All business owners — whether they’re novices or veterans, whether they sell swimming pools or accounting services — have at least one thing in common: They want to get as many customers as possible. Of course, getting those customers isn’t always easy.

That’s especially true given that customers are changing how they buy. According to Forrester Research, many B2B buyers progress through up to 90 percent of their purchasing decisions before engaging with sales. That represents a huge shift from the pre-Internet days, when information gathering was virtually impossible without contacting someone from the sales team.

Instead of turning to salespeople, today’s buyers go online to get the information they need by reading and viewing content that comes from companies and other sources. Any company that fails to produce content that buyers can find and understand risks losing them altogether.

That’s why content marketing has become so important. It’s the process of creating valuable content that’s tailored for a specific audience and then delivering that content at the right times and in the right ways to build relationships and drive sales. (For a more detailed explanation of content marketing, check out this page from the Content Marketing Institute.)

Simply put, by providing your prospects and customers with useful content at various points in the buying process to address their needs and concerns, you can help shepherd them down the path to purchase. Plus, when properly executed, content marketing can also help you to:

  • Raise awareness of your company’s brand
  • Position your company as a thought leader
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Generate, manage, and nurture leads
  • Promote engagement with your target audience

It’s important to note that content marketing is about more than just marketing content. It’s about all of your content. So in addition to you blog posts, white papers, and webinars, it’s also essential to think about how things like your product information, users’ guides, and other forms of technical content can be used to attract, engage, and retain customers. The reality is that content marketing has the potential to power your company’s customer growth, but only if you can fuel it with the many different forms of high-impact content that your audience needs.

Of course, building a successful content marketing program is no small feat and presents a number of challenges. To help you overcome those challenges, over the coming weeks we will be sharing a series of blog posts about how to build a content marketing program from scratch. Specifically, the series will look at how to:

  • Develop a content strategy that aligns the deep understanding of your target buyers and the buyer journey they are on that you need with your conversion goals, the points of contact that you want to use to reach those buyers, and the types of content that are most effective for getting their attention.
  • Create effective content that will resonate with your target audience by not only being tailored for them, useful, easy to find, but also readable, consistent, and engaging.
  • Deliver your content to your audience so that it gets in front of them in the right places and at the right times.
  • Measure your content marketing program’s overall effectiveness and use the insights you gain from that process to iterate on it and drive continual improvements.

To succeed in today’s online world, your company has to use content marketing. When done well, it can be a relatively inexpensive way of driving your business to new heights. Stay tuned for future posts in this series to find out more.