If you're a business professional, then you've probably heard of a company called SAP. But ask a man in the street and chances are they won't have a clue who SAP is.
SAP produces financial and accounting systems for large companies. Here's are a few stats to illustrate the giant web of SAP…
Micheal Brenner, former Senior Vice President of Marketing Content and Strategy at SAP, was given this task in 2010 and came up with a smart solution.
He called it STORIES.
Nothing New But Rarely Used
Yes, stories have been around since the dawn of man. The earliest homo sapiens gathered around the campfire and spun a yarn. They figured storytelling was the best way to pass on information vital for survival.
Fast-forward 80,000 years or so, and we've seen the emergence of the web, mobile accessibility, and social media and how they've changed some of the ways we tell stories. For example, we can now tell stories in 140 characters or less or with a six-second video.
Yes, it's easier to tell a story. But the world is now drowning in content too. Consumers are having a ball creating and consuming all this new content.
On the flipside, marketers and businesses are struggling to get or even gain the attention of customers.
Brenner says, "the era of one-way, single-threaded, brand-directed mass communications is officially over that's for sure. And yet most of the content and the messages coming out of businesses today are firmly stuck in the good old days."
With new marketing tactics becoming less and less effective, businesses have responded by creating more and more promotional content. Content that no one wants, no one likes, and no one responds to.
Yes, we have responded to a world with too much content by creating more content. And the typical message drilled into consumers is, "we only care about ourselves."
It's Not Me, It's You
We care about telling you "who we are" and "what we do." We talk about being the big-name logos of our customers. Hey, spend an hour with us, and we'll tell you how good we are.
We create content about us and for us because we think that is what we're supposed to do.
The problem? No one cares about you—to put it bluntly. People only care about what you can do for them. Email open rates, banner click-through rates, phone sales—all heading south!
The only way to reach your audience in today's information-drenched, content-saturated world is with content that lights a spark with your audience.
Producing content is nothing new, but it's still a young and immature discipline at many brands and small businesses. Smart brands like John Deere, Proctor & Gamble, and Red Bull using it daily to grow their businesses.
Yes, these companies are consumer brands. Can B2B brands have the same level of success?
The simple answer is YES.
Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says the best course of action for a B2B company is:
Into The Content Abyss
Michael Brenner realised the content void at SAP was a serious problem when he first started at the company in 2010. He and his team ran reports on their websites. They realised they were reaching a small minority who wanted product specific information while ignoring the majority who were not even sure there was a solution to their problem. In short, they had a CONTENT GAP.
They set about trying to highlight this gap to all SAP divisions. Still, They soon realised that content production was coming from several sources across the company.
They realised it's not just marketing but also communications and PR. Sales Support. Customer Service, Product development and technical engineers. All these divisions are now creating content for SAP customers.
SAP actually found that the biggest obstacle was their WHY? Helping their teams to understand that if they think and act as a publisher, they'll create more of the content their customers want, was paramount.
You Before Me
It is one of the biggest challenges in marketing to put the needs of your customers ahead of your own and tell stories that connect people with brands.
To help their teams, SAP identified their potential customers' top questions and search terms. They documented queries about how technology and innovation can help a business with its most significant problems, namely:
And SAP customers have many questions. SAP employees are doing their best to answer them by staying focused on their customers and their needs and telling stories that connect.
At a minimum, it is about showing staff how to be helpful. The long-term goal is not just to educate customers but also to ENTERTAIN them. Even to help them become successful in their careers.
SAP believes if they can pull this off, then clients will know they are a partner for life in their business. Not just a transaction.
SAP has admitted that not all their content is fantastic. But they're working on it, and they've accepted that survival in today's digital world requires a different approach to what is, still,the status quo for many.
An exciting and strategic content marketing plan can make all the difference for your business, your department, or your career. Follow in the footsteps of SAP and start to see your customers look at you differently.
You'll look less like someone trying to sell you something, and more like a:
Are you ready?
Ben Hucker is the founder and principal of iEvoke. He has 10 years’ experience consulting to listed and private companies in Australia. Ben teaches agencies, freelancers and entrepreneurs the skills they need to produce high-ROI brand content marketing. Learn more at www.ievoke.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org.