B2B sales and marketing is in the midst of a seismic shift. The engagement mechanism that has been used over the course of time is not as well received in the new landscape. Consider the research that shows today’s business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 70-plus percent of the purchase process is complete.

That means that today’s B2B marketer must be present in all channels, at all times, with content that educates buyers and helps guide commercial decisions.

According to a Hubspot report, only 29 percent of people want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product. In addition, the report says that 47 percent of buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. So the harsh reality is that buyers no longer get all of their information from salespeople. They need a partner to “connect” them to their markets more securely.

The concern is that content can be commoditized just like anything else. We migrate to the latest marketing fad like lemmings to the cliff, and forget to realize that the process is where the magic resides. In addition, most business owners are obsessed with the idea of immediate gratification. They want to spend money and get a guaranteed return.

But as Tommy Boy once said, “You can get a good look at a T-Bone by sticking your head up a cow’s ass, but wouldn’t you rather take the butcher’s word for it?” In other words, guarantees don’t exist. If they did, we would all head to Vegas.

True success is built from nurturing. You water a plant, you feed a baby, you educate a teen. All of these processes take time, and acts of empathy and investment.

So why would building a relationship with a market be any different?

Publishing is the way to build a relationship within your target community. Heck, according to B2B Marketing Insider, on average, marketers spend over a quarter of their marketing budgets on content marketing. Mashable says that 62 percent of companies today outsource their content marketing.

Maybe that’s why venture capitalists are expected to invest more than $1 billion in content marketing technology startups. This trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, as companies recognize a growing need to have quality content produced, but may not have the internal resources to do so.

Content marketing reportedly is on track to generate $313 billion in revenue by 2019, according to PQ Media’s “Global Content Marketing Forecast.” Todays’ consumers expect to get to know the brands they’re buying from, and the publishing process is a safe and sincere way of affording them that chance.

I’m always surprised at how many companies are reluctant to invest in content marketing because of how hard it can be to measure results. But when you can marry content marketing with direct response marketing, you’ll be nurturing the kind of sales growth you desire.

Mark Potter

Mark Potter

CEO, Conduit, Inc.

Mark Potter is the CEO of Conduit Inc, a content marketing organization, which produces a variety of publications and community building programs including CANVAS Magazine. In addition, Mark is the author of the book, Egrets, Hockey Sticks, & Roller Skates and sits on the Electronic Document Scholarship Board.