Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why You Need "Blue Ocean" Content

Content marketing is now a core marketing strategy for many B2B companies. Research shows that 9 out of 10 B2B companies are using content marketing in some form. The irony is that the popularity of content marketing makes it more challenging to create content that will enable your company to stand out from the crowd. The job has become more difficult for two reasons.

First, there's more "good" content available. As companies gain experience using educational, informative, and customer-focused content, many get better at creating it. Therefore, potential buyers are now exposed to more relevant and well-prepared content than ever before.

The second factor is that companies operating in the same market segments usually offer products or services that address the same or similar business issues and produce value in similar ways. When these companies create marketing content, it tends to deal with the same general group of business issues or topics. Therefore, the content offered by competitors will often look (or sound) a lot alike.

To capture prospects' attention and set your company apart from competitors, you need to create and use marketing content that provides fresh and valuable insights. This is not easy to do, but one solution is to always be looking for opportunities to create what I call blue ocean content.

The defining characteristic of blue ocean content is that it deals with important, but under appreciated, issues, problems, or ways that your product or service will create value. The matrix shown below illustrates what I mean.

The vertical axis of the matrix represents the importance of a business issue or problem or the significance of a way that your product or service creates value. The horizontal axis represents how knowledgeable potential buyers are about the issue, problem, or value opportunity.

Red ocean content (the upper right quadrant) is content that addresses important or significant issues, problems, or value that potential buyers already know about. (Note:  I've borrowed the red ocean-blue ocean metaphor from Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.)

Red ocean content, when it's done well, has significant value, but it isn't particularly effective at helping to differentiate your company.  That's because (a) potential buyers are already aware of the problem, issue, or value the content addresses, so you aren't really providing new information, and (b) your competitors are probably offering similar content.

Blue ocean content (the upper left quadrant) describes and explains important or significant problems, issues, or value that potential buyers do not already know about or fully appreciate. Blue ocean content is also more likely to address topics that your competitors aren't dealing with. Therefore, blue ocean content offers prospects new and valuable insights.

Content can achieve blue ocean status in several ways:
  • It can identify and describe the causes and effects of a previously unrecognized problem.
  • It can make the full ramifications of a known issue or problem visible.
  • It can describe a new solution for an issue or problem.
  • It can provide new perspectives on industry issues or problems.
Red ocean content is and will remain valuable in your marketing efforts. Most of your content will be red ocean content because it will always be essential to provide information about basic, known problems, issues, and value. But you need some blue ocean content to effectively capture your prospects' attention and set your company apart from competitors.

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