(NOTE: this is an extended version of an article that I wrote for CMO.com.)
Search engine marketing offers a fantastic opportunity to reach prospective new customers of your company’s products or services. Not only can you accurately target potential buyers based on their Google, Bing, and Yahoo search patterns, you can also gain insightful metrics to inform your SEM methodology, improve its ROI, and generate better results.
Unfortunately, many marketing execs rely too heavily on SEM, and some even make it the lone centerpiece of their department’s’ overall strategy. By taking this path, they’re doing their organizations a huge disservice by not including a multimedia content creation plan in their marketing mixes.
I’ve found that content pieces that address the needs, goals, and challenges of prospective B2B or B2C customers - such as optimized press releases about company innovations; news stories in reputable media outlets; gated podcasts and white papers; and articles about timely topics that are written by company executives and placed in key industry news sites - are more enduring than SEM, less expensive to produce, and actually ramp up the value of SEM campaigns.
When queried as to why they’re prioritizing SEM at the exclusion of other tools, marketing execs with whom I’ve spoken have told me it’s because that’s what their competitors are doing, and they don’t want to be left behind. This follow-the-pack mentality has five dangerous drawbacks that can negatively affect your company’s sales and marketing efforts:
- SEM can be expensive - One marketing director for a company with service locations around the U.S. told me that he spends at least $150,000 per month on SEM. This outlay represents his primary ongoing marketing expenditure, and his competitors spend similar amounts on their own SEM programs. His recurring SEM cost eats up the bulk of his company’s marketing budget.
- SEM doesn’t guarantee sales - While the above mentioned marketing director’s SEM-generated lead flow has been acceptable, his company’s sales have been soft, and he can’t understand why.
- SEM doesn't differentiate your organization from your competition - If all of your competitors are spending solely and heavily on SEM, there’s no way for any one company to stand out from the group, and there’s no way for prospective customers to determine which company’s offerings best address their goals, needs, and challenges.
- SEM doesn't create virality, shareability, or bookmarking - Your prospective customers don’t "like", tweet, save, share, or print the search engine ads that they see. Once your ads disappear from the screen, their utility is gone.
- SEM doesn't help sales teams to finalize business deals with prospective customers - While SEM may help to drive leads and prospects to your door, it doesn’t give you the tools to help close sales.
The above limitations of SEM can be successfully reversed, and the potency of your SEM can be dramatically empowered, if a multimedia content creation program is added to your marketing strategy. Here’s why:
- Multimedia content creation (MCC) is affordable - Whether it’s done internally or by hiring an outside consultant, the design and implementation of MCC can have a price tag that’s a fraction of your monthly SEM spend.
- MCC helps to build sales opportunities - By creating a vast online inventory of clear, concise, and convincing content that explains how your company’s products or services deliver the exact results that customers are looking for, MCC makes it possible for leads and prospects to begin buyers’ journeys that are inspired by their SEM discoveries about your company.
- MCC differentiates your organization from your competition - Having a wide array of easily findable customer-focused press releases about your company’s developments; news stories about your company in influential media outlets; and case studies/success stories about the efficacy of your company’s offerings will quickly set you apart from the pack.
- MCC creates virality, shareability, and bookmarking - By distributing your content on your company’s website, across social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), and via third party sites, it will be "liked", tweeted, saved, shared, and printed by the prospective customers who you’re targeting. This ubiquity will add credibility to, and distinguish, the messaging of your SEM campaign.
- MCC helps sales teams to finalize business deals with prospective customers - In my experience, MCC has been the secret weapon to help sales pros close new business: it provides compelling evidence that your company’s unique value proposition and brand promises are consistently delivered. SEM may encourage your prospective customers to raise their hands, but MCC will be the “deal maker” that gets them to open their wallets.
While SEM can be a powerful component of your marketing strategy, the decision to view it as the only component that’s worth pursuing will degrade your company’s profitability. To convert search engine-driven leads into sales and also achieve an unassailable edge over your competitors, enhance your company’s SEM with an accompanying MCC approach.