B2B Content Marketing: It Works.

Content marketing is effective—particularly the digital kind.

In the first study of B2B content marketing effectiveness, Dr. Bobby Calder and his team at Kellogg School of Management validate the approach and have some surprising results for firms spending money on events, webinars, and other “in-person” content marketing.

Content marketing, says Calder, is any communication that creates value beyond the product or service. That’s a satisfyingly useful definition of a very broad concept that includes John Deere’s The Furrow, REI’s Expert Advice, in-flight magazines, even the Old Spice Guy. If your audience values it for itself, it’s content marketing.

Great content marketing creates an experience that resonates with the audience’s values and aims in life, in a professional context—possibly “more important to them than a business transaction.”

“With content marketing, you’re not so much trying to communicate value as to create value beyond the product.”

Bobby Calder, Professor Emeritus of Marketing, Kellogg School of Management

There is plenty of evidence that B2C content marketing works. But no one had validated the effectiveness of B2B content marketing—the kind that IBM and GE have undertaken. And no one had studied the effectiveness of different content marketing activities.

Calder’s team did both. In fact, they found that digital content marketing result in more leads and completed sales than in-person content marketing.

The in-person events barely registered at all—surprising even Calder. Although no single study is ever definitive, marketers may want to rethink their content marketing mix.