The B2B buying process is long and requires a lot of information. Content marketing is a tool to offer needed information about a product as well as information around the product and the area of business. This can be helpful to position the company as an expert in this market which creates trust and brand awareness. The goal is not to communicate directly about a product, but to indirectly sell it through creating a relationship with the customer, initiate dialogs and setting sales-oriented stimuli.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Creating Brand Awareness through Content Marketing
The Picture shows two ways of content marketing. The red cycle describes how content can be used to create a relationship with the customer. The company is providing content related to its field of business. Through that, a company can position itself as an expert or adviser in this field of business and is able to communicate its own competences. Hence, it is perceived as more trustworthy. If the content hits the customers need, the customer will come back to consume or share the content which increases the companies brand awareness.
Furthermore, content marketing can be used as a customer service tool by providing information on how the customer can get the most out of a product. This emphasizes the value of content for creating a relationship with the customer.
Generating Customers with Content Marketing
The blue cycle describes how content is used to actually sell the product. It displays how not the product, but the content is advertised. This content is mostly offered for free if the interested person is willing to offer contact information (like their personal name, e-mail, and company name).
A person who submitted their contact information is called a lead. The information provided by the lead is then used to follow-up via newsletters or telephone calls to qualify the potential of the interested person. If the interested person is qualified as a prospective customer, the companies’ sales representatives will contact them and try to convert them into a customer. 
The list of digital marketing channels is “enormous and only growing as technological innovations create new ways [of spreading content].” Kreutzer states that content can be divided into the four classes, inspire, entertain, educate and persuade. B2B content can be classified as “education” content. The most used digital B2B content-marketing channels classified as “education” are blogs (81%), articles on a corporate website (79%), white papers (71%), infographics (67%) and webinars (66%).
Does Content Marketing work?
The number of money spend on content marketing is increasing. However, according to a survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute in cooperation with MarketingProfs, 53 % of content marketers described their efforts as moderately successful. 47 % of the studies participants stated they would not measure the ROI of their content marketing efforts at all. As a reason for not measuring, 27 % stated they would not know how to do it. Similar problems on how to calculate the ROI and the effectiveness of content marketing have already been found in 2015.
In my article about “How to Measure the Performance of Free Web Content” (not published yet), I will tackle this issue.
 Cf. Hilker (2017), p. 6.
 Cf. Rose (URL).
 Cf. Kreutzer (2017), p. 44ff. and Rose/Pulizzi, p. 21f.
 Cf. Kreutzer (2017), p. 74 and Hippner (2011), p. 43.
 Cf. Lieb (2012), p. 61.
 Cf. Kreutzer (2017), p. 47, inspired by the talk “Content marketing & native advertising – Not the same, however inseparable!” from D. Horzetzky at the HWR Berlin from 2015.
 White paper are a form of content offered for download and provide extra product or professional information (Cf. Alpar (2015), p. 342).
 Cf. Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs (2015), p. 15.
 Cf. Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs (2017), p. 12, 32 f.
 Cf. Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs (2015), p. 27.
Content Marketing Institute; MarketingProfs (2015): “B2B Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America”.
Content Marketing Institute; MarketingProfs (2017): “B2B Content Marketing: 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America”.
Hilker, Claudia (Hrsg.) (2017): “Content Marketing in der Praxis: Ein Leitfaden – Strategie, Konzepte und Praxisbeispiele für B2B- und B2C-Unternehmen“ Springer Gabler: Wiesbaden.
Hippner, Hajo; Hubrich, Beate; Wilde, Klaus D. (Hrsg.) (2011): “Grundlagen des CRM. Strategie, Geschäftsprozesse und IT-unterstützung“. 3. Auflage, Gabler: Wiesbaden.
Kreutzer, Ralf (2017): “Erfolgsfaktoren im Content Marketing“. In: Hilker, Claudia (Hrsg.) (2017): “Content Marketing in der Praxis: Ein Leitfaden – Strategie, Konzepte und Praxisbeispiele für B2B- und B2C-Unternehmen“ Springer Gabler: Wiesbaden, p. 44-54.
Lieb, Rebecca (2012): “Content marketing: Think like a publisher – how to use content to market online and in social media”. Que: Indianapolis.
Rose, Robert (2013): “How content strategy and content marketing are separate but connected“. Content Marketing Institut. URL: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2013/10/content-strategy-content-marketing-separate-connected/, last accessed May 02, 2018.
Rose, Robert; Pulizzi, Joe (2011): “Managing content marketing: The real-world guide for creating passionate subscribers to your brand”. CMI Books: Cleveland.