Content marketing is one of the hottest B2B marketing trends. According to The 2012 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends Report, 60% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing spending this year. The report also revealed that 9 out of 10 B2B marketers are using content to grow their businesses.

What is content marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute defines it as “the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.”

This usually leads to the question, “How can I increase my bottom line if I can’t use my marketing to sell my products or services?”

The definition goes on to explain, “The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”

Great, but how do you sell your stuff? 

While content marketing is gaining traction for all of the reasons above, you still need to encourage leads to take the next step in working with you. That’s why you can apply a 90/10 rule to your content marketing. 90% of your content should be educational, while 10% can focus on the call to action.

Here are some examples:

While it’s not appropriate to write a blog post about how great you are and why people should buy from you, you should encourage readers to subscribe to your blog. For example, place ads on the sidebar to get readers to visit other pages on your website. Use 90% of your blog page to provide valuable content and 10% for banner ads, opt-in boxes or subscription buttons.

And while no one wants to read a white paper that’s a 10-page sales pitch, best practices state that you should discuss your solutions at the end of the white paper. If the first 90% of your white paper was entertaining and informative, readers will want to learn about how you can help.

What about you? Do you feel that content marketing should be used to drive sales, or is it all about educating your audience or something else? Feel free to share your thoughts below.