Content marketing is swiftly becoming the de facto standard in B2B marketing. Following trends in the B2C landscape, B2B companies are embracing this strategy with gusto — but often saddled with a poor understanding of what makes it effective and how to measure its success.
It’s no surprise, then, that many B2B professionals cite a lack of time for the reason why their content marketing strategy is less-than-stellar.
In a LinkedIn B2B content marketing report based on more than 600 survey responses from marketing professionals, “lack of time as a challenge to content marketing” came in at number three of the top five content marketing trends. This finding is supported by the Content Marketing Institute’s report on 2016’s B2B content marketing trends in North America, which found that 57 percent of content marketers identified producing content consistently as one of their biggest challenges.
We already know that marketing is a time-consuming effort. Entire departments are devoted to planning, implementing and actualizing hefty campaigns. It should be no different with content marketing. If you find a lack of time is one of the biggest reasons your content marketing strategy is suffering, we have a few tips to make things easier. But first, let’s consider why you think you don’t have time.
Understanding Content Marketing
We’d like to propose a radical suggestion … time may not be what’s preventing your content marketing strategy from being effective. It might actually be low perceived value resulting from lack of understanding.
Take a moment to consider all the tasks you have to do in a day — answering email, taking meetings, approving payroll runs, reviewing quarterly reports. Those little things that soak up so much of our valuable time become urgent when we’re avoiding tucking into bigger projects that can’t be shuffled off our desks in a matter of minutes.
Realistically, that’s what producing content is. You can’t simply pump out a blog post, newsletter or podcast in five minutes while running through preliminary budget figures for next week’s meeting. Unfortunately, many marketing professionals don’t understand the “hows” and the “whys” of content marketing. As a result, there is little perceived value in the exercise. And when something doesn’t seem worth doing, it becomes less important.
Author and content marketing expert Joe Pulizzi suggests that the reason content marketing fails has to do with idea that cultural change is hard. Marketing departments approach content marketing the same way they do advertising campaigns. As a result, consistency suffers.
Pulizzi says, “Most content packages are based on product launch schedules, rushed execution timetables, and lack of project management.”
Expanding on this assertion, Forbes contributor Sujan Patel writes, “Lots of business get into content marketing because it is the ‘in’ thing to do online. You can ask those businesses what their goals are, and you will get answers like exposure, social shares, links, leads, and sales. But when you ask those same businesses how they measure their content marketing to find out if they are achieving those goals … some may not even have a basic analytics tool in place.”
Without a proper, consistent strategy and analytics framework, it’s easy to see why content marketing may look like one of those thankless, time-consuming tasks. By having a better understanding of the concept, and by implementing more effective procedures and means of measuring ROI, you may find that your motivation increases as your successes do.
— KDMedia (@KDMediaLLC) August 24, 2015
But sometimes, time really is the problem. You may be running your B2B content marketing campaign like a boss, and still find you’re time-strapped to create strong campaigns. If you can relate, then here are a few strategies to help make producing content easier.
Make research ongoing
Researching topics, arguments and data points for planned content doesn’t have to be reserved for marathon writing sessions only. It can be done in bits and pieces throughout the day.
Analytics expert and cofounder of Quicksprout Neil Patel suggests, “The quality of your content will increase substantially if you do it on an ongoing basis, as ideas pop into your head. As soon as you get an idea, begin jotting down ways you could develop it. By stepping into research mode every time you browse the Web, you can often have your entire outline finished before it’s time to sit down and write.”
Mine your email
In a post on Marketing Land, Stoney deGeyter, president of Pole Position Marketing, suggests that your daily email communication can be a valuable resource for finding content ideas. He explains, “Have you ever written an email answering a question that turned out to be a pretty strong tutorial or how-to? … If you can take that email and strip any personal or identifying information, you’ve got yourself the makings of a great blog post.”
deGeyter admits that you may have to expand on ideas here and there, and perhaps add an introduction or conclusion. But you’ve already written the bulk of a post. Why not adapt it for wider client consumption?
Perhaps pinpointing topics to write about isn’t your problem. Maybe it’s the writing part that holds you back from hammering out that first draft. If the idea of sitting down at your computer and slugging your way through the primary draft of anything is unappealing, try talking through it instead.
Google, Apple, Evernote, WordPress and a host of other software provide voice-to-text applications that transcribe your spoken thoughts into written text. The beauty of this option is that many of these applications can be used through your smart phone, so you don’t have to be in front of your computer. You can get that first draft down while walking to your office from the subway, or in your car en route to your next client meeting (hands-free, of course). By using this approach, you may find talking through your first draft less daunting than physically writing it.
Insource content creation
Your sales department is potentially a valuable source for content. Social media marketing expert Kathi Kruse points out that, “[N]ow that customers are Googling salespeople, it’s crucial that each salesperson participate in content creation.”
Encourage your sales professionals to build up their online profile by contributing content to your business. Educate them on what quality content is, and train them how to recognize opportunities for inspiration. It’s a win-win on all sides — your business benefits from the content; your sales team benefits from the exposure and recognition. You could even host brainstorming sessions over a working lunch to make the process fun and engaging.
Repurpose Your Content
Content comes in many forms, not just as a written article or post. Diversify your content for multi-channel distribution through a process called “cascading.”
Fernando Labastida, founder and CEO of Content Propulsion, explains, “The cascade starts with a webinar, which … you record and upload to YouTube or Vimeo. Then post the slides to SlideShare, get the audio transcribed, and turn it into an eBook or white paper, several blog posts, and dozens of social media shares. Finally, create an infographic with images from your slide deck and share it on your social media channels and your blog.”
You don’t need to create a new piece of content for each channel. Save time and reach different audiences by repurposing what you already have.
It’s a statistically recognized fact that customer opinion of a B2B firm’s reputation matters more than ever — more, even, than B2C brands in some cases.
In today’s aggressive market dominated by social media, you can’t afford not to be engaging in content marketing. If you find that lack of time is holding you back from implementing a truly successful content marketing strategy, we hope these tips and insights will motivate you to get back in the game, and will help you stay there.
Got any tips for B2B content marketers? Let us know below or via @b2bnewsnetwork!
Flickr photo via Creative Commons