Having a content strategy to guide our B2B marketing efforts is generally considered to be a good thing. But putting this into practice is not always straight-forward.
According to the 2015 CMI (Content Marketing Institute) Benchmark report, 86 per cent of B2B organisations use content marketing – but only around a third (35 per cent) of these have a documented (written) strategy. The report also found that:
- 48 per cent of these have an undocumented (verbal) strategy
- 60 per cent of those B2B organisations that have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness
- 32 per cent of those who have an undocumented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness
Perhaps your company is already among those with a documented strategy; maybe everyone in your organisation is on the same page but your strategy isn’t written down; or your business is new to content marketing.
In any case, it’s worth considering what devising an effective B2B content strategy entails. The key is to meet the needs of your organisation and, more importantly, provide the right content in the right way to your audience.
What are your goals?
This is the first question we should ask ourselves when we set out to create content: what exactly are we trying to achieve?
Perhaps you are looking to build brand awareness, increase sales or carve out a reputation as a thought leader – or maybe all of these things. Either way, it’s worth defining your marketing aims in crystal clear terms.
Who is your audience?
Irrespective of what our goals are, in order for our content to be effective in helping to achieve them we need to ensure it is tailored to the right people – those whose problems our product or service can resolve. There may be one person or more across a company, or even an industry, that we need to identify and engage with.
Writing on Forbes, Jayson DeMers says: “Creating a content strategy without a clear understanding of your audience is a bit like setting a boat adrift without navigational tools. You’re out there and you’re taking action, but you’re not working toward a specific goal.”
One of the most useful ways to figure how who these people actually are is to create buyer personas – semi-fictional representations of the people whose attention you are trying to attract. Think about the kind of business they work in, what challenges they face, what they would like to achieve and how you can help them. Then, you can tailor your content to meet their needs.
What resources do you have and what’s your budget?
Implementing an effective strategy requires the skills of writers, editors and designers – and it necessitates time and effort.
Consider whether you have the appropriate people in-house – and whether they will be capable of delivering your strategy. It’s worth thinking outside the box on this point. For example, a sales person is likely to know your product inside-out, as well as be attuned to the kinds of questions that potential customers are asking.
If finding people within your company isn’t a realistic prospect then think about who you could outsource to - and how much this would cost. Talk to a few different agencies to find out what they could offer you and what their ideas might be.
However, whether you decide to outsource or not, it’s a good idea to appoint one key person within your company to oversee all of the work being done and keep your strategy on track.
Planning your content
It seems obvious but it’s worth reinforcing: content is at the heart of any content strategy. Once we’ve defined our goal and audience, and appointed our content team, the real work begins.
Every piece of content that we create needs to be valuable. Here are three things to do to set you on the right path:
- Do a content inventory: What content do you have that can be repurposed? From website copy, to presentations and speech notes, it can be surprising to see what you already have available.
- Create a content calendar: Once you have amassed all the materials you need, organise these into topics and start planning how you will address each of them. You don’t have to stick rigidly to this schedule, but it can be can a really useful asset to your strategy.
- Think about analysis: We want to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of our content, so that we can adapt our strategy accordingly. Surveys, feedback forms and click-through analysis tools can all help you to see which content is being consumed, who is consuming it, and whether it is generating leads.
Writing on Copyblogger, Demian Farnworth says: “Your content strategy helps you see clearly, avoid excuses, and remove distractions. It’s there to keep you accountable.”
Building our strategy means asking ourselves what our marketing goals are, identifying who we need to engage with and drawing up a schedule for creating informative and educational content that enables us to do just that. By documenting the journey we’re on and the destination we’re attempting to reach, we are far more likely to get there.