After reading Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs’ B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report, I was stunned to learn that forty-four percent of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy.
My next question was, so what are the other 56 percent of marketers and communicators doing? Are they creating disparate pieces of content that potentially will yield nothing?
But why does this happen?
If you have been involved in any content marketing activities such as a blog or whitepaper, you know that everyone has an opinion on how it should get done. The conversation is usually more tactical: Where will we post? Who will write it? Too many times the conversation is focused on the wrong things. It is not about distribution. It’s really about what can you do for your intended reader. But, too few times do practitioners step back ask four questions:
1) Is this piece of content coherent with a bigger strategy or a one-off?
2) Will this piece be of value or is it noise?
3) Is this a topic of interest to our audience or do we (being the marketing team) want to push a specific message or campaign.
4) Does this tell a brand story?
If it is so simple, what is stopping marketers to ask the right questions?
1) Lack of Vision. Some marketers are caught up in the day-to-day and don’t think about the end game. Think about the above four questions. With the pieces you create, what’s the end goal? What do you want to achieve through publishing this content? Beyond the dread “distribute our thought leadership,” what action do you want if someone is to read this?
2) Time. My all time favorite excuse. Sales is waiting for this whitepaper. Insert other excuse here. You need to put in the time before jumping on the content bandwagon.
3) Not enough buy-in. Some of your internal stakeholders just want “collateral” and are not concerned about the outcomes. They just don’t get it, right? Marketers need to be strategic otherwise your department will constantly be asked to create “marketing things” that are not necessarily building a coherent or consistent brand story.
4) No internal marketing. Don E. Schultz talked about this at length at Content Marketing World last month. Marketers create copious amounts of content, but then neglect to educate their internal stakeholders as to why it is important or how it will help them better achieve their goals. According to Mr. Schultz, you need to focus on internal marketing first, then outside. Tell your story from the inside. Remember, your employees are your first line of brand advocacy.
5) Reactive versus proactive. Content Marketing is a marathon not a sprint. You need to be methodical and build the right foundation before jumping into creating tangible, engaging content.
Great deck from Joe Pulizzi on how to get started for those looking for building block,
To me, few marketers truly understand the importance of having a strategy that helps build tactics. It like a scaffold: you need an overarching goal that helps create objectives. Objectives then support strategies that then are supported by tactics.
What would you add?
Rachel DiCaro Metscher, director of advocacy and communications for Hobsons, has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. Currently, Rachel is responsible for Hobsons’ external communication programs, which include public relations, brand, website, and social media.