Post by Brian Hansford, Director of Client Services, Heinz Marketing, Inc.

Content marketing is one of the top pain points I see with any B2B marketing organization. Strategy. Execution. Production. Measurements.  It’s difficult to do in a ‘ridiculously good’ way. (See our special Ann Handley event details at the end of this blog!)

Unfortunately there are way too many blogs full of platitudes stating how content is like a form of royalty. Pursuing these platitudes causes marketers to focus on activity and quantity and not on customer engagement.  Marketers are still producing massive quantities of digital “brochure-ware” that goes unnoticed and unused.  Don’t fall into the trap and become a 2015 version of a 1995 marketing communications manager!

In their 2014 survey, Forrester Research and the Online Marketing Institute highlight the challenges in B2B content marketing:

  • Only 4% of marketers are “masters” in content marketing
  • 87% of marketers surveyed find major challenges in producing the right content  

DemandGen just released the 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey which shows how critical content is for effective B2B marketing:

  • 58% of B2B buyers spent more time researching purchases in 2014, compared to 48% in 2012.
  • 64% of surveyed B2B buyers said the winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their buying decision.
  • 82% of surveyed B2B senior executives said that content was a significant driver of their buying decisions.

Finally, SiriusDecisions estimates that 60-70% of content goes unused.

Clearly B2B buyer’s want good content.  Lots of B2B marketers are “doing” content marketing and many are seeing results in helping to grow their business and engage customers.  It seems many B2B marketers still struggle with doing content marketing well.

B2B marketers need to focus on developing the right content for their audience, and sharing that content in ways that are most meaningful for customers.  Here are 4 elements of a good content marketing strategy.

Strategy – Yes, build a strategy. Don’t just randomly produce white papers and create infographics.   Identify the target audience and what’s important to them. Answer questions like: How will content be used and where will it be published? Who will develop the content?  What are your competitors doing? What is the best way to reach your customers? How do you measure success?

Audit and Assess – What is your content library made of currently? Do you have a solid inventory of all assets? Where do the assets fit in the buyer’s journey? What formats are they available in? Who are the assets intended for? Is the content current and relevant? Perform a thorough content audit and review exactly what you have, or don’t have. Kapost has a fantastic tool to help audit content through all kinds of channels including websites, YouTube, and SlideShare.

Channels and Formats – Where does your audience engage and what are they about? A business blog with regularly published content (thanks to the strategy and editorial calendar) is a fantastic anchor for that and can feed into many other channels.  Content produced on a blog can often be repurposed in other formats and channels like e-books, webinars and more.  Focus on the audience and diversify!

Measure what Matters (But remember not everything can be measured) – Content fuels a demand generation strategy that is powered with technology like marketing automation.  Without content, nothing happens.  Content impacts how people discover and engage with your organization.  Many of the steps and phases in content-fueled demand generation can be measured.  The analytical picture often crystalizes over longer periods of time.  (Don’t judge content success after one day!) Types of content, the target audience, and the focus all have some measurable impact on customer engagement and revenue generation.

We have produced a simple content marketing diagram to show how customers engage along with potential channels and formats to support their journey.  Hopefully you will find this a useful model!
Content Grid_09112014-01 (2)
Heinz Marketing is proud to host Ann Handley on October 2nd, 2014 in Seattle!  Ann is the Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs. She will present “Ridiculously Good Content” and all attendees will receive a copy of her new book Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Producing Ridiculously Good Content.
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