Content Marketing Lessons: How to Get More from Your Content Creation Efforts

Content Marketing Lessons: How to Get More from Your Content Creation Efforts

In my last post, I shared four common content marketing mistakes that I see among B2B companies. In this post, I’ll talk about steps you can take to create more compelling content while maintaining your sanity (and that of your team). Step #1: The shape of your marketing funnel—and its friction points—should serve as the cornerstones of your content marketing strategy. Effective content marketing delivers information that’s both relevant and valuable to prospective customers – and that moves them down the path to becoming paying customers. So think carefully about what’s holding them back, at each stage. B2B Marketing Funnel Image The key friction point of one of my client was driving activation of free trials. For another, it was being able to understand the product’s use cases and apply them. For a third, it was empowering its champions to make a business case for purchase. Content marketing can address all of these areas, at all stages in the funnel. For example, it allows you to start addressing issues early that could derail a sale at the 11th hour. Step #2: Size your assets to the nature and magnitude of the issues they solve. The common wisdom right now is that B2B buyers have the attention span of a fly. There’s no doubt that less can be more, but content or infographics that are full of incomplete thoughts or makes leaps of faith (that your buyer won’t necessarily make) are not likely to get you ahead. And for an extreme example, look at Marketo; I’m pretty sure that their Definitive Guides have been wildly successful even though they weigh in at about 3 pounds each. (Don’t try to print one.) When sizing an asset, I like to think about:
  • Who are the readers and how do they fit into the buying cycle?
  • How are they most likely to consume information?
  • With whom will they need to share or impart that information to get you closer to a sale?
Of course, even the biggest assets can be repurposed into infographics, blogs, and tweets. So plan for multiple uses from the start. Step #3: Tap into your customers’ generosity whenever possible. One of my clients has an awesome customer who is guest blogging on how to apply the client’s product to a specific industry. Another has developed a scalable approach to repurposing tweets. In two other cases, I interviewed customers and used their knowledge to write best practice guides. The key to success was that my clients and I did enough of the heavy lifting that the customers could swallow the time commitments. And they actually enjoyed the learning experience! Step #4: Build a strong, virtual content marketing team. In a guest post on ExactTarget’s blog, Dana Jaffe recently made the argument that companies should stop outsourcing their content marketing activities. As someone who has experienced the realities of what it takes to create good content and who has done so successfully for a number of tech companies, I have to disagree. :-) Here’s my counterproposal:
  • Take ownership of your content marketing strategy, even if you need help in creating it or executing on it. You need to be fully committed.
  • Make sure that your vendors get the attention they need to understand your positioning and value points (so you don’t make Unfortunate Mistake #3)
  • Pay attention to the work in progress
  • Be realistic about how long it takes to create good content – and the potential it has to burn out your staff, even when outsourced
And finally.. Don’t forget that content marketing is art. You should never underestimate what it takes to do content marketing well.