Obviously, B2B content marketing is driven by content. But what drives the content?
The correct answer: your brand strategy and business goals.
This seems simple enough. But we’re always surprised at how many times companies veer from this basic, vital requirement. Herewith, some of the common pitfalls we see time and again.
1. Brand strategy is ignored by the company’s own publishers.
This one is a puzzler for us. If a company owns its brand strategy, and it owns the media on which it publishes content (blogs, emails, newsletters, etc.), how can that content not be tightly tied to the strategy? We’ve seen instances where brand strategy and content marketing–in both owned and earned media–aim at entirely different audiences.
The problem may be a fiefdom issue: where the people in charge of one are not the same people in charge of the other. Or perhaps the people generating the content are given too free a hand in what they do. Or maybe management cares greatly about the brand strategy, but isn’t involved (or even interested) in the nuts and bolts of content. Or it could be that the brand strategy was not properly developed in the first place.
Whatever the reason, it’s counterproductive. Anything from your company should reflect your brand strategy. The consistency in itself implies your company’s high level of professionalism. And the continuing reinforcement of what you stand for makes what you stand for that much clearer to customers and prospects.
2. Not enough money is devoted to the development of original content.
According to the Content Marketing Institute survey, “B2B Content Marketing Trends: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends”, 91% of B2B companies say they practice content marketing.
What do they say are the biggest problems?
- Producing Enough Content
- Producing Content That Engages
- Producing a Variety of Content
- Lack of Budget
If you’ve been around the marketing block a few times like we have, you know that all of these are actually the same problem. Adequate funding allows you to hire the manpower you need to produce enough engaging content in a variety of forms, whether in-house or outsourced. The survey found that the Most Effective B2B Content Marketers spend 46% of their marketing budget on content, while the Least Effective spend 16%. The Most Effective use more tactics, distribute content on more social networks and are far less challenged in terms of producing engaging content.
3. The metrics are misguided.
Sure, it’s important to meet deadlines and stick to the budget. But that’s only part of the story. What about your brand? How well is your content conveying the bigger picture of your company and why the audience should consider doing business with it? And how is that being compromised if a hard-and-fast piece of the budget pie and deadlines are all that matter?
Remember the old marketing rule of thumb: every communication with your prospect is a representation of your brand. If the brand isn’t well represented, it just makes it easier for prospects to forget who provided that great content they saw the other day.
4. Quantity is more important than quality.
Wait a minute, you might be saying. If B2B companies aren’t properly funding content development, how can they focus on volume and frequency? That’s a good question, but many do. That means they start out with two strikes against them: their goal is to generate a lot of “stuff,” instead of producing quality content that their audiences will find valuable, and they aren’t spending the money to do either.
Whatever you spend, spend well. Put the focus on quality first. And remember, a great piece can live in several different versions–as an article, as a blog post, as an ebook, as a video interview and more.
5. No content exists in a vacuum.
Your audience is not glued to your blog, your YouTube channel and your LinkedIn page, and nothing else. It’s a big online world. You’re competing for their attention and interest, probably against content sources who have deeper pockets than you. Looking and sounding dull or unimaginative isn’t going to help you win the competition.
This is where a well-developed brand strategy can help you stand out from the crowd. Part and parcel of that should be a company personality, a tone of voice and a graphic approach that allow for flexibility without losing your distinct identity.
Remember, too, that content quality also comes into play here. If you’re saying what a lot of others are saying and not offering any new insights, even the most unique presentation will only go a short way. But if your content is true to your brand, your distinct point of view will help you steer clear of “me too-ism.”
Help is on the way.
Why should you care about all of this? Because when your brand strategy is properly developed and integrated with your content marketing, there’s nothing but upside. You attract more prospects, speed up their conversion into customers, and get more out of your marketing dollars. Your reputation and customer relationships are enhanced.
If your company sells complex products or services – like the clients we have at Athorn, Clark & Partners – these are precisely the results you need from your program. It doesn’t happen overnight, and there is real work involved. But we can help you get there, and get there as efficiently as possible.
Interested? Contact us via email or call ACP co-founder George Clark at 212.457.6142.
It’s easier to avoid pitfalls when you work with someone who knows where they are.