You know you should be producing great content regularly, but you haven’t been. Or you have, but the distribution aspect of it has fallen by the wayside. Then again, maybe you wrote a flurry of blog posts, dutifully posted them, but are now wondering how they affected your lead generation.
If this describes your situation, you’re not alone. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks report found that even committed B2B content marketers face challenges, including creating engaging content, producing content on a consistent schedule and measuring its effectiveness.
Content marketing can do a lot of things for your business, but don’t let the thought of it send you off the deep end. Here are three reasons content marketing could be keeping you up at night, and how to fix them.
You’re overthinking it
Believe it or not, you can get away with posting content that doesn’t reinvent the internet. A lot of business leaders get hung up thinking everything they post needs to be earth-shattering.
That’s an impossible goal and one that will set you up to fail. Instead, aim for other adjectives to describe your content: useful, engaging, insightful, etc. This is how you truly connect with your audience.
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You may also be trying to impress the wrong people. You’re not writing for peers and other experts. Instead, your content needs to reach your customers, address their problems and concerns and communicate with them on their level.
They’ll see the value when you can translate the complex problems your product or service solves into a clear solution. This sort of simplification and use of plain language is not “writing down” for your audience — it’s reaching out to them.
“Industry trends, general news items that are trending, and common questions from customers provide a lot of content ideas,” Technology Seed Marketing and PR Manager Katie Bisson explains to me. “We figure if our customers are asking, others are probably asking as well,” she says.
Michele Linn, vice president of content at the Content Marketing Institute, recommends mining conferences and trade shows for ideas. “Attend the conference in the eyes of your audience. What would they find useful? Then take the best insights you have learned and turn them into a summary blog post or SlideShare. Also, think about ways you can use the content you create to connect with people at the event, and follow up with them after.”
Still having trouble? Start simple: What is your customer’s biggest problem? How does your product or service solve their problems?
You don’t have a clear strategy
Content marketing is like any other initiative your business takes: It needs a plan. If you don’t have clear goals and steps to reach it, you’ll find it easy to burn up your energy on stuff that doesn’t matter. Having a content strategy will help you quickly decide what to green-light and what to reject.
Even better, strategy leads to success. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks report I referenced earlier found that 60 percent of B2B companies that had a documented strategy rated themselves highly in terms of content marketing effectiveness, compared with 32 percent of those who hadn’t taken the time to document their strategy.
A strategy establishes the “who-what-how” of your content marketing efforts. Some steps include:
Identifying your audience. Go beyond “your customers” to job titles and pain points. What do your customers worry about? What do they read to get more information?
Establishing goals. Sure, you want to sell more. But do you want to get there through better customer education, lead generation or brand awareness?
Finding creators. Who’s making all this content? Do you have an in-house team, or will you hire contractors or an agency or work with publishers directly?
Measuring and adjusting. Like any marketing effort, you need to track metrics, evaluate tactics and tweak your efforts as necessary to reach your goals.
You’re not using the right tech
There’s plenty of marketing tech out there that can automate and measure a lot of content. But I’m amazed at how often I see people spend tons of money on all this software without really understanding how it works or learning how to sync it with each other correctly.
“It’s not enough to just pick some tools and hope they solve all your problems,” says Katie Burke, vice president of culture and experience at HubSpot. Integrating platforms requires a company to invest time into to learn about them and the talent needed to use them, in addition to the tools themselves — and that can require big changes in an organization. “A lot of people think about the tools and don’t look at the other two components,” Burke says.
Ann Truong, a digital marketing adviser with Datafinity, agrees: “A lot of times, we see companies that don’t have the resources to provide ongoing support. You have to analyze it and tweak it and test it. There’s a multistep approach and you can get them going, but if you’re not analyzing it, you’re not going to get results. It takes time to see the results of these efforts.”
Spending money without getting any improvement or advantage would stress anyone out. If you’re going to make the investment, commit your organization to finding solutions that fit in with your content strategy and integrate seamlessly with your other platforms.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Mary Ellen Slayter is the CEO of Reputation Capital. Before launching a content marketing firm in her home state of Louisiana, she spent more than 10 years working as a traditional journalist, primarily at The Washington Post, where she authored the Career Track column, worked as an editor in the business news department and worked at email newsletter publisher SmartBrief. Connect with @RepCapital on Twitter.
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