Eighty percent of B2B marketing organizations said they are using content marketing to grow their businesses, in a December 2011 study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. Their most-used tactics include article posting, social media (largely Twitter and LinkedIn), blogs and e-newsletters.
Interestingly, marketers expressed a lack of confidence effectiveness of these tactics, stating that content they produced less often — videos, white papers, and webinars, for example — was in fact more effective.
Why the disparity? The answer can be found in this not-so-surprising reveal: 41% of marketers say their No. 1 challenge is producing the kind of content that engages customers.
Sizzle before substance — once again
Two years ago, at SocialTech in San Jose, the SAP social media director shared his success at evangelizing social media. At one point, he strayed from his talk briefly to quip: “If anyone has solved the content thing, let me know.”
Why is the “content thing” still such a problem when content marketing has become an established part of the strategy? Simple: generating good content is very hard. It’s expensive, time-consuming and never-ending work. Companies may be reluctant to invest in resources when it’s not a proven thing.
Shiny new tools and tactics take center stage, and substantial content that customers actually want gets left in the dust. We have new marketing automation software! Let’s launch a campaign! Wait — what content are we offering? Who’s going to write it? Do we have budget? Can’t we just send a PDF of the brochure? These conversations are happening in marketing departments all over the world. They’re the wrong conversations.
Tackling the content problem
When a company such as Coca-Cola asserts that content is the future of its marketing strategy, you know it’s time to sit up and take notice. As content marketing becomes an integral part of the mix, marketers need to start thinking about content first:
- What are your customers’ challenges?
- What decisions do they need to make?
- What hurdles do they face in making those decisions?
- What unique knowledge, assets, information and perspectives can you offer to help them?
Then you can plan for how to create content that supports these needs and goals — and finally, the tactics for delivering that content to your customers.
Bottom line: Turn the “content problem” on its head and develop a plan for how to budget for, create, repurpose, and disseminate quality content, consistently and strategically. Only then can you drive better results from your content marketing.