Last month, the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs released their report “B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America.” Not surprisingly, almost everything about content marketing has increased in the past year — budgets, channels and volume.
This “more” mentality also hits B2B marketers where it may hurt them most. Research points out that the biggest challenge comes from the ability to generate enough content. “Enough,” despite the fact that we’re constantly bombarded with generic, missed-the-mark content already.
More ≠ Better
Last year, 40% of B2B marketers said their content marketing was “effective” or “very effective.” This year that number dropped to 36%. Is there a relationship between volume of content and effectiveness?
Yes. With an unquenchable thirst for more content — and in more forms, mind you — marketers may be shooting themselves in the foot. I challenge marketers caught up in the more more more mentality to ask themselves two critical questions:
- How well do I know my audience?
- How well do I know my story?
When I look at the content that comes from almost every B2B company, it’s clear that a greater attention to quality would be money well spent. Often, I’m not sure that these companies took the time to understand who they’re talking to, and the pains and pressure their audience faces on a daily basis. Or, if they have personas, they haven’t taken the time to personalize content to each of them. So they pump out volumes of content, hoping something will stick.
Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy Officer of Corporate Visions, says it beautifully — if your content sucks, automating it will just make it suck faster.
Bad content can come from not knowing your audience, but also from not knowing yourself.
Do you suffer from me-to-itis? Do you lurk in dark corners and eavesdrop on your competition, then try to say the same thing, just a little different? It’s a failing proposition. Stellar storytelling comes from knowing yourself, knowing why you’re in the market, and knowing the difference you’re looking to make in the lives of your customers. It’s what Simon Sinek calls your “why.”
Customers don’t want to slog through content. They want information that’s relevant, but they don’t want to drink from the fire hose.
Skip the Spray and Pray
Pumping up the content volume without it being great content hurts your brand. The worst violators usually suffer from not knowing what to say and to whom, so they “spray and pray” — they spray content far and wide, and then pray that something sticks. Once they figure out what stuck where, then they try to replicate it over and over.
The result is boring iterations of the same content that lacks any kind of story structure. These marketers are trying to tell the same old story, just incrementally better. When their customers hear it, they disengage because it’s the same old, same old. What these marketers really need to do is tell a different story all together.
When you have the courage to do that, you don’t need a dump truck of content. You need less content, because that’s what makes a significantly bigger impact.
So, as you look ahead to 2013, I offer one resolution for your content strategy — do less.
Make a difference by saying less, and saying it less often. By doing this, you’ll free up time to better understand who it is you really should be talking to and what it is you want to say. And then you’ll see that when you talk less, people will listen more.
Editor's Note: Check out another one of Carla's great articles: He Said, She Said: Content's Role in the Sales and Marketing Marriage
About the Author
Carla Johnson, principal, Type A Communications, writes, trains, speaks and works with companies to help them discover their story, then use it as a foundation for their branding, messaging and content marketing initiatives.