Chances are pretty darn good you’re already a content marketer. But do you find yourself sometimes hitting a wall?
Research shows that 91 percent of B2B marketers now use content marketing. Why is that? Because creating and sharing quality content can be a game changer for your company. Done correctly, it builds brand awareness, drives traffic, generates leads and is the lifeblood of your B2B social marketing efforts.
But here’s the catch… content marketing is hard to do!
Not only do you have to breakthrough the growing deluge of content clutter (since everyone is now a content marketer), but also do so in a way that engages your prospects, tells your story and builds your company’s brand.
Why your Content Marketing Efforts aren’t Paying Off
Before we get into how to do that, let’s first look at six reasons why you’re (probably) struggling with content marketing.
1. Need more content. Let’s start with the obvious. You and your team are most likely NOT creating enough content. You need at least two to three blog posts per week, a monthly whitepaper or guide, plus a quarterly webinar. Not to mention daily social media activity, monthly email newsletters and videos too!
Not doing that much? Well, don’t expect content marketing to shower you with results any time soon (even if you’re creating amazing content).
2. Prospects aren’t seeing your content. Sure, having more content on your website or blog means you’ll capture more natural search traffic. And that’s a good thing.
But to really catapult your business, you need to leverage social media to get your content in front of your target audience (and their social networks). That’s why building social media properties chock-full of prospects, customers and influencers is a MUST for making content marketing truly ignite your business.
3. Your content is all about you. No one cares about your product, service or company (sorry!). Instead, they care about doing a better job, outwitting the competition (and colleagues) and looking awesome to the boss.
That means your content needs to reflect what’s important to your buyers -- not what’s important to you. Find out what interests and engages your prospects and influencers by listening to them on social media and asking them with surveys (or in person).
4. No compelling perspective. Yes, we just said your content needs to be all about your buyer… but you still need to have your own point of view. Said another way, what’s your company’s story, purpose, mission or reason-to-be… and why should anyone care?
Don’t know? Well then, don't be surprised when your prospects ignore your bland, non-engaging, “me-too” content. Bottom line: to make your content standout, you need to stand out. Understand what makes your perspective compelling and unique, or forget about winning the content marketing game.
5. Not thinking like a content publisher. As with all things important, content marketing starts with a plan, an editorial plan that is. It’s great to wake up, be inspired and bang out a blog post from time to time. But that’s a writer’s perspective. You also need to think like an editor and publisher. How much content do you need this week, month and quarter? What topics should the content be on? And who’s going to create it? Welcome to content publishing!
6. Forgetting the B2B buyer process. Your prospects are at different stages in understanding the “pain” they have and who can help them. So you should create content for each stage of the buying process: awareness, consideration, evaluation and purchase.
Missing a stage is like putting a big, fat, hole in the bridge that takes them from being a potential prospect to a qualified lead. Also make sure that each piece of content has a “call-to-action” to make it easy to transport the reader (your prospect) from one buying stage to the next.
How to Start Fixing these Content Marketing Problems
Don’t worry if it turns out that you have one or more of these content marketing problems. Most marketers do. But here’s how to start (finally) getting on the path to making content marketing rock your business!
Keep your target audience in mind
First things first. Quality content should be created with a target audience in mind. And the more specific that audience, the better. So, develop one or more buyer personas (think: decision makers, users, influencers) so that everyone on the marketing team knows whom they’re writing for… and the more details the better! Understand and document the challenges, needs, wants and aspirations of your target audience. (Need more info on buyer personas?)
Create an editorial calendar
Having an editorial calendar is a requirement for managing the content creation and publication process. Your editorial calendar should include the desired schedule for your weekly blog posts and that month’s whitepapers or guides, and any other upcoming content (webinars, infographics, videos, etc.).
It should also note which buyer persona and which stage of the buying process each piece of content is for (so you don’t over stack any one stage). Here are more tips and examples to help you get started.
Invest more resources in content creation
Now take a deep breath and assess how much of your editorial calendar will actually get done (our experience: 50 to 75 percent). This is where it’s time to face the facts: you can’t do it all yourself.
Instead, you need to consider hiring a dedicated content marketer, outsourcing your excess content needs to a contractor or agency, and starting a community of content contributors (guest posts are great for your blog!). In any case, get ready to fight the budget battle or reallocate your marketing budgets. It will be worth it!
Build your social marketing audience
Use your B2B social marketing efforts to build a social audience (Twitter, LinkedIn, blog, Facebook) filled to the brim with prospects, customers and key influencers. That way, even if you still struggle to create as much content as you’d like, at least what you do create will get in front of the right audience (and they’ll share it, too).
Plus, now you’ll get to “listen” to what they read, share, and talk about… which will provide valuable insight into what topics and types of content should be added to next month’s editorial calendar.
Let us know the ways you’ve struggled with content marketing, and how you put things back on track… so we can share!
Image courtesy of Chatchawan (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: Carter has a lot of great information to share on B2B marketing. Read Scaling Social: The Future of B2B Social Marketing