According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2013 Benchmarks study, most B2B marketers surveyed identified producing enough content for their content marketing initiatives and producing the kind of content that engages as their biggest challenges. The survey was conducted with a sample of subscribers to the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, representing a range of companies across North America.
With 91% of respondents reporting using content marketing, it is not surprising that only 22% of those surveyed identified getting corporate buy-in for content marketing was a challenge. Less than half identified lack of budget (39%) as a challenge. In fact, 54% said they planned to increase their content marketing budget in the next year.
It is tempting to think that the sample is skewed toward the content marketing converts. For the uninitiated, here’s a quick definition of content marketing. It is content that:
- is selling without the sales pitch
- educates, entertains and engages the customer
- is audience-centred, rather than product- and service-centred
With the shift in thinking required by organizations to move from being the purveyor of campaigns to publishing content, almost for content’s sake, it is hard to believe that any but the most visionary management would be fully on board.
Here are a few points to ponder if executive buy-in, as well as producing enough and the right kinds of content, is a challenge for your organization.
It’s Not New
Content marketing is a new name for an old technique. For example, John Deere has been publishing its magazine, The Furrow, since 1895.
Arguably, the first branded B2B publication, it covers agriculture and farming, topics of interest to John Deere customers, whether or not they’re currently in the market for a tractor.
Content marketing doesn’t hide its brand affiliation. It is NOT advertorials or infomercials, dressing up ads as journalism or using deception to conceal marketing messages. It IS providing useful information, not necessarily all about the product or service for sale, to a specific audience that consumes it in exchange for exposure to the brand.
It Informs and Educates
A content marketing plan is not product- or service-centred, but audience-centred. It addresses the needs and questions of your audience. For example, GoToMeeting’s Twitter feed is a stream of infographics, SlideShares, webinars, videos and articles geared to business people. Combining its own content with curated links on a variety of business topics, GoToMeeting demonstrates its brand values of sharing and being a trustworthy source of information—not just about meetings and teleconferencing.
It Is Measurable
Respondents identified brand awareness (79%), lead generation (71%), customer loyalty (64%) and thought leadership (61%) as their top goals for web content marketing, with sales at the bottom of the list (43%). They conceded that measuring the results was a challenge. Some metrics found helpful include web traffic (60%), sales leads (quality, 51%; quantity, 43%), social media shares (43%), and direct sales, SEO ranking and customer feedback (tied at 41%).
The Big Question
Is it effective? No matter what forms your content marketing program take—infographics, how-to articles, white papers, magazines, videos, blogs—to be truly effective, it has to be about the audience. Who are they, what keeps them up at night, what do they care about? Getting these answers to the right people, in the right form and through the right channels is a huge challenge, but there are a lot of opportunity for savvy companies.