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Customer not content

The wisdom of the central concepts behind inbound marketing techniques go largely unchallenged, and brands across the world are rushing to reap the rewards its successful adoption promises. That marketers are fully signed up to a content-focused future is proved beyond doubt in our 2013 Content Marketing Benchmarking Report. But this doesn’t mean all B2B brands are equally content with their inbound marketing performances.

While it is clear marketers understand the benefits of content marketing, lots of them are clearly struggling to implement it properly. Sizable problems, coming in the familiar guises of a lack of ROI, internal scepticism and a skills shortage, among others, are serving to derail best laid plans. Essentially, there is a sophistication challenge to overcome: it is considerably easier to create and pump out decent quality content than it is to evaluate and report the impact it is having. This is a truth difficult to ignore following even the most cursory examination of this report. 

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There seems to be a genuine desire within the B2B marketing community to start doing content marketing better. Marketers are not afraid of highlighting the areas in which they need help, and there is no shortage of methods – be they via internal or external training options, the implementation of better technologies or recruitment drives – capable of addressing shortfalls and skills gaps.

If I could offer one word of advice for marketers looking to implement, or improve, their content marketing strategies it would be to place your audience at the heart of everything you do. Far too often we see marketing (and other forms of content) that have clearly not been produced to appeal to human beings. Unreadable waffle-filled blogs, poorly produced video content, infographics designed because they are trendy rather than because they add value, and any number of other content crimes serve only to devalue the brand you are seeking to aid. 

Perhaps content marketing is actually a misleading phrase, skewing the primary focus. Maybe we’re not talking content here, but instead about customer marketing. That discussion, however, is perhaps best saved for another report. What we have here can be regarded as an authoritative snapshot of content marketing’s adoption within B2B marketing circles in 2013. I hope it provides a valuable insight.