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How To Succeed in B2B Content Marketing

A recent study by the Content Marketing Institute concluded that 84% of marketers who say they are ineffective at content marketing have no documented content strategy. Funny that.

Jumping into something blindly with no forethought or plan and FAILING!?! Who would’ve thunk it?

 

2013 really was the year of Content Marketing. It went from being the next big thing to being the thing. Everyone has been touting the potential benefits and as a consequence companies are diving in head first. And why wouldn’t they? The ability to better control your brand’s perception, cut back on traditional marketing costs, have customers chase you and all you have to do is write a blog or two – sign me up.

With that kind of misconception is it any wonder that only 42% of B2B marketers consider their content marketing effective.

The digital age has made us impulsive. The social media age has made us careless. In the past, if you were going to put your logo on something, you would have a plan and that plan would have fit into a larger strategy. Because content marketing is very much in its infancy companies seem to be happy to “try and see”. Nothing lost, nothing gained. The problem with that very non-committal attitude is that content marketing actually requires quite a bit of commitment.

Content marketing differs from traditional marketing in that it is less about campaigns and more about the on-going, day-in day-out production of high quality, highly relevant content. Once you start you can’t stop. That really seems like something you'd want to have a good think about before you start. Enter the Content Strategy.

 

What is a Content Strategy?

Kristina Halvorson, author of Content Strategy for the Web, describes content strategy as “planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.”

A good content strategy should outline what social channels to use, what types of content are to be shared via what channels, and a schedule of content production. The strategy must include content production guidelines; word count limits and tone of voice for blogs and visual guidelines for infographics and images.

As content marketing is as much about sharing other people’s content as it is about sharing your own, a good content strategy should also address content aggregation and curation: approved sources, industry or topic specific Twitter lists and RSS feeds and at what ratio you should share your own content vs. sharing other’s.

Now here’s where a lot of companies seem to falter with content marketing, a content strategy (like all other strategies you’ve ever studied, read, written or followed) must include objectives and measurements. You need to know why you’re doing it in order to know if you’re doing it well. The format and vehicle may be new, but it doesn't mean we forget everything we've ever known about success in marketing.

 

Plan. Do. Check. Act.

Social media moves fast, and because of that you are most likely feeling pressure to do something quickly. If you don’t have a content strategy yet you’re already behind. Content marketing is here for the foreseeable future so as much as you need to get started, you also need to avoid starting off on the wrong foot. Keep reading the blogs, ask for professional help (we don't bite) and take the time to plan before you start doing.

Look before you leap.

Article by Katie Canton
Social Media Manager at Birddog
Find Katie on: Twitter - LinkedIn - Google+