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B2B insights

If content is king, why is treated like a pauper?

Roundtable

How many pieces of content have you seen today? 10? 50? 100? Forget about your own marketing team’s output for a second – just think about the sheer amount of digital content you’ve seen on social media, TV or your laptop today alone… the volume is staggering.

What’s even more staggering is just how forgettable and aimless some of that content is. Whilst B2B marketers know that content is important to their strategy, the truth is that pressure from above, the internal perception of marketing’s role, complexity around global campaigns, and lack of investment are all leading to content that lacks the focus and impact that is needed to clearly and demonstrably drive growth.

This is what we learned in our recent B2B Marketing roundtable in association with digital asset management solutions provider, Canto. The conversation? If content is king, why is it treated like a pauper?

This roundtable was conducted under Chatham House Rules, so no names, titles or companies have been included in this report. What we can reveal, however, are some of the common challenges marketing teams face, as well as the solutions they can put in place to overcome these challenges.

Educate business leaders on the value that marketing can bring

According to one roundtable attendee, the challenge his team faces is around changing the perception of what marketing is there to do, and communicating that value clearly to the senior leadership.

As long as marketing continues to be seen as a cost-centre and not a business driver, the strategic importance that content can play will not be fully realised, and we’ll be left creating odd bits of content here and there, because ‘that’s what we’ve always done’. It is incumbent upon marketing leaders, therefore, to educate the business leadership team how marketing as a whole can drive value. Then, and only then, can we develop strategies and content that deliver upon that promise.

This notion was raised in a previous recent roundtable we ran, in which we discussed how marketing can move away from a cost-centre and towards being a growth-driver. You can read our full findings on this here.

This is the absolutely critical first step (albeit a huge one) that marketers must take if they are to truly get the most out of their content moving forwards.

Ignore channel FOMO, and stick to your strategic goals

Following on from this, another challenge is the pressure around being seen to be doing things. By this, we mean the near-intangible notion of ‘we have to do something with TikTok’ or ‘we have to do a story on AI’.

The work that marketers produce is, by its very nature, the most publicly visible of any business function. With that can come pressure from the top to be seen in every possible channel and to have a say on any topic that seems relevant at that time.

However, bringing it back to strategic alignment, the first question marketers should be asking (whether they’re a CMO or a marketing assistant) is: how is this driving growth for the business? The answer to that question will rarely be straightforward, but it should be able to be communicated in business terms – not marketing metrics. If we as marketers can do that effectively, then we’re in a strong position to continue educating the senior leadership around the value that marketing can bring, and where we should – and shouldn’t – be focusing our effort. This increased focus and ability to say ‘no’ will help give marketers the authority and the headspace to create content that drives growth.

Have a big idea, and then go from there

With so much pressure to deliver content, it can be easy to go down a rabbit hole of delivering 30 standalone items. The message from our roundtable attendees, however, was to start with a big, creative, exciting idea – one that actually resonates with your audience – and then work out ways to atomise that content and link back to it.

By doing this, marketers can ensure that the content they create is part of a curated journey, with one step leading to a next, as opposed to a scattergun approach, where some content sticks, and some doesn’t.

Create clear processes to manage content at scale

Another challenge raised was around the difficulty of maintaining the quality of content and adherence to brand guidelines across multiple divisions and offices, often in different regions.

Whilst marketing may have grand ideas of what their content should look like, actually ensuring it is up to scratch can be challenging when there are so many guidelines, logos, fonts and assets all scattered across poorly organised systems, or lost in email chains.

The ultimate solution here will be a combination of putting proper processes in place and communicating those processes, but technology can also help in this instance, ensuring content assets, imagery, copy and so on, are all easily findable.

Everyone’s keeping an eye on AI, but few are all in on it yet

Of course, it wouldn’t be a roundtable without a conversation about the capability of AI. The findings from this roundtable are unlikely to shock you, however, as most attendees were in agreement that the possibilities were impressive, but that we’re just not there yet.
Whilst it’s clear that AI will change the game – particularly with the recent introduction of AI video generation technologies like Sora – it’s also clear that most marketers aren’t ready to start rolling out AI as part of their actual day-to-day content creation. It’s likely that we will be using these tools on a regular basis in the future, but exactly when that will happen remains to be seen.

One thing we should keep in mind, however, is that marketers that do upskill on AI and actually find ways to create high quality content at scale are going to be in high-demand. So, whilst marketers as a whole aren’t yet fully invested in AI, don’t let this put you off. On the flip-side, we see it as an opportunity to set yourself apart from your peers.

Final thoughts: Think business first

As with many roundtables, this session was 50% marketing therapy, with attendees sharing their frustrations with their peers, and 50% finding solutions (as we’ve discussed above).

Ultimately, most frustration can be boiled down to the fact that the strategic value of marketing isn’t being fully realised in many B2B organisations. If we can get that right, and we can clearly demonstrate to our business leadership teams exactly what marketing can deliver (with the right investment), then ability to generate powerful content campaigns that drive growth is very much within our sight.

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