According to MarketingProfs' 2012 Content Marketing Benchmarks report, the top two challenges for today's content marketers are:
- Producing the kind of content that engages prospects and customers (41%)
- Producing enough content (20%)
With the increasing move to content marketing, especially in B2B, the need to get both quality and quantity has never been greater. Whacking together a couple of self-serving case studies and an inaccessible white paper won't cut it (and let's face it, they never really did). So what can the time-poor, budget-limited marketer do?
Producing engaging content
Too many companies still assume that customers are really very interested in their businesses. That, somehow, if they can just get their story about their products and their 'solutions' in front of customers, those same customers will devour it and pass it on to everyone on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Back in the real world of course, it doesn't work that way.
Customers have 1,001 things to worry about every day. Chances are that your product is not one of them. Sorry.
What they really worry about is themselves of course. They worry how they're going to compete more effectively, become more agile, market their products better, keep their costs down – you know, all the stuff you worry about too.
The trick to producing engaging content is to discover what these worries actually are, tease out the ones that your business has some expertise in (and that your products ultimately solve) and then produce content that makes those customers' days just a bit better.
Yes, I hear you say, but how? Good question – three things to start:
- Listen first – everyone will tell you this – what are customers asking about both online and to your salespeople and resellers? A little searching and a couple of well-phrased Google Alerts can go a long way
- Image you were publishing a magazine for your industry (a good one, not just another trade rag) – what would your 4 core themes for the year be? (This will form the basis for a quarterly content cycle.)
- Search out the opinion formers in your sector – you probably already know who they are – what are they saying? Are they right? What are they missing? What are the overarching themes when you look across the industry gurus?
From this foundation, you should begin to have the basis for a content plan.
As long as you always keep repeating "this is about them not about me," you should be fine.
Producing enough content
But what about quantity? How can you create enough stuff?
The first thing to look at is where you can get content. This falls into 4 key areas:
- Legacy content – stuff you already have that could be either repurposed or combined into new content
- Created content – brand shiny new content that you get a very talented writer to create for you
- Commissioned content – content that you get a third-party to create under their own name for you (either paying them to do so or under a guest blogging style arrangement)
- Curated content – existing content that already exists on the web (and that gets added to every day) that you can bring to your customers' attention and, importantly, have your own say about
The next thing is to atomise your content.
Virtually every piece of content can spawn a number of others. Let's say you create a 12-page ebook on a key topic. From this you could then create:
- A set of how-to cheat sheets
- A number of blog posts focusing on different areas
- Some interviews with customers and partners to get their take on the issue
- Countless tweets
- A curated set of posts from around the web that also cover the issue
- A presentation to go on Slideshare
- A poll or two to go on key LinkedIn groups
- An infographic covering key points
And that's just the start. Because you have the core content as a starting place, creating added-value derivatives becomes easier and less time-consuming.
So there you have it, content marketers' top two challenges solved.
Tomorrow? World peace.