It’s no secret that the landscape of marketing has gone from outbound messaging to inbound tactics, also known as content marketing. Because of this shift, the constant need for content has opened up – especially for B2B marketers.
According to The Content Marketing Institute, 86% of B2B marketers currently use a formal content marketing strategy. Why is the formal strategy part important? Because it wasn’t long ago (just in 2014 to be exact) that CMI defined content marketing as:
“The creation and distribution of educational and/or compelling content in multiple media formats to attract and/ or retain customers.”
The 2015 definition of content marketing brings a subtle change:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
The key to any kind of business success is having a solid plan in place first. Before you decide to delve into B2B content marketing, ask yourself these 7 critical questions first:
What’s the goal of my content marketing strategy?
In order for any kind of marketing to be effective, you have to know what the overarching goal is. Do you know what successful content marketing looks like? Do you know how its success will boost your bottom line?
Marketing is usually considered an expense instead of an investment and sometimes, perception becomes reality. If you want to get any kind of ROI from your content marketing efforts, think about what you need to see in order to quantify success and deem your marketing efforts fruitful. Understanding metrics is key here.
Am I focusing on the right kind of metrics?
In the beginning, it can be exhilarating to get swept up in your growing number of followers, likes, shares and web traffic but these vanity metrics don’t really give you anything other than an ego boost.
[tweetthis url=”http://wp.me/p6R74a-5h”]Vanity metrics – fans, followers, tweets, likes – don’t give you anything other than an ego boost.[/tweetthis]
While many metrics do bring value to the table, you should focus on building your email list. This is slightly different in generating leads since these particular readers are individuals who are genuinely interested in your content.
Who’s going to produce the content?
If you’re a solopreneur than the answer to this question is obvious. If you’re a small business, then your challenge may be finding quality content creation, in-house or outsourced.
Either way, before devoting time and money to your B2B content marketing strategy, make sure you have the resources to actually produce quality content.
How Will My Content Be Different Than Everyone Else’s?
Just as you have a differentiation when it comes to your business mission statement, your content should have also have your own spin on it.
If you want to build your audience, then you’ll have to offer content that’s different than what everyone else is writing. Your customers come to you because you offer something different – bottle that up and mix it in your content marketing.
[tweetthis url=”http://wp.me/p6R74a-5h”]Your customers come to you because you offer something different – bottle that up and mix it in your content. [/tweetthis]
Whether it’s a strong point of view on industry trends and news or personal anecdotes and experiences that draws readers in, give your audience something they will miss if it’s not there.
How Will I Keep Track of It All?
The key to a successful marketing plan is documentation. If you’re just starting out, maybe a pen and planner will work just fine. If you’re privy to having a couple team members help you with content marketing, then using a basic Google Doc or (dare I say it) Excel spreadsheet can work in the beginning as well.
Whatever tool you decide to use, just be sure that documenting everything becomes habit. Having an editorial calendar helps you visualize the plan, which is critical to launching a successful B2B content marketing program.
A good editorial calendar should contain these elements:
-Target Publish Date
-Content type (blog post, news article, etc.)
-Social media content and schedule
How Much Content Should I Produce?
This is probably the most commonly asked question after deciding to implement a content marketing strategy. No one will ever be able to tell you an exact number when it comes to creating content – it really depends on the needs of your business and your audience.
Something to consider is that content marketing rests on the notion of providing valuable and relevant content to your readers – so creating fresh content on a weekly basis for your business blog is in your best interest.
[tweetthis url=”http://wp.me/p6R74a-5h”]Content marketing rests on the notion of providing relevant content – fresh weekly content is beneficial.[/tweetthis]
Not only that, it shows your audience that you’re committed to this new dialogue and keeps search engines happy, ensuring your website ranks favorably.
How Will I Promote My B2B Content Marketing?
That’s right – content marketing is more than publishing content. You also have to market your content marketing.
How will you do that? Two words: social media.
When you have a good piece of content marketing, social media audiences will embrace it with open arms and help spread the word about your brand.
As social media expert Jay Baer said: “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline”.
Many of us have seen the results when these two marketing strategies work in tandem successfully.
B2B marketers know that content marketing is a concept that’s here to stay – time and time again, businesses realize that the ROI is greater than traditional marketing methods. Before you delve into the world of content marketing, be sure to ask yourself these critical questions first, to ensure you develop a solid strategy.