So you know that you want to move to a more content-focused approach for your B2B marketing.
Actually, chances are you already produce some content but not in a particularly focused way and not tied to the different stages of your sales funnel. But, of course, at first glance content marketing looks like a lot of work and, let’s face it, time’s ticking, your targets aren’t getting any less challenging and you need to get something out the door fast.
All is not lost.
The reality is that not all content needs to be an all-singing, all-dancing Busby Berkeley affair with a cast of thousands and a lead time of months and months. By focusing on delivering a mix of content, you can get up and running relatively quickly and buy yourself some time for more considered pieces.
We call this the 4 Cs of content marketing.
The fastest, easiest way to get on the content marketing bus is by curating existing content from other sources. It’s partly why there have been so many posts about curation machines/engines/factories etc.
It’s also why we’re seeing the growth of various tools that promise to do the job for you. And yes, a number of them can do the job for you (if you want the job doing badly that is).
While content curation is a great way in, doing it well is not a case of set it and forget it.
Some superstar bloggers can produce a weekly round-up of links and get lots of traffic. However, they are already getting lots of traffic anyway. The rest of us need to work a little harder.
Curation is about making sense of a subject for others. So you should look to bring your curated content together around a theme.
Critically, you should have an opinion about it: Why did you select it? Do you agree with its viewpoint? What does it mean for your own customers?
This is where you add value. Too often we see businesses simply scraping the first 10 results from Google and delivering them as a list. What use is that when customers can do exactly the same?
A major limit on many companies’ ability to take full advantage of a content-led approach is time and resources.
Many take a DIY approach where B2B content creation becomes another item on their marketers’ and subject matter experts’ to-do lists. Thing is, it then faces an almost permanent struggle to get to the top of that list.
While some businesses have got very serious about building their content creation team in-house, the vast majority have not. It simply doesn’t make sense for their business and they can find it incredibly difficult to attract the talent that they’ll need to do an effective job.
The answer is to commission someone else to do it.
Typically this will either be a freelance writer or a B2B content marketing agency (or, if you have the budget, potentially an analyst house).
Whichever you choose, take the time to find someone who really understands your market and can put your products and services into a wider business context. They should also be able to adapt to your brand’s tone of voice and ghostwrite for key individuals.
And while this obviously costs money, when you compare it to the costs of doing it yourself (time, quality, missed opportunities etc), it will often be more cost-effective in the long run.
For more on finding good writers, see our article: Why you can’t find good B2B writers (and what you can do about it)
A bit of a cheat on the whole beginning-with-C thing, but the next least time-consuming way to produce a sufficient volume of content within an acceptable time is to look at what you’ve already got.
Many companies already have a lot of content. They’ll have existing case studies, old articles, primary research and presentations galore. They may also have access to content from partner companies.
The first challenge is to track all this content down a get it into one place. After this, you can begin looking across what you’ve got to explore what you can re-create from it.
So, for example, you may have a set of case studies that you’ve built up over the years – are there some common themes that would enable you to develop a new piece?
Let’s imagine you’ve done lots of work in the public sector and have the case studies to prove it, you could develop a piece on the key challenges facing the public sector as a whole after a tight spending review and illustrate this with quotes and examples from other material.
Likewise, there may be a number of presentations that could be turned into mini-ebooks or simply tidied up and shared on LinkedIn. You get the picture.
So now we’ve reached the stuff that does take more time – content created from scratch.
But with a good base-layer of content from our other 3 Cs, you can now afford to spend the time getting your created content right. This will often be your top-of-funnel thought leadership material, so it pays to spend time (and yes, some money) on doing a great job.
Ultimately, not every B2B content marketing strategy means trying to boil the ocean or re-create Wikipedia. By focusing on achieving a mix of content types from a variety of sources, you can deliver both volume and momentum.
Jason Ball is the founder and managing director at Considered. With a multi-decade career in B2B marketing, he’s worked with world-leading brands such as Adobe, Google, EY and Cisco together with niche specialists in technology, manufacturing and professional services.