B2B content marketing within large businesses has a problem. Actually, to be fair, B2B marketing as a whole has a problem.
While some of the thinking has moved forward to embrace new channels and new approaches, the way it’s actually delivered hasn’t changed much in the last decade.
Put simply: it’s way, way too slow.
It’s not difficult to see why. Companies want to be sure that they’re doing the right thing. B2B marketers within large businesses need to ensure everyone is on side – from their bosses to their bosses’ bosses to the head of sales to whatever other stakeholders they may deem important.
For their part, agencies have evolved to mirror their clients. So they end up matching their clients’ structures with their own. Account exec to marketing exec. Account manager to marketing manager. Account director to marketing director. (And a client services director for when it’s all going wrong.)
Many agencies still base their pricing around time (a practice often encouraged by client procurement). This means that the more people and more time they spend on a project, the more money they’ll make.
It’s a system that rewards inefficiency. (Something to think about the next time you have three account handlers sitting across from you with only one contributing in any meaningful way.)
The end result of all this is that when many of these companies finally produce some content, it has been beaten into blandness with the soggy end of consensus and costs the equivalent of the GDP of Belgium.
This is bonkers.
Of course other industries have been here before. Take software development. Not so long ago, releases took an age, always overran on time and money, and often delivered a somewhat underwhelming product.
While this still happens now, it’s generally to a far lesser extent. Of course, some of the changes in the nuts and bolts of programming have had an effect. But, as much as anything, it’s the adoption of agile ways of working that’s made the biggest difference.
This has led to faster update cycles, more up-to-date functionality and a better relationship with users.
The world’s moving fast. Opportunities are fleeting. First mover advantage carries a lot of weight.
Agile B2B content marketing focuses on outmaneuvering the competition. It is the ability to exploit changes in situation before others do. And to keep exploiting them over time.
It means not fighting reactionary battles you cannot win. But rather, shaping the market to your aims and objectives.
Of course this all sounds good in theory (and we’d be the first to admit that ‘agile’ has become a buzzword in recent years). So what does this mean in practice?
There are 5 core elements:
A focus on just enough planning with rapid content development in small, iterative stages (test and invest)
Tight, collaborative teams rather than extended anyone-with-a-pulse decision making (get the power in the room)
Treat customers as co-developers (listen, learn and lead)
Adapt to changing conditions faster than competitors (get inside the decision loop)
Review regularly and adjust accordingly (react and reorient)
The result of applying these elements in an intelligent way is that you’ll be able to develop a continuous stream of customer-focused content that outpaces the competition and delivers against your core objectives.
Or, to put it another way: you’ll get stuff done, you’ll create the stuff your customers want and need, and be able to devote budget to what matters rather than subsidising the salary of yet another account executive.
We’d love to talk to you about how agile B2B content marketing could make a difference for your business. Contact Sarah Platts and we’ll arrange a time to talk.
Image by marksontok
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.