One of the most widely discussed business trends over the past several years is that of brands becoming publishers to develop their own content in support of branding and performance marketing strategies. In fact, 73% of B2B marketers say they are producing more content than they did one year ago. This shift to develop engaging content is all part of the “build your own attention” era of marketing.
Any brand (or person) can publish “content”. However, producing high-performing content that engages a target audience, prospect or customer and has the ability to measure results is the new imperative.
This is where the nuance between “brands as publishers” (brand that simply create content) and a “brands as media companies” (brands that create content that achieves specific results, such as traffic, downloads, or revenue) is very different.
The discussion is important because, despite the amount of content being created, only 36% of marketers consider their companies effective at content marketing.
I’ve developed a set of recommendations for brands as they ramp up their content and publishing initiatives to strive for better, measurable outcomes:
Understand and play to the different types of marketing content that make up a well-rounded strategy. Thought leadership content is a conversation starter intended to create positive recognition of your brand while conveying industry intelligence; it’s not about selling. Performance content, conversely, is built with a sole focus of driving marketing outcomes. Blog content is often created in support of thought leadership goals, yet I see many marketers unable to resist the urge to sell in their blogs. That’s a big turnoff to potential customers.
Long-form, long-lead-time content is out. Agile content is in. Perfect marketing content can no longer be the objective; instead, your objective should be quality content that is true to your brand and serves a business outcome in a timely way. If it takes more than a month to develop and approve any piece of content, there’s a strong risk of the content being obsolete by the time you finish it, given today’s business velocity.
Perform three steps before starting any content development project:
Determine outcomes/goals first – Content should only be created when there’s an outcome, as well as a marketing message, to guide it
Take inventory – Evaluate what you have already; plot it on an audit sheet covering target audience, funnel stage and buying triggers; then rate its quality
Pick the right content developer – Well-written copy isn’t a differentiator; well-written copy that addresses buyer persona and needs to deliver performance is the differentiator, and that requires significant marketing savvy
Reuse, repurpose, recycle – The best content is developed with numerous uses in mind (think efficiency and ROI), and should be deployed in multiple channels. That said, be careful to avoid overuse of the same asset across months and quarters. Customers and prospects tire quickly.