In the flurry of predictions for hot marketing trends in 2013 and beyond, you’d be hard pressed to find a story that didn’t include content at its core. Whatever the context – delivered via digital, social, or mobile; designed for demand gen or ongoing customer engagement; paid, earned or owned media – it’s in there. With content as king (and perhaps queen and court), Forbes suggests that brands’ attention has shifted from ‘why content marketing’ to ‘how to.’ We’ve seen that trend borne out with our clients as well.
In evaluating your own content strategy and how to take it to the next level, be brutally honest in answering five key questions:
1. Are you striking the right balance by offering content that provides value across the buyers’ journey or are you are more skewed in one phase at the expense of others? For many content marketers, resources are often focused heavily on filling the ‘top of the funnel’ (demand generation), but fall short on driving consideration, preference or even engaging customer ‘fans’ as a powerful post-purchase channel. Take stock of where your content gaps lie and recalibrate to ensure you’ve got the kind of content that holds the most sway at each phase of the path to purchase.
2. In your zeal to continue to ‘feed the beast,’ are you cannibalizing your own content efforts? With the seemingly never-ending demand for more, more, more – 64% of B2B content marketers cite ‘producing enough content’ as their #1 challenge, according to Content Marketing Institute’s 2013 Content Marketing report. The question is – are you giving your content ‘time to breathe.’ Producing too many pieces too fast may not allow you to maximize the value of those assets. Finding the right cadence for your audience is key.
3. Are the customers’ or prospects’ information needs at the heart of your content program? A corollary to Questions 1 and 2. Content marketing is driven by both your brand’s overarching business objectives – no apologies here — AND the need to create value for your target. Clearly, content strategy should be designed to effectively marry the two. This will also drive a flight to quality. Content consumers have too many options on too many screens to waste precious time on content that doesn’t engage them in a compelling and channel appropriate way. To borrow a phrase from CMI’s Joe Pulizzi, ‘quality is the new quantity.’
4. Is there visibility across your organization of what content exists, is in development, or planned? The benefits of such a content ‘window’ (powered by CMS technology) are clear — message consistency, brand alignment, greater efficiency/less duplication of efforts, more throughput, increased opportunity for amplification, and cost savings, to name a few. The larger, more dispersed the content organization, the greater the potential value.
5. Do you have a content plan upfront – or are you constantly in repurposing mode? In other words, are you regularly asking ‘what should we do with this great piece of content now that I have it’ – after the fact. A more efficient and effective starting point is to look at what you’re trying to accomplish, then laying out how to tell that story in a way that’s best suited to each key channel – before any content is developed. Think about content cornerstones that center on topics providing high value to your target and best represent your brand. Map it out – who’s creating what assets when, distributing/amplifying them where and when, driving content consumers to what action, and tracking how well that content performs. Learn and adjust as needed. Carefully crafting a content strategy in advance can provide powerful guidance for more effective development and deployment of content.
How you answer these key questions – and more importantly, what you choose to do going forward — can spell the difference between being good enough and setting a new content marketing standard.