Leaping The Content-Creation Hurdle

By now, most B2B marketers know that creating content — blogs, white papers, etc. — is a critical component of marketing success. The importance of thought leadership is well established in the B2B space. And the value of a great content portfolio — one that nurtures prospects, drives search engine traffic and serves as an engine of social media success — has been hammered home consistently as the interactive marketing space has matured. Each step in the evolution of the web has amplified the opportunity to communicate with customers and prospects through high-quality thought leadership, from corporate website content to blogs and, increasingly, through social media.

So why is it so hard to create quality content on a consistent basis? The reason usually comes down to one simple word: bandwidth. Marketers simply don’t have the time. This was the situation when blogs first emerged as an important tactic several years ago, and it hasn’t changed much in the current age of social media. The only thing that has changed is the volume of opportunity you’re missing without a content-development plan in place.

Top 2 Content-Creation Stumbling Blocks

If the value of great content is well established, then why is it so difficult for B2B marketers to find the time and resources necessary for content development — particularly when it comes to hiring new staff or reassigning current resources?

For the most part, it comes down to two essential issues:

1) The payoff isn’t obvious.

Most marketing tactics have a readily visible set of objectives and a fairly easily measurable return on investment (ROI) — assuming you are accurately tracking all of your marketing initiatives. (And you are accurately tracking all of your marketing initiatives … right?)

Assigning ROI to content creation can be difficult. Content creation and dissemination have multiple uses — search engine optimization, brand awareness, prospect nurturing, conversion maximization, etc. — so the impact is spread over multiple channels and a wide time range.

Addressing this issue can seem complex. After all, multichannel attribution is still an emerging area in marketing. However, there are less complicated ways to develop an ROI model for content development. They start with a couple of simple questions:

  • Based on your current site conversion rate, how many more visits would it take to get a new customer?
  • What is one new customer worth?

For many B2B companies, getting one deal per year that they would not have secured without an aggressive content program will more than pay for the expense of a full-time content staff.

2) Content creation requires time from critical senior resources.

You can hire a marketing coordinator to manage your email communications, and you can outsource your search marketing, but addressing content creation isn’t quite as easy.

Thought leadership comes from thought leaders, and those are senior people — most of whom do not have a whole lot of time available in their day to publish blog posts, tweet and write white papers.

Leaping this hurdle may seem a bit daunting. Who wants to go to the senior vice president of product development and tell him to drop everything and write a blog post?

The important thing in addressing this issue is to get the momentum started and identify your potential thought leaders. Then determine what it would take to turn their input into content. How much of a time commitment is really needed from them? Can you reduce that commitment by assigning a writer to work with them? Are there ways to incentivize a larger group of employees to participate in content generation? Are there ways to free up their time by shifting some of the current responsibilities?

Of course, you can also go out and develop relationships with outside experts; many successful B2B marketers use external resources, whether it’s for simple white paper creation or ongoing consulting. But ultimately, you’ll want to cultivate thought leadership within your organization. After all, it’s your expertise that you’re selling — not your ability to hire it.

Aligning Your Resources with New Marketing Realities

The first instinct in many companies is to conclude that it’s a waste of money to shift resources from “real tasks” to content development or to hire experienced content marketing consultants. This is a short-sighted and outdated viewpoint.

The marketing world has changed. Your prospects have access to more information and they are hungry for knowledge. They are well informed before your sales team even talks to them. So if you want to be at the table while they’re gathering information, you need to invest in developing quality content.

In future posts, I’ll discuss how to build some simple ROI models to justify assigning resources to content development and how to help unlock the thought leadership potential within your organization.