Companies struggle to keep up with the content demands of a digital business environment.
As B2B selling organizations adopt social selling practices, current content volume requirements will seem puny by comparison.
You better have a strategy to scale without compromising quality, timeliness and, of course, cost.
In the content business, create vs. curate is similar to the traditional business decision of make vs. buy. To the degree companies develop a formal B2B content strategy, deciding this mix is one decision output.
What if there’s a third way?
This won’t be a breakthrough insight. It recommends elevating an important technique for higher execution. This technique many companies seldom use and may not have considered in content strategy decisions.
B2B Content Strategy
A simple way of thinking about content strategy is to answer two main questions:
On-purpose — What content do we need and why? What’s the “job” content must perform?
By Design — How should content be designed and developed to meet that need?
To address the first question, we recommend companies define their use case requirements (UCR). This will be based on an analysis of the buyer decision process (B2B buyers don’t “journey”.) We find use case definitions to be an important, deeper, but typically missing output from content strategy work. UCRs inform content requirements.
To address the second question, B2B content strategy must identify primary topics customers care about, and that relate to company offers.
A topic architecture defines sub-topics, categories, related concepts and message themes for each primary topic. This identifies the specific (sub) topics where your company might focus insights and content. It provides keywords that drive automated curation systems.
To further refine and define primary focus topics, companies should identify those that support or “lead to” your unique capabilities. (See blog Unpacking Challenger Customer Insights.)
The next step is to assess the competitive landscape for your content. Remember, your content is a product. It must compete not just with your direct competitors, but with everyone writing about each topic.
Your objective is to find specific topics where your insights and content are either truly unique or where you can out articulate your competition.
Content curation is represented by products like Curata, ScoopIt and many others (see Content Curation Tools – The Ultimate List). These engines suck in third party content from the web using keyword driven algorithms.
Once you set up the systems with keywords, you need someone to review and select articles to share from those the system identifies. These articles are automatically delivered through a newsletter style email, a company blog, or on a topic-specific micro site.
This is a simple, easy, low cost technique to add inventory to your key content properties. Theoretically, it provides value to audiences by selecting and aggregating topic relevant content. But it’s a commoditized, low value technique. For any topic there are websites that exclusively do this, far better than most companies can.
The Third Way
Consider the content needs of your audiences and buyers. They are interested in:
- Basic, foundational information that addresses core topic questions. These topics are universally understood, and many people write about them. As such, your content investments in these topics are of low relative value.You should selectively identify the most important of these topics, and the least competitive sources that are writing well about them. Apply traditional automated curation practices to this category of content.
- High value topics where you bring unique insights, point-of-view, or credentialed information. These are the topics you want to “own.” This is where you can out articulate your competition. This is where you want to prioritize your investment and focus for original content.
- Important information that meets a “must have” threshold for your buyers and company. You must provide it, the question is how best to do so.
This is where the third way comes in. You curate content, but add value. We call this “curation plus.”
For topics where you aren’t the best, most credentialed source, or don’t possess unique and differentiating insights, you want to lower your content investment level.
Curate content from the best, most credentialed sources. Analyst firms are a great example. Others include independent experts from universities, think tanks, big companies and bloggers.
The difference is, don’t just pass third party articles through as you do for traditional curation. Add value.
Extract key points and present them in the context of your story, point-of-view, insights or key capabilities. Edit them into your proprietary content. This makes the effort a low cost editing job, rather than a more expensive creation project. This approach scales, at relatively low cost.
Here are three examples. The first two are our blogs based on an Accenture content research report and a Forrester webinar. The third is a new technique we’ve developed, Successful Salespeople Are Content Curators.
Align Effort and Investment
This approach gets you the content you need, at the scale required, to cover your primary use case requirements, without scaling investment and resources.
As a recommended mix, not a rigid allocation, consider allocating your content volume 30% to high value proprietary topics, 60% to important topics through “curation plus”, and 10% to basic information using traditional curation methods.
Investment allocation recommendations might be 60% to high value proprietary content, 30% to curation plus content and 10% to traditional curation.
This approach leverages your content investments, operations, and marketing and selling resources with more/better content.
Now, leverage your sales people. Teach them how to find and acquire appropriate assets. Google Alerts and LinkedIn are obvious sources. So too are industry websites. If each of your reps acquires just 5 articles per week, what your your inventory look like in just 60 days.
Speak with us about a process and supporting technology recommendations for this critical practice.
It begins with quality B2B content strategy work. Requires new thinking. And takes a simple but different approach to content creation. It’s one of many examples of the value of applying new approaches to content operations we recommend.