Missing or under-performing customer facing content has a significant impact on strategic business objectives:
- new customer acquisition and organic revenue growth,
- sales and marketing productivity and efficiency for lower selling costs,
- data acquisition and
- customer experience.
B2B lead generation and conversion rates are universally below expectations. Late stage content in sales cycles hasn’t evolved to support buyer-centered selling practices.
A realistic assessment of the underlying cause of the problem helps you apply the right solution, because it allows you to see the real cause of the problem. In our view, there are seven primary reasons you are not getting the most out of your customer facing content.
1. Customer facing content is not created on purpose.
Content has a specific “job” to do for both marketing and sales tactics. How you define the purpose of your content depends on the specific information required for each “touch,” the user experience you want content to evoke, and the outcomes it needs to affect. All of this must be explicitly defined for content creators.
Recommended practice: define content use case requirements and specifications for each content asset.
2. Poor content quality
B2B content quality is almost universally derided. Whether it’s the “content shock” or the CRAP dialog, the reality is well identified. Why is this still the case?
Content quality criteria have changed. We regularly hear of content audits and assessments conducted against the following criteria. Is content:
- well written
- in brand
- in the voice of the customer
- of high production value
- mapped to a buyer stage (or persona)?
These are table stakes criteria. Necessary but no longer sufficient.
There are new criteria that are more focused on the contentS. They begin with the need to deliver differentiated and exceptionally useful insights. They also include the need to:
- meet the use case purpose for which it’s needed (See #1)
- focus on the right set of key points, facts, and stories for each use situation
- produce the right form (micro, short, long) and formats (text, e-book, whitepaper, graphic, video, etc).
How do you define and communicate to content creators the quality criteria for each asset? This is essential to align content requesters, creators and users around a common understanding of quality for each asset.
Recommended practice: develop a master checklist of content quality criteria. Use a content requisition checklist that identifies all content quality factors for creators.
3. Content is not relevant to audiences.
How have you documented your definitions of content relevance? Seldom are specific relevance criteria for each asset conveyed to content creators. In addition, seldom are production teams asked to create multiple versions to meet primary relevance use cases across the entire “buyer journey.” (See #1)
The best way to deliver optimal relevance for each situation, audience and purpose is to enable your front-line marketing and sales professionals with content that can be edited, configured and packaged into finished content.
Recommended practice: define relevance. Adopt modular content design practices to deliver editable and configurable content source to the front line. (See #7)
4. Content is not available when needed.
How have you defined your “meets minimum” content requirements? How well do you pre-produce content so it’s ready the moment it’s needed? “The right time” is NOW for important engagement points. Coverage of primary use case requirements matters. Critical mass matters. (See #1)
Recommended practice: define content coverage requirements based on use case assessments. Adopt a more leveraged content operation. (See #7)
5. Content is not sales ready.
Content for sales is a major weakness for many organizations. Sales effectiveness is what delivers top business outcomes. How have you analyzed and specified sales content requirements? Typically, marketing content isn’t focused enough for key sales engagement purposes. It may not be in the right form or format. It might not be easily tailored for each situation. (See #1 and #2)
Recommended practice: develop a sales content strategy.
6. Ineffective or missing content strategy.
Most content strategy is applied at the project or tactic level, sometimes at the function level. This is strategy to optimize individual work product quality. Few organizations have develop a unified, cross-functional content strategy at the business level to optimize business results. We seldom see formal and effect frameworks in place that deliver high quality content strategy outputs.
7. Outdated content operations model.
Perhaps the most challenging reason you don’t get the most out of your content is your production model. Over 20 years creating content for B2B sales and marketing organizations we have determined:
The traditional, project-oriented, creative craftsman approach to content production is outdated. It can’t efficiently support the content requirements of ALL customer engaging functions across the enterprise. It will not meet the many new digital content criteria to support empowered buyers, their digital channel and format preferences. It cannot scale without compromise.
Symptoms include the inability to create a constant stream of content, optimized to the ten new criteria, especially at the pace and scale required.
Recommended practice: adopt a leveraged content supply chain process, and modular creation techniques, to leverage every project, resource, asset and invested dollar for maximum output, performance and business result.
The linked content above provide deeper explanations of each key cause and recommended practice.