Business-to-business selling organizations that have adopted inbound and content marketing strategies to deliver relevant, useful, educational content to prospective buyers should give this question serious consideration.
Four factors implicate this as a possible requirement:
- Universal business drivers
- Each company’s go-to-market goals, strategies and plans
- Content strategy and requirements
- Challenges that constrain content performance
Universal Business Drivers
In our post Business Trends Indicate Need for Enterprise Content Strategy and Operations Management we presented relevant insights from several prominent analyst firms on top business trends that have implications for customer facing content:
- the digital enterprise,
- digital marketing,
- digital content,
- enterprise content strategy and operations.
As these analysts make clear, content is a strategic imperative, and primary driver of top business objectives.
Changes in several areas are contributing to the need to adopt a unified marketing and sales content strategy that goes beyond marketing, websites and contentprojects, among many others:
- Buyer expectations
- Competitive factors
- Revenue growth goals
- Sales and marketing efficiency
This strategy must address the content needs of ALL customer facing constituents including, sales, customer service, HR and the sales channel.
Analysts also make clear organizations need a new content operations management model to effectively execute their marketing and sales content strategy.
“… a need for a different operating paradigm—and the fact that traditionally siloed functions (for example, marketing, product development, or IT) could obstruct a dynamic approach to digital business that requires speed and flexibility to create the most value.” (McKinsey)
“Information, and its effective use, has become a strategic asset and a competitive advantage to the digital businesses best able to exploit it.” (Gartner)
“… marketing is headed toward being on demand—not just always “on,” but also always relevant, responsive to the consumer’s desire for marketing that cuts through the noise with pinpoint delivery.”
“Staying ahead of the design, data, and delivery requirements of on-demand customers is much more than a marketing issue—it will be a crucial basis for future competitive advantage.” (McKinsey)
“Digital engagement requires a commitment to content as a discipline, backed by a technical and operational backbone. Content is still isolated or tied to specific business units or geographies when it should be anchored to a customer or product. Even the fundamentals need attention. Many companies lack processes and systems to understand the real costs of their activities …” (Deloitte)
“Without a centralized, strategic alignment to why and how content is being produced and the resource allocation for that production, … efforts are unaligned with goals and appear scattershot. A scalable and systematic approach to content strategy and content marketing has become a must-have, not a nice-to-have.” (Altimeter Group)
“The Industrial Revolution … marked a global transition to new manufacturing processes and long-term economic growth. Efficiency dramatically increased as factories moved from hand production to machinery-driven processes. Given recent changes to b-to-b buying behavior and greater requirements for content to support inbound marketing, nurturing and multi-touch demand creation, b-to-b organizations must prepare for a similar revolution in their content strategies.” (SiriusDecisions)
Your Go-to-market Goals, Strategies and Plans
Organization’s that believe “the way you sell” is the best way to …
- Find and be found by online, information-empowered prospects
- Differentiate and create value for prospective as well as existing customers
- Improve sales and marketing performance and lower selling costs
- Deliver an exceptional customer experience that begins before buyers become customers
… are dependent on well-performing content to succeed with this strategy.
Content Criteria and Challenges
The traditional content production process was infamous for the adage:
“You can have it Good, Fast, or Cheap … pick any two!”
Consider today’s content criteria (video 2:40). Note the perennial challenges reported by the Content Marketing Institute.
How will you optimize ALL criteria?
Which of these content criteria are you willing to compromise?
What risk will this add to your functional and business outcomes?
It’s time to recognize your content challenges are rooted in operational issues.
Consider additional operational requirements these content criteria and challenges create.
You Are in the Publishing Business
More content creation, management and accountability has moved in-house. The days of outsourcing all content to agencies and production companies are over for organizations that embrace the strategy we’re discussing.
Indeed, everyone has become a journalist (if not a publisher). The number of people involved in content production who require support is exploding.
People support is required for your subject experts and other sources of insightful inputs (customers, third party experts). Internal and external creators (companies as well as individuals) share similar but also different support requirements. And content users who must find, access, deliver, and even create content to perform their job, need support.
By way of example, here are just a few of many other important operational requirements that have gained prominence in the digital era:
- Create content as modules (components) that can be easily edited, re-configured and re-packaged into new work products
- Manage content as digital assets (DAM), finished content (portals), curated content,
- Maintain, update and refresh content to extend useful life
- Deliver and promote content through syndication, social and direct selling activities
- Integrate and coordinate disparate production efforts and work products
- Infrastructure, tools and technologies
- Acquire, aggregate and report audience data — enable predictive analytics
- Governance and Change Management: digital mindset, strategy, people (skills), process, procedures, techniques, tools, infrastructure.
Relevance and Formats Lead to Scale
If you want to be successful blogging for inbound leads, what must you do?
Blog regularly, more than three times per week, with insights about topics that interest your target audiences.
Content quality vs quantity is a facetious debate.
Quality is table stakes in this game. But to win with content marketing, you need relevant, insightful content, in formats your audiences prefer and your distribution channels demand.
Each communication must accommodate several relevance factors such as:
- Audience segments and individual function or persona your communications are addressing
- Business problems of each viewer
- Communication purpose: attention, education, briefing, training, etc.
- Buying stage
- Industry vertical
- Competitive context, and others.
Relevance and formats lead inevitably to scale. To be serious and successful with content marketing you must resolve the dilemma of scaling your content production.
Business Level Content Operations
Business strategies and drivers, including new content criteria and operational challenges, indicate the need for different thinking, and a different process for content.
As a result of 20 years creating content for B2B marketing, selling and training organizations, we have discovered a new reality: