There is little doubt that content marketing is here to stay. Like a perfect storm, the influences of users seeking out specific content to match their need and search engine algorithms being tuned to reward quality content, have combined to ensure content marketing is a force to be reckoned with in the Business to Business marketplace.
With high value content being core to the success of any sustained content marketing effort, it is important to look at what makes for high value content and sources organization can rely on to evolve to meet the challenges of on-going content production.
The first answer is easy. High value content is content that the target readers will find valuable to help them do their job faster or easier. Generally, this is content that cannot be found in other media sources so that the reader is most likely to end up reading your material over someone else’s. What does this mean to you? When you are planning your content strategy, consider developing more material about the implementation of a solution, about comparing different solutions, about ways to avoid or overcome challenges and providing real world case studies. Think much less about news, announcements, or inward focused pieces where readers can already find this material in a host of industry publications and in your existing press releases. Great content is about being unique, opinionated, and offering expert opinion – things that are difficult, if not impossible to find in traditional media.
With a sound content strategy in place, it is now important to think about how you plan to develop an ongoing flow of content. Anyone can create their first post and then go back to their day job. Content marketing is about creating a new type of connection with a community and it is about developing and delivering content on a consistent basis. In my experience, there are three places where corporations turn for help with their content development – each with their pro’s and con’s:
1) Internal Resources – Most companies start here with the hope that every relevant employee can spend a few extra moments a day providing valuable content. On the positive side of things, these employees are already in place and know their products well. What organizers of content marketing strategies tend to forget is that these employees have day jobs and the idea of spending time writing is less than appealing. If you go this route, be prepared to offer employees training (why you are using content marketing, which topics to choose, optimal story length, how materials will be approved, how to share content, etc) before setting them loose. Critical to working with an internal team is to emphasize that they are writing to attract and educate prospects and customers. You must make it clear to them that this is not about release dates, specifications, or features. To help reward participation, it is also a great idea to set up a unique employee incentives program for those that provide the best support.
2) Publishers and PR Firms – while these two groups have unique pluses and minuses, I think it is important to consider them together because they both represent the old guard. These are the outside firms that are generally considered first by most content marketing managers because they have been places where a lot of content has been created in the past. Publishers tend to have a large cache of existing content and PR firms tend to work with companies to develop lots of press releases. The challenge here is that content marketing hinges on high value content that readers cannot find anywhere else. Both publishers and PR firms are used to speaking to companies to get their information and the information that is most shared with them tends to be release dates and feature sets. This does not make for compelling content and even if it did, it would already be published in hundreds of different media outlets. Now there are some publishers, especially in the consumer space that have recognized that a different business model is required to service the needs of content marketers and know that it is necessary to rebuild their organization from the ground up. You can read about their approach in the story “Why Sponsored Content is Here to Stay” (http://www.digiday.com/publishers/why-sponsored-contents-here-to-stay/). Most Publishers and PR firms are stuck serving an antiquated model of pitching product stories and covering the same information that is available elsewhere, and due to a rapidly changing media consumption model, have been left with a thin editorial staff that are trying their best to maintain their old ways of producing content.
3) Content Marketing Firm – From the ashes of the old media model has arisen a new breed of marketing support designed specifically to help companies attract, educate, and engage a community of existing and potential users of your products. These companies are (or need to be) as savvy in content development as they are in social media and Search Engine Optimization. They know how to capture readers’ attention with stories that are optimized to perform in Google and other search engines, to pull the reader to your material with keywords that invoke the reader and then payoff the experience with the high value content that readers so desire. Like any outside group, one has to consider the cost associated with creating custom content on an ongoing basis, but companies like MediaSolve Group are not afraid to work with our clients to find a balance between optimizing the amount of content produced and budget that is available.
Content marketing, when properly integrated with your existing marketing initiatives, is a powerful addition to any marketing mix. The success of your initiative is greatly tied to the type of content you produce and the frequency of the release of this material. As you consider a Content Marketing program, think first of the content that your organization can unique offer readers and then choose your development resources carefully. When your content strategy is matched with the proper development strategy, you will have done everything in your power to ensure your program’s success.