Content is the soul of a marketing program. Done well, it can build community, establish credibility, generate awareness, amplify thought leadership, solve problems through how-tos and even pull prospects into the funnel.
But it takes some serious skill, intention and strategy to make content whir. Our Vice President of Content Strategy, Stacy Warden, knows this first-hand. I recently sat down with Stacy to pick her brain on the common struggles and mistakes companies make when it comes to content creation, and the top strategies to keep in mind for those who may be rethinking their content plans in 2022. Here are the highlights from our discussion:
Stacy: Content will always be the cornerstone of any successful business because it’s how we tell and share stories. A strong content program increases visibility, attracts new prospects, keeps audiences engaged, and fosters customer trust.
Stacy: Organizations struggle with content when they get hung up on the wrong things. There’s often a misconception that content is simply about churning out new pieces (blogs, bylines, podcasts, etc.) in order to remain fresh and relevant. But new and original content is only one piece of the puzzle. One common barrier I’ve witnessed repeatedly is business leaders publishing new content just for the sake of it, and then getting frustrated/confused when it doesn’t take off. Successful content is anchored in strategy, tied to key business goals, and can be measured.
Stacy: Not having a documented content strategy in place. Sometimes you need to slow down in order to speed up, but this scares business leaders because content ROI isn’t often immediate. It can, however, be measured by many of the same metrics as traditional marketing such as brand awareness, retention, lead generation, and revenue. Organizations should take time to assess their current content program and ask questions like:
Stacy: Currently, I have a newsletter subscription addiction. Newsletters are a prime example of a simple, yet effective way companies can leverage their best content without having to reinvent the wheel — and it takes the lift off the reader because it’s delivered directly to their door. I also love magazine-style blogs for their visual appeal and user-friendly navigation. Github is a great example of this; even if the subject matter isn’t in your wheelhouse, it’s hard not to be drawn in by the clean and engaging aesthetic.
Stacy: An effective piece of content has reach — meaning that your audience sees the piece without actively searching for it. This visibility is based on vital content marketing practices including channel strategy, SEO, and journey mapping. Once we know the content will have visibility, the next thing is to ensure that it’s engaging. Do the tone and voice resonate with the audience? Is it telling a story? Is it actionable or useful? These are all questions that should be top of mind when creating any type of content.
Stacy: That content is simply putting words on a page. When business leaders look at content as nothing more than writing, it creates a stagnant environment for the team members who are doing the hard work of strategizing, developing, directing, and measuring the company’s content initiatives. Writing is a crucial component of any successful content program, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Before you put pen to paper, there’s a great deal of planning that should happen first. Once the writing is complete, additional efforts come into play.
Stacy: With more Millennials taking over management roles, the B2B buyer landscape is changing dramatically. We see more B2B decision makers actively resisting conversations with sales reps and instead approaching the buyer’s journey in the same way they would for a personal purchase. Peer reviews, community forums, and customer advocacy on social media have never been more pivotal in the B2B content channel strategy. These types of word of mouth marketing have long played a crucial role in B2C, and B2B should take a page from this playbook as customer expectations continue to shift.
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