B2B content marketing can very well be an expensive venture; this perception perpetuated by content marketing megastars like RedBull, who have massive marketing budgets and tons of resources. However, rolling in the dough is not an essential trait for a company or marketer looking to set up an excellent content marketing plan. If you are working with a small budget but still want rock star results, follow the steps below to build a lean and mean content marketing machine that drives real results without damaging your bottom line.
Bonus!: Don’t neglect your pre-campaign audience research. Download our free guide, The Pre-Targeting Advantage, and learn the best ways to reach your key audience.
Develop a B2B Content Strategy
Perform an Audit
Take a good hard look at what content you have already created or distributed in the past—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Where do you stand? Being realistic about your starting point is essentially to building a solid foundation for your new content marketing strategy, and is also important for documenting past successes (to model new content after) and failures (to ensure you don’t repeat the same mistakes). Dig around all old social media account, sub-sites, blogs, etc. and consolidate all that content into a spreadsheet or folder, noting what content was successful and what wasn’t.
Create Content Marketing Roles
Designate a team to handle content management. This can mean several things depending on how you organize your marketing strategy, but at the very least be sure that a handful of people are responsible for the task of generating, finalizing, and scheduling content. When not properly defined, content creation as a task has a way of slipping off the plates of busy employees or becoming confused by a “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation. By clearing defining content management as a role and establishing the owners of that role you establish accountability, helping to keep the entire process streamlined and efficient.
Know Your Audience
Make sure you take the time to do a realistic assessment of your audience. Generate target audience profiles and try to separate your audience into categories and subsets as much as possible based on preferences. This exercise is time consuming but it will help you tailor your content to each subset later on down the road, which in turn will help drive better results.
Formulate a Mission and Set Strategic Goals
I am sure you already have a mission statement for your business, but a good marketing scheme has both a mission and strategic goals that align with that mission (under the umbrella of the company’s mission). Your mission for your marketing strategy can be anything, but should have something in there about guiding potential customers to taking action. Also, always make sure that your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relative, Time-specific.
Because B2B content marketing results can be abstract, carefully choosing which metrics to monitor is crucial to ensuring that you’re effectively gauging your strategy’s success. Some common metrics for monitoring content marketing include conversion rates, social sharing statistics, and site visits and clicks.
Another important reason to decide on a mission and set strategic goals is that it will help guide what type of content you develop and what topics you choose to cover.
Develop a Content Calendar
Pull together your user profiles, your past successful content, competitors’ successful content, your mission statement, and any other information that you learned during your audit and sit down to determine some content ideas. Once you have a hefty stable of content ideas, use a calendar to map out how and when you want the content to be distributed. This will give you an overview of your content and will help to highlight any gaps or overlaps.
A content calendar is an effective and inexpensive tool that helps to keep everyone on the same page while also allowing you to assess your processes from a strategic perspective, taking into account key company dates, holidays, etc.
Instigating a good content marketing strategy is a big commitment of both time to the effort, especially if your budget is small. All effective content strategies take time to develop, and you should take this into account when working on your plan. To keep from being overwhelmed, set milestones that you think you can achieve and set parameters to help you monitor those milestones. Keep in mind that these can (and probably should) be flexible to allow for changes in your process as it matures. This will help to keep you and your team on track without setting unrealistic expectations.
Create Compelling, Useful Content
Recycling content is an awesome way to stretch content marketing budget dollars. Content that is the best for repurposing is generally long-form, evergreen content that is not particularly time-sensitive and has several subheads or subthemes that can be flushed out into separate pieces. You can use data from a report to create an exciting new infographic, or take a sub-topic from a recent whitepaper and use it as the basis for a podcast interview with an expert. There are a million ways to use this type of content, so get creative!
Leverage Your Employees Expertise
Need more content generators but can’t afford to hire any new personnel? Use your employees’ expertise to your advantage and get them to contribute content. These individuals may not be great writers (although maybe they are), but if they can offer content with expert insight then it is already valuable content—it can be polished by the team writer/editor before it is distributed. This approach also has the added benefit of getting everyone on your staff involved in the content marketing process and working together rather than in silos, which is generally good for team morale and workplace satisfaction.
Audit Content Frequency Needs
A good way to save money is to make sure you are not overdoing it for your business needs. One of the great things about content marketing is that it is customizable and can be scaled appropriately based on what your audience wants. You may think that you need to post to your blog every day, but if your audience is only interested in reading a few articles a week you are wasting a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere. Quantity is not the goal for a successful lean content marketing strategy—quality is.
Free Guide: The Pre-Targeting Advantage is a free tool to help you understand pre-targeting and other tips and tricks for effective audience targeting.