Overwhelmed by content marketing? What you need is a strategy

I had dinner with a friend last night for his birthday, and he joked that because he was born at 11 p.m. the night the clocks rolled back for daylight saving, his first day on Earth lasted 25 hours—and he’s been trying to make each day last that long ever since.

One of the distinguishing factors of a well-run business is time management. Every hour of the day counts, and every hour wasted on inefficient content marketing is an overcommitment of resources. When it comes to lean content creation, as I wrote last year, the economies of scale are maximized when each piece of content fits into a predetermined strategy.

A recent survey highlights the challenge. While 93 percent of B2B marketers reported using content marketing, only 42 percent feel they are effective—up from last year’s 36 percent, but still leaving more than half of content marketers short of their goals. The effectiveness goes up if the company has a documented content strategy, appoints someone to oversee it, and utilizes more tactics and social media platforms.

But the thing that struck me was the average usage of the top 13 content marketing tactics—13 tactics! Looking at the chart on page 9 of the report (see link at the bottom of this post), it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The tactics range from website articles to white papers to infographics to case studies to videos and on and on; it’s no wonder that companies without a documented content strategy feel it’s a daunting task to produce engaging content. There’s so much to do, and not enough time in the day.

But that’s where lean content creation comes in. If you understand how to develop your source material from the outset, you can tailor it as needed to all these different channels with an incremental effort. For example, if a white paper is developed correctly, it already has case studies, charts, and infographics; it can be easily converted into a webinar, a blog post, or a video script. Tools such as social media and e-newsletters, when used properly, are aggregators of content for what you’re already developing for other platforms.

An effective documented content strategy identifies the audiences you want to reach and with what tactics. Companies should never invest any time or resources in developing content until they can answer these questions. Since content is a key component of brand management and reputation building, the strategy must support and be aligned with the sales and marketing functions.

With a well-designed strategy in place, you won’t need 25 hours in the day to produce content to support all relevant tactics.

Click here to read the full fourth annual B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, sponsored by Brightcove.

Scott Leff

Scott is the founder of LEFF. He’s spent his career helping executives and subject matter experts tell their story in a compelling way. In the process, he’s had the opportunity to work with C-suite executives, politicians, academics, and Olympians, not to mention dozens of talented writers, editors, and designers in the business world. Scott developed the concept of “lean content creation” as a cost-effective way to support comprehensive, integrated communication strategies.

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