Marketing content has become the fuel for modern marketing systems. The quality of marketing content impacts the ability of marketers to drive top line growth with digital, social, native advertising, and mobile channels. And salespeople need insightful content to help open doors, start meaningful conversations, and sell value. These facts have led to bigger content marketing budgets, more writers creating content assets, and a proliferation of agencies specializing in content.
But despite its value and importance, marketing content is generally mismanaged by most organizations. Several signs indicate that 2015 will be a year that changes. The predictions of several marketing experts suggest that the challenge of managing the cost, complexity and effectiveness of all this marketing content has become a significant “pain point” for senior marketing executives. The writing on the wall suggests it is time for marketers to get serious about managing the quality, distribution, and impact of their marketing content investment.
- Digital marketing expert Daniel Newman predicts the volume of content production will grow to the point of saturation in the coming year;
- Content marketing expert Doug Kessler forecasts this will result in a deluge of low quality content that will create clutter and erode the effectiveness of native advertising, SEO, social media, and marketing automation programs essential to growth;
- Kathy Baughman of the Brand Publishing Institute points out that salespeople are not using the majority of the content that marketing creates because it’s hard to find or not designed to support actual sales conversations;
- And a survey by the Richardson sales consultancy reveals most sales managers don’t believe the content created for them by marketing either motivates customers to buy, drives cross selling, or challenges the customer mindset.
Marketing executives need to focus on three points of leverage if they want to drive more measurable growth outcomes from their content investment: content quality, go-to-market alignment, and distribution effectiveness.
The bar on content quality is rising. As buyers experience content saturation and information overload, the notion of establishing thought leadership has emerged as a top priority with sales and marketing as the best way to differentiate their brands and ensure marketing effectiveness. Marketing executives are learning that subject matter expertise and a strong point of view are now essential to success in the digital, social, and mobile channels that buyers use to during the majority of the buying process. Sales executives realize original research and compelling insights make it easier to open doors, start quality customer conversations, generate referrals, cross sell, and influence buyer perceptions of value. An ounce of thought leadership is worth ten pounds of “me too” content when it comes to improving marketing effectiveness, differentiating your brand, and giving customers the relevant insights they are seeking.
Content distribution drives value. In his 2015 content trend forecast, online marketer Jason Demers astutely points out thatthe real value from content marketing comes from distribution. Like a race car – a big engine matters less than how much of the power it generates makes it to the wheel. “The ability to effectively communicate an idea to your customers using your sales, marketing and media channels is just an important as the idea itself”, according to Grant Butler, author of the book Think, Write, Grow . Marketing executives are slowly learning that content marketing is more than a tactic for social and earned media channels. The most sophisticated marketers in the consulting, technology, and financial services industry have realized that the publishing process has become the backbone of their go to market strategy. These marketing leaders are distinguishing themselves with channel strategies that amplify the impact of their thought leadership content in their sales, marketing, and media channels and support every step of the go-to-market process. That means the key to improving marketing effectiveness is finding better ways to leverage your content investment across a wider variety of channels – including: marketing automation, sales enablement, CRM, social selling, digital marketing, and blogs.
Content strategy drives measurable sales outcomes. Over the past several years content marketers have claimed ownership over two thirds of the buyers journey and as a byproduct, a larger share of the marketing budget. Now they will need to start to take accountability for the results their investment in content is yielding. Unfortunately, most marketers do not have a strategy to direct that investment, a plan for how it will generate top line growth, or measures that ensure meaningful sales outcomes are achieved. The Forbes research report explains the best way to ensure your content investment will drive measurable sales outcomes is to create a strategic foundation for your program that:
- Directly supports your sales and marketing processes;
- Aligns with your communications, branding and product sales goals;
- Drives the right sales outcomes;
It is time for content marketing to mature from a social media tactic to a formal go-to-market discipline. Marketers that take a more programmatic approach to delivering new ideas, relevant advice and compelling solutions to customers using a mix of sales, marketing and media channels will generate significantly more growth from their content investment.