In an earlier blog, Feed the Machine: Why Marketing Automation Success Relies on Content Quality, I talked about the importance of generating quality content to power your marketing automation programs. It boils down to this:

All modern marketing is content marketing. Full stop.

B2B Buyers Want and Need to Make Informed Decisions

The profitability of their company and/or the rosiness of their career prospects may depend on them making the right choice. Brands that take the time to develop and share content that informs and educates their prospects find that they become trusted partners as opposed to merely vendors.

Yet every day we see marketers who are daunted by the task of creating high-quality content. They’d rather leave their pipeline in radio silence than write a blog post or whitepaper. I call this irrational fear Contentaphobia — the fear of content development.

We know not everyone enjoys writing (I don’t enjoy trigonometry, myself), but there are lots of ways to develop good content without going through torture.

What’s on Tap?

Most organizations have a roster of events they’re attending or hosting, and yours is likely no different. You can start your content plan by plotting those event dates on the calendar, along with any pre-event promotions you need, during-event activities you can push out in real time, and then your post-event follow up.

Look at that! At least one blog post and three emails for each event means a lot of your content calendar is already filled in. And remember, most of the time your events are filled with content too! You can adapt those presentations and demos to share with your prospects who couldn’t make the show.

What’s Your Theme?

Coming up with topics can be one of the biggest bottlenecks when it comes to content development.

Aside from your events calendar, we recommend thinking about your customers’ pain points and focusing on each them in turn as one big-picture theme per quarter.

If your prospects are challenged with time to market, for example, and there are three ways your product helps them accelerate that time, why not write a blog on each of the three ways? There’s your quarter wrapped up with a bow.

Just remember: whatever topics you plot into your calendar, make sure they are relevant and provide value to your customers, prospects, followers and influencers.

Thought Leadership Adds Value

It’s not enough to say something is happening. More important to your audience is what your brand thinks about it, or what you plan to do as a result.

Let’s take the example of regulatory changes. It’s one thing to say they’re coming. Hopefully your audience already knew that. Why not explain how it will impact business? How your organization plans to adapt?

The best? How your organization can help its customers adapt. That’s valuable. Just keep the hard-sell out of it.

Thought leadership builds relationships and trust. It assists in acquisition and retention. Yes, it takes more effort (and carries a touch more risk if your brand takes a strong position on a contentious issue), but it is one of the most worthwhile marketing approaches for any considered-purchase segment.

Format for Effectiveness

For some reason, many organizations (including some agencies) still equate “content marketing” to “blogging.” Don’t get me wrong – a good blog is a fantastic asset. But if you want to get more engagement, you need to mix up your formats.

  • Case studies
  • Testimonials
  • Whitepapers
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Infographics
  • Live events

Note that these are formats, not delivery channels. All of these formats can be delivered and/or supported in a myriad of ways. So how do you pick the right format?

A lot will depend on your available resources – both budgetary and person-power. Your organization may not have the financial means to send professional videographers out to the field, or the human resources capabilities to plan and stage a live event. In some cases, the work we do and the clients who engage us are too sensitive to make case studies or testimonials feasible.

But I’m willing to bet that your sales team has some pretty good presentations kicking around that could be converted into on-demand webinars with almost zero effort. Scribe or whiteboard videos are cheap and relatively easy to make.

Know the Buying Cycle

If we understand our customers’ buying cycle and what they need to know at each stage of the process, we can align content accordingly.

Yes, we need content that will garner Twitter followers and Facebook likes, but that’s not the main marketing function according to our business objectives, is it?

A lot of true content marketing takes place in the middle of the funnel, during the lead nurture phase. Prospects have given us permission to talk to them in the form of content – let’s make it count.

From more in-depth webinars to how-to-guides and case studies, to fun stuff like interactive feature comparison tools and cost calculators, nurturing content is typically “evergreen” in that it is created once and used in almost every campaign. The goal is to help the prospect move from research to consideration to ready-to-buy.

I Still Get the Heebiejeebies Just Thinking About Putting Pen to Paper

I know. Content creation isn’t for everyone. Like I said earlier, I prefer to leave complicated mathematics to the experts.

If you still feel like you have a case of Contentaphobia, you can relax. You know your product, and you know your customers. We can use that knowledge to put together your content plan, and help you with the resources to make it come to life.

Take the first step toward a life free from fear and contact us today.