Although many businesses recognise the advantages of a content marketing process they find it difficult to know where to start. Bitter experience shows it is all too easy to in and waste time and effort before finally establishing a way forward that delivers consistent results. What follows are some suggestions, which if followed, should at least eliminate some early mistakes and save time and trouble.
One important point to note is any inbound marketing process will take time to deliver. Various research papers show that once established a content marketing process delivers a consistent supply of high quality sales leads, but it does takes time.
There are a few key points to remember when first starting out, they are:
- Produce content that is of value to your target market.
- Start small and be focussed.
- Be Consistent.
- Measure / Adapt / Improve.
Content marketing sometimes requires a complete change of mindset. It is not about pushing out promotional messages but about delivering information that is of genuine use to customers and prospects and giving it away for free. Most of the time the content will not even mention what your business may supply, its selling points or even the business name.
To avoid an immense amount of time and trouble a detailed plan is required before starting out. Without a plan you will often find yourself going back to what you have already created, making changes then starting again. A plan should define:
- What you would like to achieve (more leads?) and in what timescales.
- Your target customer – focus.
- What information is of use to them at what stage in the sales cycle?
- How you are going to reach prospects and give your content the best chance to be read.
- What content already exists and how to produce new content.
- A detailed schedule of events.
To avoid the process becoming too cumbersome and time consuming in the early stages it is important to start out by focussing on a well defined but small target market segment and targeting all resources on that segment. Of course, this will limit the initial returns but it will deliver useful experience upon which a more extensive process may be built and developed.
Generally the marketing department will be responsible for developing any inbound marketing processes but it is essential to reach out to those with an intimate relationship with customers and their needs (the sales department) when trying to establish what information should be delivered to support the sales cycle and what channels should be used to deliver that information.
Various reports show that the biggest challenges faced by content marketers in B2B markets are producing enough content, producing the type of content that engages and defining the most appropriate delivery channels. Generating new content in the marketing department is important but it is not sufficient on its own and it is resource intensive.
It is important to capitalise on all existing information resources in a business, to filter this information to determine what may be useful to the target audience and to re-write or adapt it to use in the marketing process. The responsibility for creating new content should not fall to only the marketing department but should be distributed throughout the business and allocated to those with a useful view on markets and trends, technology, quality and reliability or product and service issues.
With content resources and channels identified it is then essential to deliver to the target prospect base on an ongoing, consistent basis. A start / stop approach, or worse a content marketing process that runs for a few months only then stops will not deliver results and can be a significant waste of valuable resources.
The final step in any content marketing process should be to measure the results of each activity and its impact on the desired result and to adapt, change and improve the process over time. As with any business process without measurement there can be no control.