According to Marketing Prof’s 2013 report on B2B Content Marketing, 91% of B2B companies are employing content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy.
This statistic is staggering. I’ve been a strong proponent of content marketing since the early 2000’s (long before the term “content marketing” was popular). Initially, branding and getting the company name out there consistently was the objective. Over the last number of years, content marketing has proven to be a very successful strategy for targeted, online lead generation. It is amazing how content marketing has absolutely exploded over the last few years, to the extent that it is an integral part of most corporate marketing plans (33% of marketing budgets according to Marketing Profs).
Two blogs published in the last few weeks caught my attention. One was published on boston.com and was written by Pawan Deshpande, CEO of a curation software company called Curata. The article summarizes the 6 methods businesses can employ to manage and sustain their content marketing efforts and describes the pros and cons of each very well.
One of the biggest issues companies have with content marketing is the time and resource commitment. Without investment in additional resources, either people and/or software, it is extremely difficult to maintain a consistent publication frequency. I can definitely relate. Take my own blog for example. When I get too busy in my business, unfortunately the blog goes on the back-burner. And I plan and manage content marketing programs for a living! Imagine those small- and medium-sized businesses that are really lacking in both the resources and the know-how to maintain an ongoing content marketing strategy. How do they stand a chance at success? Pawan’s article does a good job of presenting the options.
Not within the scope of his article is the importance of planning your content marketing strategy prior to jumping in, based on researching and defining your target audience content preferences. How to implement your content strategy is a very important part of the plan, but it is still only part. To address this need, I wrote a series of how-to posts on the topic of business blog planning, which I curated conveniently into an e-book that can be downloaded here.
Content marketing solutions have become an increasingly active area for investors, obviously because so many companies are having difficulty maintaining their programs. Automating the process as much as possible is an option. Venture capitalists are investing in various software solutions for curating, publishing and automating the distribution of content.
Check out this analysis of the key investment categories for content marketing solutions, written by by Nick Gregg, CEO of Strategy Eye. It gives a very good feel for where content marketing is headed based on the types of start-ups VC’s are funding. In his post, Pawan notes that content curation cannot be completely automated and needs human involvement, but that software solutions cut down management time significantly.
The bottom line: Properly planned and consistently executed content marketing strategies have demonstrated positive results. B2B companies of all sizes and types are having great difficulty implementing and maintaining them. Realistically, if an organization is serious about content marketing, investment in human and/or software resources is an absolute necessity. More robust tools are entering the marketplace on a constant basis. The key message: Assess your resources realistically and don’t try to do it yourself if you can’t maintain it consistently.