On April 13, Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing sat down with the Minneapolis CMO Club chapter for a dinner roundtable on how to best differentiate your content marketing strategy.

The roundtable discussion covered a number of topics and content-related challenges currently faced by B2C and B2B CMOs. Key Takeaways from that discussion are below but first, consider these content marketing statistics:

Content Overload:

  • 90% of the world’s data has been created in the past 2 years (IBM)
  • Consumers in the U.S. are presented with an average of 63GB of media per day (USC/ICTM)

Investments in content marketing continue – but there are challenges:

  • Over 90% of marketers are using content marketing (CMI / MarketingProfs)
  • Only 42% of content marketers believe they are effective with it. (CMI / MarketingProfs)
  • Only 44% of B2B Marketers have a documented content strategy. (CMI / MarketingProfs)

While competition is high, so is the opportunity:

  • 85% of consumers seek out trusted expert content when considering a purchase (Nielsen/InPowered)
  • 87% of B2B buyers say content has an impact on vendor selection (Social Media Today)

Here are some of the content marketing questions/challenges that were raised by our Minneapolis CMOs during the discussion and Lee’s proposed solutions:

Challenge #1: A shift from a product-focused approach to horizontal has resulted in an unmanageable matrix. Content creation for each customer segment across industries and buying cycles is not sustainable. How can you create meaningful content for the right audience in that situation?

Proposed Solution: As an alternative to an ultra segmented and matrixed approach, develop a content marketing plan that emphasizes behaviors over demographics.

Understand the key questions buyers have at early, middle and late stages, focus on how buyers discover solution content (search, social, subscriptions, events, influencers), their preferences for content consumption (long vs. short form, video, graphic, mobile, desktop, story vs. how to) and the triggers for action to inspire next steps (share, subscribe, register, download, inquire, transact).

In particular, search demand data from topics and keywords can help shortcut the topics for content creation and the key questions that are answered by brand content.

Challenge #2: A challenge common to major brands with dominant position in the market is the lack of visibility of lesser known product and service areas. For example, 3M is more than Post It Notes and sandpaper. Also, what are there opportunities to better measure content performance and systems to manage content across the organization?

Proposed Solution: Content Marketing management platforms like Kapost, NewsCred, or Percolate can be effective for enterprise content management and measurement.

Creative content that answers buyer questions from both brand subject-matter experts as well as influencers in the target industry can accelerate exposure for lesser known brands to new communities and audiences in a credible way.

Challenge #3: Content is abundant, but how do we ensure consistency across the organization from marketing to front line employees? How can we model content creation and distribution to reach the right influencers and customers at the right time and place?

Proposed Solution: Brand messaging and values are an essential part of content marketing strategy. Communicating that narrative and brand vision across content assets from marketing to public relations to customer service and front line employee training requires executive support and organizational consensus.

Content in this sense, must be meaningful for customers as well as the employees that are to be guided by it.  Ideal customer targeting starts and succeeds with data collection.

Implement processes that enable ideal customer identification and behavior profiling and ensure that data makes its way to those responsible for content strategy AND the means to measure content performance.

Challenge #4: How can marketers attract and keep the attention of an increasingly distracted audience? How can you differentiate to provide engaging, relevant and effective content?

Proposed Solution: 

#1: Create buyer-centric content for each stage of the solution seeking experience: discovery, consumption, and action. Think about:

  • How do your customers discover solutions? Do they use search, social, subscriptions, events or influencers?
  • What are your customer preferences for content consumption: visual, audio, text, interactive, long form or short form?
  • What offers compel them to action? Share, subscribe, refer, transact, advocate

#2: Connect with influencers to co-create and promote brand content

  • Identify influencers with active communities – action is influence, not popularity
  • Co-create content with influencers for mutual goals – promote to their audiences
  • Help people become influential through community content co-creation (user-generated content)

#3: Make content marketing investments efficient with modular content and repurposing

  • Create content plans with matrix topics by segment, buying stage
  • Use micro-content (tips, stats, quotes) for social media, then compile into blog posts, eBooks, newsletters, presentations
  • Break large content down into micro-content and repurpose: eBook to blog posts, Videos to images, Blog posts to presentations

#4. Keep content accountable with an Attract, Engage, and Convert model

  • Ensure all content assets are accountable for some level of performance
  • Attract – top of funnel discovery, search, social, referrals
  • Engage – content consumption and customer experience, social shares, conversations
  • Convert – buyer data captured through forms – registrations, subscriptions, transactions

For more content marketing insights visit Lee Odden’s blog.