A review of research on B2B content marketing over the last five years shows that the same problems persist—problems that continue to limit B2B marketing effectiveness. One of the biggest challenges? Content creation. Consistently producing engaging, high-quality content that contributes to marketing effectiveness has ranked as the top B2B content marketing pain point year over year.
While time, skill sets, and resources play a role, additional issues with content creation also include:
- Many marketers are not native writers
- Advertising copy is not marketing content
- Marketers don’t really know their audiences and what they care about
- Flipping from product and company to buyer and customer is easier said than done
- Content marketing strategy is lacking
- Content development processes and workflows are not formalized
And, yet, as we diligently work to correct these issues, marketing content must still be produced. Programs must be executed, leads generated and nurtured, and salespeople enabled to close more deals.
So, how do you improve content creation to have it contribute to higher marketing performance while we’re in the midst of transition?
3 Ways to Hack Content Creation
You know attention spans are growing ever shorter and multi-tasking across devices and channels is the new normal. For your content to standout, it needs to catch your audience’s attention, keep it with an emotional hook, and effectively transfer information relevant to the reader that they don’t already know.
This can be a tall order. Yet, it’s actually a key to hacking content creation.
Related: In the Minds of Marketers: A Trends Report on B2B Marketing Content
Take a Circular Approach
Content structure, itself, is fairly simple. What you start with dictates how you end.
- Introduction: Get to the point fast and set the premise anchored around why your reader should care. A streamlined and powerful introduction will catch attention and provide the emotional hook. In B2B, this is often represented by fear of missing out (FOMO) or getting something you thought was beyond reach (Reward).
- Body copy: Provide supporting detail for your premise. Think in groups of 3 – it’s what humans tend to remember best, as you can see in these phrases – crawl, walk, run; morning, noon, night; beginning, middle, end. You can use 5, 7, or more supporting ideas, but your readers will pick the three that resonate most to remember, so why not minimize your effort. Just remember to make the three things very strong in relation to what your audience cares about. If you’re writing longer content, such as a white paper, use 3 sections with 3 ideas in each of them. You see where this is going. Patterns also help readers orient and set expectations. Use them to your advantage.
- Conclusion: The conclusion should always restate your premise – although with a new variation from the premise. Ideas must be repeated to take hold, but straight repetition can be tedious. The conclusion should always leave readers with the takeaway you want them to remember—and that’s the premise you stated in the beginning of the piece.
Repurposing Content Is a Great Approach that’s Underused
Idea 1: Plan to repurpose content from the start
Taking the example above, when planning your body content, take each of those supporting ideas and turn it into a premise. Then apply the same structure to create 3 additional pieces related to and in support of your main premise.
Then consider the opportunity to present the content in additional formats, such as a SlideShare, infographic or video. Also consider if there’s an opportunity to roll all these pieces together into a long-form piece such as a white paper or report.
If you plan for repurposing from the start, all of the research can be done at once and the writing is much easier because the writer is immersed in the topic. This technique reduces the time it takes to create a content hub around a problem-to-solution journey—which is also one of the challenges B2B marketers have with content. But, this level of planning will also help to ensure that the content you create is of a quality that will resonate, rather than just resulting in a quantity of content that may go unused.
Related: The Definition of a Content Pillar
Idea 2: Pivot from Existing Content
Most companies have pretty healthy content inventories. Often, that content has been published once and left to languish. For some reason, marketers put more stock in creating something new over pivoting from something that already exists. We’re familiar with it so we move on, but chances are that content has a lot more life left to give.
Review the content you have and identify your top performing assets. Identify pivots from the original idea to create new takes on it.
A few approaches to help you pivot:
- What’s changed in relation to the content’s premise in the industry or for the intended audience?
- After reviewing the content, step into your persona’s shoes and ask what he would want to know next. Then, write a follow-up piece that links back to the original content.
- Would a customer use case better demonstrate the premise? Go interview a customer. Don’t let red tape stop you. A use case without using the customer’s name can be a very effective story as long as you set context, so your audience can still relate.
- If the content that’s performed the best is related, can you roll it up into a bigger piece? And, if you’re thinking—but they’ve read it already—just stop. It’s unlikely that people remember, and even if they do vaguely recall it, the repetition is useful for helping ideas stick.
- Assess the content for opportunities to present it in a different format.
- Think about what might have been left out of the first piece that will allow you to revise, update, and make it even better.
Related: A Real Life Example of a Content Pillar
Idea 3: Spin the same content for different audiences
There are times when different personas need the same information but for different reasons. This is especially true at later stages in the buying process when the solution is under scrutiny.
Let’s use the example of content created to help your buyers understand how to choose the best solution for them (aka yours). The benefits or value reaped from the solution can be the same, but the reasons why each persona cares about those outcomes can differ. As an example:
- Procurement will care that they’re getting the best deal, but they will also want to know how to make the right choice when the price is negligible between vendors.
- Vendor management will want to understand the value in relation to what will make their jobs easier and have them look better to their organizations.
- Project managers and end users will want to know what else they’ll get beyond the solution, and why those things will make a difference in the partnership.
- Executives will want to know how they’ll get what you’ve been promising all along and some reinforcement that they’re making the right decision to choose your solution.
In cases like this, the body copy can be essentially the same, but the title, keywords, introduction, premise, and conclusion can be tailored to what each of the personas cares about most.
Put Content Curation on Steroids
It’s likely that you already curate content from non-competing influencers in your industry to share in social networks. But, it’s also just as likely that you share that content as it stands. You’re missing out on a great opportunity to streamline your content creation process.
Curation on steroids is about adding value to content written by others that you choose to share.
- Find content that discusses an issue your intended audience cares about
- Look for opportunities the author missed to expand on the value the original content provides that fits with your company’s expertise
- Create content that summarizes the content you’re curating, include a link back to it, and add in your commentary
Note that it’s better to go at this in a positive and complimentary way than in a critical way. And, the author of the original content may comment and share your content with their networks—which provides even more value and exposure for your brand.
You can also think of curation on steroids as a back door into influencer marketing. In other words, the author will be more willing to consider creating a joint piece with you, giving an interview or participating on a webinar once you’ve promoted their work—and added to it thoughtfully.
Content creation doesn’t need to be taxing and stressful. There are many ways to hack content creation to eliminate one of your biggest challenges to content marketing effectiveness. The ideas presented above will get you started. Each of them will streamline your efforts, but also ensure that your content is seen as useful, relevant, and valuable to your audience.