The New Year is a great time to take stock of your current B2B content activities and look at what has worked for you, and what maybe didn’t deliver for you in 2017.
It’s easy to get caught up in the latest trends around content, so taking a bit of time at the beginning of the year to review your strategy for the following year will help to refine and refocus your efforts.
If you’re a company wanting to build your audience in a particular industry with content, or you’re a B2B sales rep who wants to reach more prospects through content marketing, then read on for some ideas about how to refine your content strategy in 2018.
(If you need a bit of extra support, download the free Content Marketing for B2B sales workbook and template here: Download the guide in our Resources section)
Better align sales and marketing activities in 2018
One of the main gripes that organisations report about their content marketing efforts is that marketing and sales departments are not effectively aligned. Sales teams can feel that marketing collateral isn’t useful for their specific buyer needs, while marketing can be frustrated at a lack of involvement or input from sales teams.
In 2018, sales and marketing departments need to be more aligned to ensure that content is being produced that is going to support specific sales metrics.
This starts with marketing executives sitting down with sales management to understand the sales teams’ key focus areas for the next 12 months, and specific sales scenarios that content assets could support.
An example in practice
For example, the business may want to increase revenues by 10% over the next 12 months. To make this happen, the sales team is going to focus on expanding their share of customer spend in existing accounts by selling more add-on services. To do this, sales teams may require updated presentations to take into customer meetings, business case justification proposals for clients and a case study detailing where a customer has purchased add-on services and experienced better business operations.
Without discussing specific content needs with the sales team, the marketing department could have gone away and created sales brochures and generic content relating to the new add-on services; which may have not proved useful in actual sales engagements with customers.
Likewise, marketing departments will find their content become more valuable with increased input from sales teams and their customers. This could be across case studies, testimonials, or input from customers about the type of future content and resources they would like to receive.
Don’t just create marketing plans for the sake of having a marketing plan. Ensure that every marketing activity lines up with specific sales goals and revenue objectives. Ensure marketing supports sales, and sales supports marketing efforts.
Do you need to refine your content’s target audience?
Do you have clear buyer personas in place for your content marketing efforts?
How useful are these personas for your content creation?
Sometimes, buyer personas are too broad, and consequently, any content produced is too generic and never appeals to a specific audience. Instead of thinking about targeting a specific job role (i.e. IT Manager) within a specific industry (i.e. Education), try to go ‘hyper-personal’ in 2018 by being more specific about your buyers.
Instead of thinking of a sector as a whole like Education, think about the specific organisations within that sector and try creating content related to those organisations. The reason we should do this more is because we tend to want to read content that relates to our specific situation, and the more specific and tailored, the more likely we are to engage with that content.
An example in the education sector could be trialling a content strategy targeting IT Management in Sixth Form Colleges – and tailoring content to talk about the challenges and objectives for management in these specific types of organisations.
You could interview other customers from these organisations to tailor your content further and hit on specific messages related to those types of institutions.
Do you have content marketing outcomes?
Have you set specific, desired outcomes for your content marketing, or are your objectives a bit vague?
If you don’t feel that content marketing has delivered for you in 2017, then this year try looking again at your set outcomes for what you want to achieve with your content creation activities.
For example, if you have been too rigid in 2017 looking only at developing qualified sales leads through content and haven’t achieve what you wanted, try considering some softer outcomes this year, such as building your reputation in a specific industry, building your brand awareness or creating a thought leadership platform across your desired target sectors.
On the other hand, if you have built up a credible position with content in your industry already, then now may be the time to put some structure around specific lead targets which you want to achieve.
These desired outcomes should also include how your sales teams will support these content marketing initiatives; i.e. this quarter, we aim to deliver 30 new early-stage leads to our telemarketing team to follow up with next quarter, who will then be invited to our industry event in 6 months’ time.
We’ve put together a Content Marketing for B2B Sales workbook for you to download and fill in with your own content strategy and desired outcomes. The workbook also includes a detailed content strategy – perfect for B2B companies and sales reps to create their own content strategies.
Download the guide in our Resources section.