2014 Content Strategy: Do Less

2014 Content Strategy: Do Less
In the latest research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, content marketers show that they’re definitely making progress in understanding the uniqueness of the discipline and refining their skills. The results show that 44% say they have a documented strategy and 73% have a designated person who oversees strategy.

This is huge.

Because, just like anything else in life, nothing gets done unless someone’s responsible for it. And the quality of the results also depends on having a solid strategy so you know where you’re going and can tell when you get there.

But progress doesn’t mean maturity, and content marketing still has a long way to go before it’s a taken-for-granted part of our marketing discipline.

But here’s one ginormous faux pas that I see constantly: mistaking content for content marketing. Content is what we’ve always developed as marketers. Just calling emails, web sites and brochures “content” doesn’t magically make it content marketing. The Benchmarks research says that 93% of B2B marketers are using content marketing; I vocally disagree that’s the case. Back to re-labeling something doesn’t make it so.

More ≠ Better
Seventy three percent of respondents say that they’re producing more content now than they were a year ago. Based on the quality of content I see, this isn’t a good thing. While I adamantly believe that you don’t have to choose between quality or quantity, there needs to be a sane mix of both. There’s still almost a 50% gap between the number of people who say they’re practicing content marketing and those who have a strategy.

This “more” mentality hits B2B marketers where it hurts them most, and it’s no different from any other aspect of marketing. To bombard your audience with generic, irrelevant content that has no strategy or purpose is telling them to ignore you.

Here’s three incredibly telling stats about the challenges content marketers say that they face:

  • 69% of say they lack time
  • 55% say they can’t produce enough content
  • 47% struggle with producing the kind of content that engages

And back to the 73% who are producing more content now that a year ago – they’re confessing that they’re putting out low quality….stuff….and that it’s not engaging. Why would you continue to feed this crazy beast?

Here’s Your  2014 Resolution
With an unquenchable thirst for more content (and in more forms, mind you), marketers are their own worst enemy. I challenge marketers caught up in the more more more mentality to ask themselves some critical questions:

  1. How well do I know my audience?
  2. How well do I know my story?
  3. What’s my buyer’s journey
  4. What’s my content strategy for tying these three together?

When I look at the content that comes from almost every B2B company, it’s clear that less content and a significantly greater attention to quality would be money well spent. Often, I’m not sure that these companies took the time to understand who they’re talking to, and the pains and pressure their audience faces on a daily basis. Or, if they have personas, they haven’t taken the time to personalize content to each of them. So they pump out volumes of content, hoping something will stick.

Relevancy Rules
Stellar storytelling comes from knowing yourself and why you’re in the market, and knowing exactly what matters to your customers/prospects and when. Pumping up the (content) volume without it being exceptional hurts your brand. This is where listening to your customers and having personal relationships comes into play. Not to mention measurement and analytics.

You have to tell a long-term story that connects with your customers and that has a solid structure to it. Quit talking about the same things you always talk about. And start talking about something that’s interesting and helpful to your customers. It’s not about you; it’s about them.

When you have the courage to do that, you don’t need a dump truck of content. You need less content, because that’s what makes a significantly bigger impact.

So, as you look ahead to 2014, I offer one resolution for your content strategy: do less.

Make a difference by saying less, and saying it less often. By doing this, you’ll free up time to better understand who you’re really talking to and what they need to hear. And trust me, you’ll see that when you talk less, people will listen more.

About Carla Johnson

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Carla Johnson is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author.

Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators and visionaries leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action. Her work with Fortune 500 brands has served as the foundation for many of her books.

In her latest project, Fast Forward Files, she contributes to a larger collection of thoughts by some of the world’s greatest minds -  Shazam co-founder Dhiraj Mukherjee, activist and entrepreneur Heather Mills and behavioral designer, technologist and mental-health champion Peter Trainor. Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking. 

Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.