Content Marketers Still Have A Long Way to Go

Three weeks ago I was able to attend and speak at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, OH.  The event was a three-day content love-fest and I thoroughly enjoyed speaking about, listening and having great dialogue with others about their content strategies and approached.   While there is no doubt that content marketers are making great strides in terms of content usage, there is still a long way to go if we as marketers are going to make a difference in our organizations and with our B2B buyers.

Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute, kicked the conference off by reviewing some of the stats from the Annual Content Benchmark study conducted by CMI and MarketingProfs and it was the results of the survey that confirmed my suspicion –  while many are working at content marketing – 91% use content marketing, few are truly seeing any benefit or value.

As seen above, 91% of organizations that were surveyed are using content marketing in some form or fashion.  However, as was revealed only 50% of those that are using content marketing have a strategy.   I also believe a case could be made about the 50% who have a strategy as that word carries a lot of weight which I believe many organizations do not truly comprehend.

Content-Marketing

This lack of strategy is one of the key reasons why of those doing content marketing, only 36% will rate their content as effective or very effective.   No surprises here – no strategy equals a lack of effectiveness.

In thinking about the study, talking to people at the conference, comparing my thoughts to some of those from CMI and also taking stock of the many companies I speak with on an ongoing basis, I believe three fundamental problems that are preventing marketing from getting the most value from their content:

1.  Marketers Confuse Doing More with Value

The CMI-Profs Study asked two questions:

Question one:  Challenges that B2B Content Marketers Face – the number one answer?  64% stated their number one challenge was “Producing Enough Content” followed by 52% stating that “Producing the Kind of Content that Engages” was their number one challenge.

In looking at the ranking of the answers, it is clear that marketers place a significantly higher value on quantity rather than quality.  However, buyers see it differently – in the B2B Buyers Survey conducted by DemandGen Report, buyers ranked relevance of information provided as the most important attribute when selecting a vendor.  Clearly marketers are not seeing it from the aspect of their buyers.

In addition to just producing more content, marketers are operating in a very tactical fashion.

Question two: Asked B2B Marketers about the “Average Number of Tactics That Are Used”  – 64% of organizations are using more than 10+ tactics in their marketing mix.  Combine numerous tactics with without a clear strategy and you get misaligned and confused messages going to your buyers.

2.  Marketers Are Not Thinking About Their Buyers When Developing Content

In their “State of B2B Demand Generation Study”, Forrester states that only 14% of organizations align their content to the buyers journey and according to DemandGen Report 62% of buyers state that vendors focus their content too much on product or services.

If we want to develop content that truly engages, marketers have to stop thinking about themselves and think about their buyers – in a strategic fashion.  Keep in mind that strategic demand generation is not just about qualifying; it also is about educating.  Buyers want to know that vendors are experts, they know the issues, they get the problems of their buyers.  The product’s “differentiator” does not matter as much as vendors think it does.

3.   Marketers Lack the Necessary Skills Needed in Todays Marketing 2.0World

I received the following text from a colleague while at Content Marketing World – “I’m getting a little tired of the ‘you can do this’ message at some of these shows.  There is so much focus on the why and always so little on the how.”  This text says it all – most marketers now know what they should be doing, but they don’t know how to do it. Why?  This is hard stuff and most marketers were not trained on how to execute and drive strategic demand generation and create valuable content.  While the buying process has changed dramatically with buyers having more access to information, marketers have been asked to transform on the fly with no  training on how to do so creating a massive chasm between the sophisticated buyer and marketing organizations.

Several studies have indicated that less than $1,000 is spent annually on marketing training and a majority of marketers state that they are self-taught.  Meanwhile, the buying process becomes more complex, buyers are increasingly more demanding and beginning to take notice of the shortfall.

It truly is time for a change – organizations have to begin investing in getting their marketing teams equipped strategically.  This means a shift from tactics to strategy. Reorganizing to align to the buyers purchase process, taking the time to understand what matter to our buyers instead of cranking out more product information.

The gap will grow increasingly wider between vendors and buyers until some serious attention is given to the issues and while it may draw more to conferences in search of answers, the real problems will be solved when marketers commit to the needed change.

Author: Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalgo is CEO and Principal, ANNUITAS

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