2B companies have always had a mountain to climb when it comes to content development. What they create needs to be valuable, engaging, and entertaining. But most importantly: It needs to drive continuous results. SEMRush’s annual survey finds that content development consistently tops the list of challenges marketers face. In 2020, nearly half of those surveyed struggled to create content that attracted more traffic, and 51 percent had trouble generating quality leads. Another 43 percent had difficulty creating content that resonated with their target audiences. These numbers have hardly changed in the past few years, indicating how difficult this really is.
Last year, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) found that 94 percent of content marketers significantly changed their strategy in response to COVID-19, having to throw out or alter most of their existing messaging. If you’re struggling with your content development now, most of your peers are in the same boat. So, how’s a content marketing manager supposed to keep the good content rolling without breaking a sweat?
Whether you’re trying to streamline your existing content development approach, or start from scratch, here’s four major ways to make the process a lot easier:
1. Set Realistic Goals (and Be Specific)
To optimize your content development process, you must be able to articulate exactly what you want your content to do. There’s so much more than brand awareness to gain from good content. Are you trying to generate qualified leads? Improve thought leadership? Boost your rankings in search?
Before you begin streamlining your content development process, gather your team and make sure everyone’s on the same page about what your organization is trying to accomplish. Defining your goals helps you better define your content development process.
Try to tie content with your overall business goals. The right content can help your company generate more leads or be used by sales teams to usher prospects through the sales funnel. Sometimes it can even help customers see possibilities and benefits that aren’t registering in other forms of interactions. Good content does more than increase following on social media — it increases revenue and drives bottom-line business objectives.
2. Put Ideas in the Bank
Content development isn’t a race, it’s a marathon that will require regular refueling and abundant energy reserves.
Have research and ideation time built into your regular development process so that you can keep the inspiration flowing. Have your customer’s pain points in mind. Ask coworkers for input. Read the news in your niche and collect op-eds you can use to create counter pieces. Tap into your sales team and ask them for common questions from clients.
As your imagination naturally responds to all this information, keep track of your ideas in as much detail as possible — in a document, spreadsheet, or some other collaboration tool. Write down all of them, even if they go far beyond your scope or budget. Your ideas could be useful in future situations, or be refined into something you can actually use. Like money, having ideas in your bank will collect interest, and help you get through a rainy day.
3. Get Organized With an Editorial Calendar and Collaboration Tools
Every great content development strategy begins and ends with an editorial calendar, complete with deadlines and who’s responsible for them. According to CMI, four out of five top performing content marketers use some form of editorial calendar, while half of the least successful wing it. For B2B companies with a dedicated-but-small content development team, even creating and sticking to a calendar on a spreadsheet can make a world of difference. Having any system in place saves time and improves efficiency.
For companies with larger teams or a network of out-of-house freelancers, that could mean investment in more robust collaboration and project management software that can help keep projects organized and team members on task.. And, of course, they track assignments and timelines in one neat and tidy place, which makes it easy to spot bottlenecks or projects falling through cracks. Collaboration tools that use message boards and instant message systems for easy communication and idea-swapping can also help spur on impromptu brainstorming sessions — especially useful in a remote work environment.
4. Focus on Unique, Quality Content — Not Quantity
One of the biggest wrenches in an unoptimized content development plan is, well, poor content.Instead of flooding the internet with generic blogs trying to be like everyone else, take a more precise and focused approach: Find interesting story angles that only your company can tell. Leverage internal SMEs for unique insight and refine that story until it’s crystal clear, concise, and easily digestible. Draw from your loyal customers’ experience to highlight your company’s real value. And keep your mind on your goals.
Content is still king in 2021, and its quality can make or break your brand in the post-COVID world. Now matter how large or small your company is, a well-developed and efficient content strategy is key to your marketing efforts. If you’re looking for more ways to streamline and scale your content development efforts, hit us up!