Content marketing is fast-becoming the preferred approach for increasing numbers of firms. In business-to-business particularly, content marketing can be invaluable in leading prospective clients on a journey towards a long-term relationship.
What can often be a lengthy sales process is supported via increasingly targeted communications, delivering genuinely valuable content that engages and nurtures contacts until they are ready to buy.
But content marketing brings unique challenges for the B2B Marketer. To undertake a successful content marketing strategy, you need to commit to producing content regularly. For over-stretched Marketing teams, often battling reduced budgets and teams, this can be a major barrier. Not to mention the challenges of turning around topical content quickly enough, and the need to identify a constant stream of ideas for engaging content.
Here we look at why Marketers struggle to create content marketing materials, and what you can do to overcome the obstacles.
Why is content marketing so valuable?
Content marketing can be a great way to generate leads and improve customer engagement. A survey by Marketing Insider Group earlier this year found that 81% of B2C Marketers were working on generating content that could build customer loyalty.
Source: Marketing Insider Group
The same survey details the benefits Marketing teams see from implementing a content marketing strategy, among them greater team alignment; increased focus on key areas; and ease of deciding on which content to prioritise.
Source: Marketing Insider Group
The benefits of a content-led approach, then, are clear. But getting this content to market can be a different matter.
What are the challenges when producing content marketing materials?
- Insufficient resources
Across the board, Marketing teams are more sparsely populated than ever. Many teams have been pared back, with external agencies brought in when needed to produce creative collateral. But this can be a false economy, leading either to an inability to produce the content you need, or reduced in-house costs more than compensated for by agency fees.
Often, specialisms are the main casualty of these efficiencies, with internal design and digital experts replaced by marketing generalists. All very well, but unless you have a way of producing creative materials that any non-expert can use, you have lost the ability to produce cost-effective and professional marketing content.
As a result, Marketers struggle to create either the volume or the quality of collateral they need.
- Meeting the constant demand for output
The question of volume is important. Once you start down the content marketing route, delivering a regular flow of content – whether that’s blogs, white papers, tip sheets, e-books or other materials – is essential. A stop/start approach just won’t cut it.
If you want to bring your audience along with you, you need to supply them with a steady stream of valuable information.
But this can be hard, for the resource reasons above, because it can be difficult to come up with new and engaging content topics and formats, and because it can be a huge challenge to get new content to market quickly (particularly in a regulated environment, where Compliance team approvals add an extra layer of necessary admin).
Many Marketers struggle to keep pace with the need to ‘feed the content beast’, as Marketing Insider Group calls it; the constant demand for the volume of content needed to deliver an effective programme of content marketing.
- Branding requirements
A survey by marketing agency SIO digital identified brand consistency as one of the biggest challenges Marketers face, while Marketing Insider Group note that ‘maintaining volume, quality and speed’ is vital – yet managing all three can be the elusive Holy Grail.
Your business may be able to get marketing materials out quickly …but are they high-quality and on-brand? Brand consistency is a key consideration for Marketers – but can be a casualty of materials produced to short deadlines.
Often, businesses respond by going ‘off-piste’, creating non-brand compliant materials, out of sight of the Marketing team. This is detrimental not just to your brand, but your regulatory compliance.
- Timely reviews and approvals
Related to the above, getting sign-off for marketing content from the appropriate people in your business is essential – from the point of view of your messaging, your visual brand and your compliance obligations.
But this again can throw a spanner in the works of your content marketing efforts. The requisite approvals process can be a labour-intensive, inefficient one. Getting sign-off from the relevant people can slow you down and hinder your ability to share new content – something that can be particularly frustrating if you’re producing topical materials with a short window of opportunity.
All too often, content marketing ambitions are scuppered by plodding processes that delay the creation and publication of new materials.
- Regulation adds another layer of challenges
As we’ve mentioned above, if you’re governed by an industry regulator like the Financial Conduct Authority, reviews and approvals aren’t just best practice, they’re a non-negotiable necessity.
Getting (and keeping an audit trail of) sign-off by the right person in the business is an essential step in your marketing collateral production process – and while this can put essential rigour around your branding and compliance, it can also slow your route to market.
How to solve your content creation challenges
The content tools mentioned in the survey above are certainly effective, but as we’ve detailed above, they can also be labour-intensive and challenging to create, particularly at the volume needed for an effective content marketing strategy.
To address the potential barriers we’ve outlined, consider:
- Maximising the efficiency of your content production. Think about how you can make your approvals and production processes more efficient – who needs to be involved; how do you share proofs and manage revisions?
- Introducing an element of martech to support you. Many firms are finding that making use of online marketing technology tools can help with resourcing, brand consistency, speed, compliance – solving many of the common challenges in one fell swoop.
- Collaborate better with other teams – the Marketing team doesn’t have to be solely responsible for producing collateral if you make it easy for others to be self-sufficient.
- Reinventing the wheel can be a big problem in marketing. By making it easy for people to find the assets they need, you can enable others to quickly recreate existing materials, retaining brand integrity and saving time and money. Good digital asset management is essential to an efficient content production process.
Optimise your content marketing by overcoming the challenges
Clearly, there are challenges when implementing a content marketing strategy – but the benefits of the approach are also clear and numerous – we certainly think that finding ways to tackle the obstacles are more than repaid in the results of an effective content strategy.
Hopefully, this blog has helped to identify some of the challenges you might face, and given you some ideas on how you can overcome them. As we noted, martech can be invaluable in streamlining marketing content production and enabling you to create professional, compliant content at pace.
Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.