It’s easy to overlook the importance of content marketing. Tactics like blogging, thought leadership and organic posting can often lose out to more lead and sales-based tactics. While positioning with content is a vital part of marketing, the idea that it doesn’t convert makes it less attractive to a lot of businesses – and not worth the precious time and resources.
However, the value of positioning through content marketing should never be underestimated. We consistently see our clients achieve conversions from customers who have been receiving content from them for months – even years.
Even if you are invested in content marketing tactics, actually getting it going (and keeping the momentum) can be hard. Best intentions don’t quite cut it. B2B content marketing needs rhythm and consistency to be effective.
But whether you’re facing it for the first time and it seems daunting, or you’ve failed before and are dubious about doing it again, we’ve got good news: it is possible to build a B2B content marketing plan you can stick to. The trick is to build it correctly from the foundations up. That way, it will be much easier to stick to, much more efficient, and much more effective.
Is your plan planning to fail?
You might be thinking, “But I already have a plan, but my content marketing is still suffering”. It’s a common problem (we’ve even been there ourselves). Unfortunately, simply having a plan doesn’t mean your content marketing will stay on track.
There are many reasons execution fails to live up to the plan. But three of the most common reasons are one (or all) of these:
Other things get in the way
There are hundreds of moving parts in any businesses. Priorities can shift quickly, and choices have to be made about where time and resources are best spent. Content marketing can quickly fall to the bottom of the pile… and never make it back to the top.
The plan’s not realistic
Grand ideas, big hopes and high expectations can be great – until they need to be put into action. Aiming too big or setting the bar too high from the beginning only increases the chance of burn out or disappointment later on. An overstuffed, overly ambitious, or strictly detailed content plan will be almost impossible to deliver.
There’s no buy-in
This is a big one. If the team doesn’t understand the importance of content marketing, and there’s no acceptance of why it’s happening and how it fits into wider business or marketing goals, then the enthusiasm to do it will be zero. No one will prioritise what they don’t judge to be important.
Five tips for an effective B2B content marketing plan
1. Share the load
While not everyone in your team might be a writer, everyone is there for a reason – they have more skill, experience, or knowledge than others they can share. Sharing the load not only means the burden doesn’t lie on just one person for content but broadens the pool of ideas and knowledge you can share. Schedule your topics and content contributors into your plan so everyone knows when it’s their turn and what’s expected.
2. Do it in advance
This might seem obvious but planning your content well ahead of when you need it is a real time saver and puts a lot less pressure on your writer. There’s no best timeframe to plan for – we do ours as far out as 12 months. But 3 or 6 months can work, too, depending on the rhythm you’ve decided on and how flexible you want your content to be. You can also write in advance if you have the time.
3. Listen to the data
Once you’re a few months into your content marketing efforts, you will be able to get some insight into what’s working – and what’s not. Your data will tell you important information like which topics are most favoured, how often people want to engage with your content, and even what times of the day are best to reach your readers. You can then use this data to guide your content plan and get the most return for your efforts.
4. Cheat a little
Sometimes, no matter how good your intentions or your content plan, you just don’t have the capacity to put together something new. That doesn’t mean you have to skip your content and ruin your rhythm. Republishing some older evergreen pieces is more than acceptable (simply switching up the display image or tweaking the title can make it seem like new). Reusing content is a great way to maintain engagement and stick to your content plan without continually creating new content.
5. Be authentic
We wrote about this recently. It is much easier to be inspired to create and share content when you believe in what you’re writing. When it is authentically insightful, interesting and helpful. It’s also the type of content that will best resonate with your audience. Forcing yourself to write something just for the sake of it is a disfavour to your audience and a waste of your time. Always remember: quality over quantity.
The first step is the hardest
While some people love plans, many others find them daunting, unhelpful or limiting. But when it comes to content marketing, the only thing harder than building a plan is not having a plan at all.
This isn’t to say you can’t be spontaneous or write about important topics as they happen. Plans should leave space for flexibility but also have enough content ideas to tide you over when inspiration is low. It’s all about finding a happy medium that suits your team and your audience.
Before you even start on your plan, make sure you know about the importance of content marketing and how to best use it. If you (or any of your team) are uncertain about the value, take some time to learn just what a strong B2B content marketing plan can do. This blog is a great place to start.
The best way to start is simply to start brainstorming and writing. But if you need some help, there’s no shame in turning to an expert (in fact, in many cases, we encourage it). If you’re keen for your content to run in the background without you having to worry, outsourcing your B2B content marketing can be a good option. Alternatively, just get in touch for some tips and advice on making it work for your business.