Content creation: Lessons from the B2B leaders

20 November 2017

What are the four content creation traits that define the most successful B2B content marketing exponents?

Our latest research explores the content marketing strategies of 150 financial, professional services and technology firms through the eyes of their senior client-facing teams. This is the second blog in a series looking at what the content marketing leaders in this group do differently – across content planning, creation, distribution, and measurement.

Best practice content creation 

Content marketing leaders have got creation down to a fine art; they know who to engage at what stage, and how to ensure the best possible content is made available to the funnel. How do they do this?

They use marketing as a centre of excellence

The question of whether to centralise or decentralise your marketing initiatives, and the role of marketing versus sales are as old as the hills – and as pertinent in the creation of content as any other initiative. While a wheel-and-spoke model is no guarantee of success, our latest research indicates that leaders tend towards a central and collaborative way of working that incorporates the best of both worlds.

All leaders produce content centrally, tailoring it to the needs of sales throughout the organisation, driving benefits from the economies of scale and consistency of centralised production. The marketing department is instrumental in the content creation, and often in commissioning. And it is a partnership: none of our leaders leaves content creation exclusively to client-facing teams, whereas 28% of others do.

They ensure consistency 

It takes a lot of time and money to develop a strong brand voice, so the last thing a leader wants is for branded content to be released that contradicts or doesn’t conform to ‘the way they do things’. This consistency is best achieved through centrally-produced content, but there are a few things you can do to encourage the best from the outset.

First, produce central brand guidelines that include an editorial style guide; these are used by 85% of leaders to ensure consistency, compared to only 51% of others. These guidelines set out the company’s tone of voice, and indicate how to handle grammatical quirks such as bullet lists and acronyms.

Then, editorial tools such as templates and best practice examples can show the business what good looks like, as can sharing successful content internally. Encourage content producers to learn from each other’s performance for continuous improvement.

Not all marketing teams have the capacity for central checks, but if resource allows it’s a good idea to get marketing to give final sign-off to any content produced. Alternatively, work with an external agency to get that consistent approach.

They look outside their industry for inspiration

Leaders are almost twice as likely as others to include the views of inspirational individuals outside their industry (77% vs 41%), looking to stand out from the crowd by using a different approach.

Cut-through is all-important in these days of short attention spans and marketing noise. While your in-house experts should be talking about the things you do to help solve client problems, consider what your industry could learn from an external perspective. It could be a tale of leadership from a global CEO or sports coach, innovative working practices from another sector, or it could be as simple as taking cues from current affairs.

Also consider the views of your clients’ clients; this is the most sought-after group according to our previous research, but only 54% of leaders and 40% of others include their opinion in their content. There’s one big missed opportunity to grab onto.

They use a multi-format approach

Just as we found leaders use content for a variety of means – from brand awareness to lead generation – they also use multiple formats to tell their stories. This not only creates efficiencies – make it once, use it multiple times – but it also helps to maximise your reach by strengthening SEO.

As the Content Marketing Institute says, while a fair share of users may prefer visually-oriented content, others may like audio or easy-to-read text, so refreshing your content delivery formats allows you to appeal to a wider audience.

We found leaders use significantly more video – both talking heads (69% vs 39%) and explainers (54% vs 34%) – as well as in-person slide presentations (69% vs 36%), online magazines (62% vs 36%), apps (62% vs 31%), e-books (54% vs 36%), short articles (54% vs 35%), infographics (54% vs 32%) and podcasts (54% vs 30%).

All of this can be built into your content marketing strategy, helping to steer best practice creation and ensure you benefit from economies of scale.

What else can you learn from content marketing leaders? Download the report here.

Best Practice Content Marketing - download CTA

 

Author: Andrew Rogerson

Andy is a co-founder of Grist, and account director for many of our professional services clients. His recent projects span the full range of marketing communications, including integrated content marketing programmes, web development, thought leadership and video. Prior to founding Grist, Andy was marketing director at the Economist Intelligence Unit in London and New York.

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