Summit 2013 Highlights: Inciting a B-to-B Content Revolution

Fully 60 to 70 percent of content churned out by b-to-b marketing departments today sits unused. This stark statistic underscores the urgent need for a content revolution in b-to-b organizations.

The SiriusDecisions Content Model, a new framework introduced today by SiriusDecisions’ Summit 2013 event in San Diego, aims to help companies launch such a revolution.

“Our revolutionized perspective is that content is an enterprise-wide strategy requiring the alignment of product, sales and marketing in order to optimize the factory that produces content,” said Marisa Kopec, vice president and group director at SiriusDecisions.

Content – defined as all information components produced by marketing to communicate ideas and transfer knowledge to buyer and seller audiences – plays a critical role in driving demand. But when the type of content created does not align with buyers’ and sellers’ needs, it fails to support the types of conversations that are required to move the buying process forward.

An instant survey conducted at the Summit revealed that 28 percent of audience members described their organizations’ current content process as “in the Dark Ages.” Nearly two-thirds of respondents considered their process to have entered the next stage, the “Age of Enlightenment,” which is marked by recognition that the existing system is broken.

The SiriusDecisions Content Model divides the content cycle into three main stages – ideation, activation and creation. Most importantly, the framework calls for an enterprise-wide cross-functional process, said Erin Estep, service director for the Strategic Communications Management service at SiriusDecisions. Core functions including portfolio marketing, global campaigns, communications, sales enablement and field marketing are each responsible for contributing to content production and managing specific content activities or processes within the three stages.

A revolutionized content factory also brings in a new role: content operations, which offers visibility into the process from start to finish and acts as knowledge repository for other participants. “Certainly, the role is strategic, but it’s also operational,” Estep said.

Although product-centric content still has a place in a best-in-class content factory, organizations should aim to regularly supplement it with audience-centric content. Here, portfolio marketing can take the lead in the content ideation phase to ensure that content offers align with buyer personas and buying-cycle stages, Estep and Kopec explained.

The communications function, meanwhile, can move beyond simply serving as content assemblers to adopt a more strategic role, working with campaign and program teams to create operational strategies and frameworks that will enable enterprise content operations.

In global organizations, content localization can create additional headaches. The revolutionized content model calls for field marketing to create a percentage of content within their individual locations. Doing so limits the rejection or inefficient reworking of content from the central factory.

Finally, Estep and Kopec recommended that sales also become integrated in the content creation process. If not, it may start creating its own content. “Creating a disparate factory from the marketing factory creates redundancy, inefficiency and pain and suffering for the workers in both of those factories,” Kopec said.

Overhauling the b-to-b content creation process is no small task. For organizations looking to start a content revolution, the first step is to begin a cross-functional discussion, Estep said. Ultimately, significant redundancy in content activities and assets can be eliminated, and content can make an optimal contribution to sales productivity and results.

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