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Building a Case for Better Content

August 06, 2013 | By Erin Provey

In large, complex b-to-b organizations, content expertise is inconveniently spread across functional silos. Therefore, best practice content creation must be a collaborative effort in a cross-functional process.

I work with a lot of talented and experienced digital and social media marketers, and if there’s one thing I hear from almost every one of them, it’s that they are in dire need of content. Most of them need more content, and almost all of them need better content.

In large, complex b-to-b organizations, content expertise is inconveniently spread across functional silos. For example, portfolio (e.g. product, solution, industry, segment) marketers tend to be the resident subject-matter experts, but a different marketing resource usually needs to unlock and repackage that expertise into a compelling piece of content. Rarely do industry expertise and content expertise reside in a single function, never mind in a single individual.

Therefore, best practice content creation must be a collaborative effort in a cross-functional process, as we’ve laid out in the SiriusDecisions Content Model. Most organizations we work with are currently transitioning toward this approach – building buyer persona expertise, implementing an integrated campaign framework, thinking about content as a vehicle for information rather than an asset format, involving sales in the upstream planning process and engaging in a more thoughtful, rational process about budget allocation for regional and local content.

So, what can social media marketers do to contribute to the turning of the ship? Instead of just wishing for more, better content, conduct a research project using these five steps:

  • Categorize all previously activated content into one of three categories: reputation, demand creation or sales enablement. If the content was intended to generate influencer interest or earned attention through engagement, sharing and amplification, it’s reputation content. If the content was intended to generate leads (either directly through gating or indirectly through pulling buyers toward the Web site), it’s demand creation content. If the content was intended to be activated by a seller in either an online or offline sales scenario, it’s sales enablement content.
  • Within each of the three categories, identify the highest- and lowest-performing pieces of content. Measure the content against its intent in order to truly understand its performance. For example, a great piece of reputation content will appear to be a flop if you measure its ability to create leads.
  • Identify the top one or two and bottom one or two pieces within each category, leaving a manageable six to 12 content assets and associated metrics. If you’re feeling ambitious, gather a larger number of assets, segmented by asset format (e.g. video, blog post, infographic).
  • Analyze each piece of content and identify what can be learned from its success or failure. Determine best practices from the best pieces and pitfalls to avoid from the worst. Consider length, production value, product-centricity, uniqueness, visual interest, industry relevance, digestibility and other attributes.
  • Find out from each asset’s creators approximately how much time and money was invested in its creation. Map out the resources associated with each, rough financial cost, information or insight required to create the piece, the and intent or purpose of the piece.

Synthesize your findings, and present them to key content resources (including budget allocators) in the organization in order to illustrate the qualitative attributes of a great piece of content…with an associated pricetag. Additionally, be prepared to show a micro view of the money and time wasted on dull, low-performing content in order to illustrate how efforts can – and should be shifted – to support high-performing content.

Struggling with Content Creation?

The SiriusDecisions Content Model outlines an enterprise-wide approach to developing better content and reducing content waste. Learn more about this model and view our OnDemand webcast, Content Operations: The Nerve Center for B-to-B Content.

Erin Provey

Erin Provey is a Senior Research Director of Corporate and Executive Marketing Strategies at SiriusDecisions. She has more than 10 years of experience in brand strategy, including positioning, identity, public relations, digital strategy, copywriting and account management. Follow Erin on Twitter @erinprovey.
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