What’s the Latest in Content Creation for B-to-B Marketers?

Content creationThere’s an interesting new study just published that gives us interesting clues about what B-to-B marketers are doing in content creation.

The B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends study is a joint research effort of the Content Marketing Institute and marketing information resources firm MarketingProfs. The survey found that nine out of ten B-to-B marketers are using some form of content marketing activities to achieve their business goals.

[For this survey, content marketing (also known as custom publishing or branded content) is defined as “the creation and distribution of educational and/or compelling content in multiple formats to attract and/or retain customers.”]

The research found that usage of several content tactics is now quite widespread:

 News articles: ~79% of respondents are using
 Social media (excluding blogs): ~74%
 Blogs: ~65%
 e-Newsletters: ~63%
 Case studies: ~58%
 In-person events: ~56%
 Videos: ~52%
 White papers: ~51%
 Webinars or webcasts: ~46%

When queried as to how effective marketers believe these tactics to be, a combination of traditional and “new” ones were cited with high effectiveness scores:

 In-person events: ~78% view as an “effective” tactic
 Case studies: ~70
 Webinars or webcasts: ~70%
 e-Newsletters: ~60%
 White papers: ~60%
 Blogs: ~58%
 Web microsites: ~56%
 Articles: ~51%
 Social media: ~51%
 Videos: ~51%

The survey also investigated how content tactics are being measured for success. Tracking web traffic stats is the most popular measurement tool:

 Web traffic: ~58% use to measure success
 Sales lead quality: ~49% use
 Direct sales figures: ~41% use
 Sales lead quantity: ~41% use
 Qualitative feedback from customers: ~40% use
 Search engine rankings: ~40% use
 Inbound weblinks: ~30% use

And what is the biggest challenge these marketers see in content creation? It’s the age-old problem of coming up with interesting topics to write about.

More than four in ten respondents cited “producing the kind of content that engages prospects and customers” as their biggest challenge.

Some of the comments heard from survey respondents on this topic sound all-too-familiar:

 “Finding people within my organization to contribute their expertise … nobody outside of marketing seems to see the value in sharing our expertise with the market via content.”

 “Having the discipline and being able to assign sufficient resources to create and manage the right content for the target audience, in a sustainable manner.”

 “The ideas are all there; it’s just a matter of finding time to create and write copy.”

 “Management patience: Management needs to understand that in today’s B-to-B environment, it takes time to engage prospects.”

What about your situation? Are your content management issues the same ones as reported in this study … or are you facing different challenges?

Updating the Marketing “4 Ps”

The Four Ps of MarketingIn business, we like our checklists and concise bullet points. It’s all part of our impulse to distill ideas and principles down to their essence … and to promote economy and efficiency in whatever we do.

In marketing and communications, it’s no different. Most everyone who’s studied business in school knows about the “4 Ps” of marketing: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion.

Today, that listing seems woefully incomplete and inadequate – even quaint. Stepping in to fill the void are additional attributes that have been proffered by marketing specialists. Several of these newer lists — one coined by Robert Lauterborn, a professor of advertising at the University of North Carolina, and another from technology marketing specialist Paul Dunay — consist of a group of marketing “Cs”: Consumer, Cost, Convenience, Content, Connection, Communication, and Conversion.

But I like a new group of “Ps” as popularized by Jennifer Howard of Google’s B-to-B market group. She offers up five new “Ps” of digital marketing, and they go a long way toward filling the yawning gaps in the original list.

These new digital marketing attributes are Pulse, Pace, Precision, Performance, and Participation.

Beyond the fact that fair dues should be given to anyone who manages to come up with an additional set of five new attributes that likewise begin with the letter “P,” they happen to be worthwhile additions to the original list, and they help bring it into the interactive era.

The new set of marketing “Ps” can be further described like this:

Pulse – active listening and attention to customer, brand and competitor insights.

Pace – the speed at which marketing campaigns are carried out is critical. “Slow and steady” usually doesn’t cut it.

Precision – assuring that marketing messages are delivered to the right customers … at the right time … and place (e.g., PC or mobile device).

Participation – creating conversations with customers via rich media ad formats and social media platforms to enable them to “join the conversation.”

Performance – meeting expectations for results that notch ever higher, via measurable and accountable marketing and media tactics.

In the world of digital marketing and e-commerce, marketers like to borrow a term from the realm of traditional retailing. It’s the “moment of truth,” and it was first coined by Procter & Gamble executives to describe those critical 10 to 20 seconds when someone is standing in a store aisle and making decisions on what to purchase and what to pass by.

In the online world, Google refers to this phenomenon as the “zero moment of truth” (ZMOT) – when a potential buyer interfaces with a brand or a product on a computer, smartphone or other digital device. Why zero? Because instead of 10 or 20 seconds, many people take only a split second to decide whether they’ll stay and engage … or whether to ditch and switch.