In February, I joined a panel on content marketing at the Georgia Marketing Summit, which gathered CMOs, chief brand officers, creative directors, and more from around the state to discuss the latest in marketing strategy.
It was a day that left all attendees buzzing with ideas about the future of marketing, and—for me in particular—the role content will play in it.
Here were my hottest takeaways from the day:
1. How Can We Grab (and Hold) the Attention of Busy Prospects?
We hear all the time about our customers’ short attention spans. But this choosiness doesn’t necessarily mean they only want short, easily consumable content. Today’s buyers are still willing to engage with quality long-form content, and this content is as crucial as ever to moving prospects through your funnel. But they likely won’t do so right away. The keys to success lie in how you bring prospects in and earn their undivided attention.
Today’s buyers are only willing to consume content that informs, educates, and even entertains—and they want that content to be focused on topics that address their biggest pain points. Less appealing are all the unsolicited product pitches and company ads with which they’re too often bombarded, and which are almost always devoid of any content that’s actually relevant.
To earn prospects’ precious attention at the outset, we may need to start small, delivering short-form content that piques their interest and entices them to learn more. But while this content can be on the lighter, shorter side, it should still be part of a larger story that revenue teams from marketing to sales to customer success will tell via more in-depth content throughout the entirety of a buyer’s journey.
2. How Can We Maximize Content Reuse?
Reuse is a hugely important part of any content strategy. To maximize the ROI of content, time- and resource-intensive assets especially should always be a base from which teams can borrow and repurpose to create new pieces of content.
At Siemens, we use the derivative content model for our content creation, in which a single “pillar” asset serves as a foundational piece from which other content is derived. That way, the content within a single white paper, for example, can be repurposed to create blogs, infographics, webinars, and more. Not only does this mean more efficient use of limited resources—but it also ensures our content tells a coherent story across all of our distribution channels.
To operationalize this strategy, we use a content marketing platform (Kapost) that facilitates our digital alignment, planning, collaboration, production, distribution, and analytics within a single source of truth. Using a system like this also allows marketers to incorporate reuse and repurposing into their standard workflows. Adding a task after publishing to analyze performance across strategic contexts ensures you keep track of when, where, and what content should be killed, boosted, or optimized.
Content is no longer a set-it-and-forget-it game. Now, we need to think strategically about what we allocate resources to create, and how we maximize the impact of that work.
3. Where Should Content be Distributed? What Content Belongs Where?
Too often, I see marketers consider distribution strategies based on channel trends and data rather than starting with the actual people they’re trying to reach.
To decide where your content should live and which types of material should be featured on which platforms, start with your personas. The information within your personas profiles should include notes on their preferred technology and communication styles, most frequented watering holes, and their consumption habits when it comes to media, the web, tradeshows, searches, and more.
The simple answer to where your content should be distributed? Where the people you want to consume it already are.
Of course, this information is always changing, just like the rest of your persona data. You’ll need to test, test, then test again to make sure you’re taking full, strategic advantage of your communication channels.
4. How Can B2B Marketers Be Effective Storytellers?
Over the years, the marketing world has often seen storytelling as both less significant and more difficult for the B2B marketer than their B2C counterparts. But I disagree.
Storytelling is vital no matter the solution you’re selling. Ultimately, any good product—whether it be sold quickly and directly to a consumer or over a long period of time to a buying group within an enterprise—exists to address a human need. This means that B2B content, like B2C, should always start from a place of empathy: What are we fixing, why are we fixing it, and how can we tell that story in a way that speaks our audience?
At Siemens, we’ve done this with our Digital Cities campaign, which showcases the ways our digital technologies build hometown pride. For each of the seven cities we highlighted, we created fifteen-second videos, each of which focuses on a particular way digitalization has made a difference, from heated sidewalks to smart buildings to home-grown electricity. Before we can serve up our more in-depth content, we lean on top-of-funnel storytelling to engage our audience and show them what we’re all about.