Let’s be honest. How many B2B content planning to-do lists start with “publish one blog a week” and end with “do a video series on X” — “oh, and maybe a webinar, too”?
Many organizations seem to take that ‘everything plus the kitchen sink’ approach, as if producing the most content possible to drive views is somehow a strategy. The thinking seems to be that content produced in-house is ‘free’, and if maybe someone, even one person, will read it, then why not?
If you’ve read my posts before, you know I don’t believe more is the answer. Why produce a mountain of content if no one is going to read it? And even if you do rack up page views or social impressions, can you be sure with your scattershot approach that any of them are your target audience? (As I’ve said many times, your Mom may be the nicest person in the world but from a business perspective you likely don’t care if she reads your content. Mom, is that you reading this blog ;)?)
B2B content planning needs to be focused and methodical: you don’t need more; you need great. So how do you get there? It starts by avoiding these pitfalls.
B2B content planning needs to be focused and methodical: you don’t need more; you need great.
Four pitfalls of B2B content planning
The list of B2B content planning pitfalls is long and differs by organization, audience, industry and more. But there are four that I consider to be fundamental — and I’ll drill down into each of them more in future posts.
Setting unclear, or too many, goals
If you want to accomplish something, you need to set a goal. It’s true for running a marathon and it’s true for creating B2B content. But what “kind” of goal?
Start by looking at your business objectives and define how content can help you reach them in a meaningful way. Does the contet you create need to position your organization or CEO as a thought leader? Does the content need to drive demand generation efforts? Make sure the goal you set for your strategy is clear and aligned.
But you also need to be careful that you don’t set too many goals. In today’s data-driven marketing, it’s easy to measure everything. That might sound like a good thing, but it can actually be a liability, because you can get lost in the weeds. It’s important to not try and measure everything. Set a single goal for each piece of content that links back to your overall content strategy goal.
Missing a unique angle for your story
Everyone loves a good story. That’s why telling stories is one of the best ways to have people remember your message. But not just any story will do. It needs to be interesting and have a unique angle. People will be less interested if they have heard it before and how will you stand out.
However, you can’t just be entertaining, you also have to be on message. I’m not suggesting each piece of content should repeat the same message, but there needs to be a connection to the overall corporate story across all your content pieces.
It’s balancing all those things that makes telling great stories in B2B marketing so hard. But, content that stands out will have a unique angle and your audience will remember it
Lacking insights into your audience
When your audience sees themselves in a story, they will be more engaged. But to write for your audience, you have to walk in their shoes. That means doing upfront research to understand their needs and challenges — not just the terminology they use. What do they face on the job every day? What do they need to be successful — and how can you help them?
To get a real feel for your audience, see if you can sit in on sales calls or even interview your buyers to get a better understanding of what they need, the questions they have and how they like to consume the content. Make sure you share the insights you gather with everyone involved in B2B content creation.
Writing for a specific audience in their language and showing you understand their needs will make all the difference. Generic pieces of content simply don’t resonate.
Trying to meet unrealistic deadlines
Creating high-quality content takes time but trying to deliver it for an unrealistic deadline may be the biggest pitfall. Companies that are preoccupied with generating more content, tend to create artificial pressure to churn it out faster too — and more times, than not, they miss the deadline because it was impossible to meet from the start.
Creating high-quality content takes time but trying to deliver it for an unrealistic deadline may be the biggest pitfall.
But equally so, if a realistic deadline has been established you can’t miss it or forget to factor in other stages of the process or resources needed. I find it useful to treat the whole content creation process as if you are working at a newspaper. Each and every day, week or month (depending on the publication) you need to get an issue out. You can’t publish a blank page. But it also has to be great content your audience wants to read and share.
If you take the focused approach and create less content, you’ll have the space to deliver on time and make it better, too.
Surviving these B2B content planning pitfalls
If you are struggling with any or all of these B2B content planning challenges, trust me, you are not alone. As I said above, in the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at each of these in more detail and proposing ways to address them that I’ve seen work in other organizations.
In the meantime, I invite you to check out the Zinc Marketing B2B Content Survival Guide, which we wrote to help marketers like you thrive in today’s B2B marketing wilderness. It’s free to download. And if you want to talk more about your challenges, we are here to help.
Download the B2B Content Survival Guide.