Now that we're a few months into the new year, it seems appropriate to take a stand about the payoffs of sticking with solid content marketing strategies. The beginning of the year is when a lot of B2B companies look at what they want to accomplish this year as a clean slate. Like they're starting from scratch. Kind of an "out with the old, in with the new" type of mindset.
A few drivers for this reset come to mind, and are not uncommon:
- Executives come up with new "themes" they want to see tackled.
- Company objectives may take a turn given market fluctuations or board consensus, or the CEO's new hyper interest.
- A new channel looks like a big opportunity for extending reach. Everyone's starting to jump on board and you don't want to be left behind. But that means something will have to go to make room/budget for it.
- Regulations shift, opening up a new market.
- Quotas go up.
- A new product is being introduced.
- And everyone's favorite: Budgets get slashed!
I could go on, but you know what I'm talking about. Change is normal for businesses — and not just at the beginning of the year. But, unless your B2B content marketing strategy and programs were crap last year, taking a clean slate approach is not the best response.
While you weren't looking, your buyers began expecting their experience with your brand's story to be a continuum. Not a jerky, stop and start, switch horses in mid-stride, confusing one.
This means your content marketing strategy needs to follow suit. If it's been built around the distinct value your company provides to the specific markets you serve, then it's primed to scale, shift and morph without need to start over. Room for adjustments is built in.
Before you start tossing stuff out and bringing in new stuff, determine why you're making those choices. Just because your company is changing a few things doesn't mean your buyers needs, preferences and problems have changed. If you start making shifts to your content marketing strategy without considering the difference, you could actually be tossing away more than one marketing approach vs. another.
Ask the following questions based on the internal change you're reacting to:
- Has something about your persona (buyers, customers) changed?
- Has the problem your persona is trying to solve changed?
- Has the way the industry is approaching that problem changed?
If the answer to any of those is "yes" - now you have some work to do to realign the foundation of your strategy with buyers. If the answer is "no" (which will be true in relation to most internal corporate changes) then the next step is to consider the change relative to your buyers and customers (markets).
- What parts of the change will be visible to your markets and how is it relevant to them?
- Does this change invalidate anything we've said/done in the past that would create a fragmented experience for our markets? How can we adjust for this?
- In order to achieve this new objective, what really needs to change? Why? This could include things such as process, editorial calendars, talent, timing, etc.
- Given our current marketing strategy, how can the change be holistically incorporated? Where does it fit the most seamlessly with what we're already doing?
- How will we measure, validate and report on the impact from the change?
Content marketing strategies must be designed as a continuous process that live and breathe the brand story. As such, they can be shifted, tweaked and refined based on shifts to corporate objectives. B2B marketers must stop thinking about "campaigns" in response to change. Instead, we need to think about how the change shifts the story in relation to what's most relevant to our markets.
Outside - in. Not inside - out.
Continuous and consistent. Not one-off campaigns.