Producing more and better content is now the single biggest issue for professional services firms and many other B2B companies too. Here are just some of the places it has popped up in the last few weeks; it was the number one issue for marketers at a meeting of the Association of Management Consulting Firms in NYC last month; Sourceforconsulting.com showed in a recent report that “finding something distinctive to say” is the top issue for every Tier 1 consulting firm in the UK; and a recent report from Junta 42 found that “for businesses with existing content marketing strategies, the largest challenge is producing the kind of content that engages prospects and customers”. There have been more, but you get the point.
This is becoming B2B marketing’s biggest issue because the bar is going up both on the quantity and quality of material that companies must produce. Practically every vendor selection now begins with an online search and buyers expect that they can find out a great deal about a firm, its experience and its experts before they ever need to talk with them. All of us now compete on the basis of what we have published, long before we have a chance to compete on the basis of what we propose.
The problem is that most firms’ approaches to creating content and/or thought leadership just aren’t good enough anymore. Having a writer interview a subject matter expert and pen an article is OK if, a) the competition isn’t too hot and, b) you only need to call on that SME occasionally. In the current environment, professionals are getting worn out with the demands on their time. They are often also dissatisfied with the content that emerges. Writing good B2B content is not the same as journalism – my colleague Bob touched on this in a post earlier this year. Treating it as if it is often leads to material that does not attract and engage the executives who are your potential buyers.
There are several ways to address this problem and one of them is focus. In a market that is relentlessly demanding more and better at the same time, few companies have the resources to cover everything better than everyone else. So they should pick their battles. Most firms recoil at the idea of choosing some areas to the exclusion of others, but here are a few reasons it makes sense.
- A few months spent researching one topic and deriving truly new insights will provide enough material for say 10 white papers and another 10 articles for journals, not to mention conference presentations, webinars and so on.
- Because you’ll have new insights, you’ll engage people and generate leads.
- It costs no more to do this than writing 10-20 average pieces on different topics. Research costs time and money, but once you have a compelling point of view, you can derive the collateral quickly and inexpensively.
There are other things companies can do to relieve the pressure for more and better content. And different things will suit different firms. But from what we see going on today, more focus would benefit most.