A top goal for all B2B marketers should be to constantly test new tactics, whether that means experimenting with new formats, or different approaches to content messaging and design. However, 72% of U.S. companies point to innovation as a top business challenge, as noted by research from B2B Marketing International.
Although a large fraction of the 227 marketing decision makers surveyed said they had issues with global expansion (31%) and internal resources (27%), most of the respondents (56%) faced the most issues with their brand and marketing communications. Components under the brand and marketing communications umbrella include:
- Having an effectively communications strategy (16%)
- Increasing brand awareness (16%)
- Brand development and positioning (10%)
- Enhancing value perception among customers (10%)
- Digital marketing (4%)
This research points to an interesting takeaway: content marketing budgets have increased consistently year over year, but it is clear that many B2B firms are focusing on the “same old,” rather than pushing their marketing limits. Here are a few tips and ideas that I derived from this survey data. Hopefully they inspire you to prioritize innovation and discover some new things:
- Buyers first, brand second: The cornerstone of an effective communications strategy is understanding your target customers, their goals and what keeps them up at night. In fact, this is the foundation for creating powerful content. Use buyer insights to develop core messaging points and takeaways for your content and campaigns. This alone will help address several of the brand/marketing communication challenges outlined above. Understanding your target buyers also can help you prioritize content formats and approaches. For example, you may find that a certain audience prefers more interactive content formats, while others prefer shorter, more tactical pieces.
- Tell a great story: Content marketing isn’t just about communicating a set of bullet points, takeaways or best practices tied to specific solutions. Like a Tony Award-winning play or critically acclaimed film, great content tells a great story. If you want some great tips on how to develop a compelling marketing story, check out this blog, which features some insights from Pixar.
- Take chances: Don’t get me wrong. It’s very important to make smart decisions, especially when it comes to content marketing. Money, nor time, grows on trees, so you need to focus on projects that will benefit your business and address your goals. But the reality is, you won’t know what is truly beneficial unless you try new things! As you develop your content marketing plans, think of how you can test something new, whether it’s a new content format, design theme or writing style. Then, compare the results of the new content with previous campaigns by tracking social shares, downloads and other metrics. You can gain a great perspective into whether you should create more content that takes a similar approach, or if you should should move on.
- Fail fast: The size and structure of your company impacts how you define “failing fast” and definitely impacts how often you can test new content marketing strategies. Regardless, take each test as a learning experience. If something fails, try and garner a few lessons learned and see how you can apply them to future campaigns.
Is innovation a priority for your organization? Have you implemented any interesting tests or garnered any lessons learned as a result? Share your thoughts, opinions and experiences in the comments section below!
Alicia Fiorletta is a Content Strategist for Content4Demand. In addition to writing for and managing the C4D blog, she helps clients identify new content marketing ideas and experiment with innovative formats. Fiorletta is a fan of all things digital and interactive, and uses the art of ideation to help clients see the content marketing possibilities. She also helps G3 Communications’ family of brands plan and execute killer events and ramp up their cross-channel marketing results. When she’s not dwelling over all things branding, messaging and content strategy, she’s spending quality time with her nieces and nephews, binging on Netflix or eating guacamole.