Content Marketing Strategy series for large B2B and B2C enterprises

Content Marketing Strategy for B2B and B2C enterprises

Short summary of where I am with my strategy series posts. While most of it has been created with a clear B2B vision in mind, the Content Marketing programs I am following in NewsCred can confirm that the majority of it is 100% applicable to B2C cases.

Here is the latest list:

Why Enterprises need a Content Marketing Platform to address content chaos

I have been designing content marketing strategy in large B2B enterprises for the last few years. If I have to list the top challenges I have had with its implementation there is no doubt that the first was a missing Content Marketing Software Platform. Other major challenges were, in order: 1) setting up proper analytic and 2) moving our content strategy from central pilots to global deployment (see my post on NewsCred Insights).

Our complex marketing technology stack, heritage of endless company acquisitions and integration, miss in fact this critical piece: we had to invest a relevant amount of time thinking at how to replace all processes and functions that a content marketing platform could offer: content creation, content curation, planning, editorial calendar, workflow management, publishing, internal and external content distribution, analytics, and last but not least, intelligence.

There has been a mind-numbing proliferation of technology vendors and solutions to address the needs of content and digital marketers in the last few years. For instance, Curata’s content marketing tools map has increased from 40 to over 130 vendors in its most recent version. NewsCred too has helped navigating across the ocean of marketing technologies with one of its latest posts. Mergers and acquisitions have contributed to make things even more complex.

Now, let’s go back to the basics for a moment, and let’s define what a content marketing platform is. The latest Forrester’s Wave report on Content Marketing Platforms (end of 2015) provides some clarity (note: the report has restricted access).

To address this challenge (the challenge of the enterprise’s content chaos), several technology vendors have developed a single software platform for all involved parties to collaborate on the strategy behind the content and its planning, creation, and distribution; these are called content marketing platforms (CMPs):
 
[Definition] Content marketing platforms are solutions that help marketing teams collaborate on a content strategy, orchestrate the numerous, concurrent streams of activity by content creators, curators, and distributors inside and outside of the company, and optimize downstream cross-channel distribution to key audiences.

Forrester Wave’s report further clarifies the need for a CMP: CMPs, the report affirms, are a “nascent category of marketing technology stack”, and are quickly growing to provide:

  • A single environment for teams to collaborate on content for all phases of customer life cycle
  • A replacement for Excel and email and facilitate collaboration across organizational silos
  • A place to aggregate data, content, and metrics from many sources

A Content Marketing Platform is this, and much more. CMPs act as a glue among several enterprise technologies managing content, distribution, analytics, pipeline (which is in general the primary goals of all B2B marketers) and insights, one of the new frontiers for such kind of software platforms. It is clear why CMPs have a central role and integrate several pieces of the marketing technology stack.

Where a CMP is supposed to be located within a full marketing stack? Curata introduces the “Emergence of the Content Marketing Platform”:

Sales Force Automation platforms fuel revenue by tracking and supplying sales opportunities and leads. Marketing Automation Platforms drive Sales Force Automation by supplying marketing qualified leads. But what drives the marketing activities and leads of Marketing Automation Platforms? Content. Like a car without gas, marketing automation can’t get very far without content. Content is needed for everything from a website (which is tracked by marketing automation), to email campaigns, to even pay-per-click landing page offers.

Many of today’s content marketers have little accountability and transparency in terms of how their content is performing. Their content is often warehoused and stored in multiple disparate systems and spreadsheets. That’s why a CMP is required.

Now, regardless the market studies you will look at and the marketing domain you belong to (business or consumer) content marketers have common evergreen challenges (source: Curata):

  • Limited budget for staff and program spend;
  • Creating enough quality content on a regular basis, whether in-house or externally sourced;
  • Distributing content across multiple channels, including publication and promotion;
  • Measuring the impact of content, i.e., what works and what doesn’t work to drive awareness, leads and sales enablement.

CMPs help marketers addressing all of them.

Back to my past experience and projects, as soon as we recognized the need for a CMP for our organization, we started to list all requirements for the “perfect CMP”. We segmented the requirements in six main categories, which I list here below. Using this simple and repeatable methodology, we evaluated several vendors.

(Download the CMP requirements in table format)

1) Content Development and Workflow Management

  • Workflow management capabilities
  • Ability to create different workflows based on content type and link those worklows to campaigns
  • Ability to view all assets & status of assets related to a specific campaign
  • Attach to asset and campaign name additional information such as persona, asset type, brand attribute
  • Ability to send emails to content owners, content requestor or project managers about changing status of developed asset
  • Ability to send emails to task owners informing them of task and work assigned
  • Ability to provide workflow capabilities for translation and associate workflow to master assets, campaigns etc.

2) Editorial Calendar

  • Editorial calendar management
  • Capability to view content development requests by content type, campaign and persona, where contributors can view tasks assigned
  • Ability to share internally the editorial calendar
  • Ability to view production and publication calendars

3) Content Management

  • WYSIWYG editor for direct publishing, meeting requirements to publish to blogs and major social media platforms
  • Ability to manage all content development requests: ebook, infographic, whitepapers, rich media content

4) Integration with existing stack and Distribution functionality

  • Ideally connect to company’s DAM to pick up imagery and post content
  • Ability to integrate with blog platforms (e.g. WordPress)
  • Ability to connect to existing email platforms for content to be emailed as part of newsletter
  • Ability to integrate with corporate web CMS
  • Ability to connect to Marketing Automation platforms (e.g. Marketo, Eloqua, etc.) for reporting information as well as to send content to be distributed via email or on landing page
  • Ability to connect to CRMs (e.g. SalesForce)
  • Ability to connect to social media publishing tools (e.g. Sprinklr)
  • Sales enablement: ability to provide shared content to sales

5) Analytics and Insights

  • Content Performance – Content Pipeline contribution
  • Top performing content list by persona, by campaign , by brand attribute
  • Amplification and engagement rate on content whether or not we use the CMP platform for distribution
  • Internal consumption: which content assets are most used by sales and in which part of the buying process
  • Localization rate: how many content assets have been internally consumed and localized
  • External consumption: which content are customers consuming in which part of the buying cycle
  • Insights and recommendations

6) Mobile app

  • Availability as app for Smartphones and Tablets

There is not a single way to evaluate the best fit for your organization. All starts with your company/division objectives. In our case support for our content marketing strategy and in addition integration with the existing stack, support to existing internal processes and analytics were the main goals and then main criteria for selection.

A few months ago I created a comprehensive post outlining an twelve-step Content Marketing strategy. That’s exactly what the implementation of a CMP will support.

Step 1: The Case for Change
Step 2: Finding the Optimal Balance Between Central and Local
Step 3: Editorial Process- the Content Editorial Board and the Content Ecosystem
Step 4: Global and local audience persona, buyer journey and content map
Step 5: Alignment with your company’s Brand story
Step 6: Selecting a Content Hub and Content Marketing Platform
Step 7: Distribution channel strategy – distribution and amplification
Step 8: The POEM Model -Paid drives Owned which drives Earned Media (aka: How to integrate Public Relations with your B2B Content Marketing Strategy)
Step 9: Launching an Internal Communications Strategy
Step 10: Piloting Your Content Marketing Strategy
Step 11: Measurement and Optimization
Step 12: Finally, Going Global

A CMP will definitely address and support most of the points above, and as a consequence, the overall content strategy.

One more piece of the B2B Content Marketing Strategy series

A few days ago I wrote the post “How to integrate Public Relations into your B2B Content Marketing strategy“, which is an additional piece of my broader series about Global B2B Content Marketing Strategy, dissected in 13 steps (I know, I should change that number; I will add or remove some of the steps…):

Step 1: The Case for Change
Step 2: Finding the Optimal Balance Between Central and Local
Step 3: (Editorial Process) Why your Company needs an Editorial Board to empower its Content Strategy
Step 4: Defining Local Target Personas
Step 5: Selecting a Content Hub – why Blogs are still at the core of your Content Marketing Strategy
Step 6: Selecting a Content Marketing Platform
Step 7: Launching Big Rock content
Step 8: Content Distribution
Step 9: How to integrate Public Relations with your B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Step 10: Launching an Internal Communications Strategy
Step 11: Educating Marketers About Your Content Marketing Program
Step 12: Piloting Your Content Marketing Strategy
Step 13: Finally, Going Global

In addition, here are a few short summaries, for readers who will prefer shorter/faster readings:

B2B Content Marketing Strategy guide in 10 easy steps

How to Launch a B2B, Cross-Regional Global Content Marketing Strategy – published on NewsCred’s Insights in November 2016

globe

How Content Increased the Effectiveness of Our B2B Enterprise Marketing by 3x – published on Contently’s Content Strategist blog

B2B_content_journey

Speaker at Content Marketing World 2017!

Long time without writing on the blog. I am just back from New England, some new things happening, unfortunately not so much time to write and share. Best news of the day: I’ve been selected to speak at next Content Marketing World , taking place in Cleveland on Sept 6-7. It’s the largest and most crowded content marketing conference of the world. I will be speaking about how to define a global content marketing strategy with examples and best practices from my company. I plan to bring testimonials or videos from the countries. It’s going to be a fantastic event and I am so happy to be “on board”!

Gartner 2016 Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Adverts

Gartner has presented yesterday the latest combined Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Adverts. While the positions of some of the technologies are questionable it is still interesting to have a look.

Hype, by definition should make us all a little wary. Gartner Hype Cycles are designed to help sift, sort and qualify hype and manage our attraction to all those bright shiny marketing objects. The ultimate aim is to support decisions on where your valuable attention and marketing resources should be directed

Charge 2016

A few tweets from Charge 2016. Great experience, awesome speakers and organisation and a magic location.

Podcast: How Schneider Electric Builds Content Marketing Around Big Rocks

I already wrote about my new podcast – FIR (For Immediate Release) B2B, with @pgillin and @dstrom. Well, here is the summary. And the podcast, in case you have some time for listening B2B content marketing stuff.

We flagged down Giuseppe Caltabiano after we saw this story in Contently about Schneider Electric’s B2B content marketing efforts (and especially its Energy University education resource). Giuseppe joined Schneider’s Data Center division about a year ago to unify its prolific but fragmented content marketing effort. Since then, the company has reduced the number of steering committees from five to one and reduced the amount of content the company producing but deployed it more strategically.

Schneider employs what Giuseppe calls a “big rock” strategy centered around anchor feature topics that generate content that can be repackaged and reused in multiple formats and on multiple platforms. “Content leads to three times as many downloads as traditional marketing campaigns,” Giuseppe writes. And leads who engage via content are, by definition, more engaged.

In this week’s podcast, Giuseppe talks about the importance of having a strategy, focusing resources, sticking with your editorial calendar and failing fast.

FoM, agenda at a glance

My session has just been added to the Festival of Marketing’s “agenda at a glance” section.

Content Marketing Strategy for B2B Businesses: A Guide in 10 Easy Steps

  • Dispelling the theory that B2C is ahead of B2B in its use of  content marketing
  • How to transform your marketing strategy from the traditional to the future
  • Why content listening, why now?
  • Understanding the Audience persona, buyer journey and content mapping
  • The importance of making a content editorial board the core of your content transformation

My Content Marketing podcast with Elliot Polak

Note. This post has been originally published by Elliot Polak on Textappeal’s blog. Podcast can be found on Soundcloud.

The Masters and Mavericks podcast, hosted by Textappeal and Newsroom founder Elliot Polak, is a dedicated portal for discussing global content marketing, global social media strategies, and other means of propagating a company’s message across the world. The monthly discussion focuses on highlighting organisations and individuals who are disrupting the natural order of things and bringing new concepts, strategies, and ideas to the market.

On this month’s programme, Elliot sat down with Giuseppe Caltabiano, the Vice President of Marketing Integration at Schneider Electric. His expertise in marketing stretches back nearly 20 years and is built upon a background in engineering. During his career, Giuseppe has managed various teams in the fields of energy, technology, software, and more, making his knowledge and experience rich and ripe for deep sharing and insights.

Elliot-Polak-and-Giuseppe-Caltabiano-at-the-Masters-and-Mavericks-podcast

It can be argued that social media and global content marketing are more geared towards B2C companies, and B2B businesses are really still figuring out how to use these tactics. Giuseppe explained that these strategies have driven massive growth for B2B business in the social and global content marketing arenas and B2B companies are actually now adopting these methods faster than the B2C sector. The main difference between the two models is that B2C messaging is more emotionally driven, whereas B2B focuses on the value provided.

As for the sector that Giuseppe serves, he has found that Twitter and Linkedin are powerful platforms for B2B global content marketing and social media engagement. Additionally, resources like SlideShare and podcasts are fantastic platforms for driving traffic.

While the materials developed for these platforms are generated in English by a global team, packages are put together and localised for other countries. Currently, his company’s blog is marketed in seven different languages and reaches about 15 different countries. As conversations emerge from this content, his team does not try to control the dialogue as that is best handled at the local level. Giuseppe’s company merely facilitates content which is handled as an 80/20 model. Eighty percent of content is generated at a global level and 20% is local. The reason for this, as Giuseppe explained, is that, “Not all the content generated at a global level will work. Different sectors [and] different customers need different approaches and even different social media platforms.”

Since this model has been quite successful for Schneider, Giuseppe offered up some words of wisdom to fellow marketers on what to keep in mind to replicate similar results. First is to document every aspect of a marketing strategy; this means putting on paper the content marketing strategy, social media plans, marketing blueprints, and every other component. While B2B marketers say they are adopting global content marketing, only about half are actually documenting their plans. “Without documentation you will simply fail.”

Giuseppe generously shared a lot more advice for marketers entering into content marketing, including metrics that will resonate with management, how to optimize global content marketing efforts, and various other insights. Check out the full podcast for this valuable guidance and recommendations.

Elliot-and-Giuseppe-Caltabiano-at-Schneider-Electric

Content Marketing Strategy in a Large B2B Enterprise: a Guide in 10 Easy Steps

This post reflects (or, at least, tries to reflect) the speech that I will give at Content Marketing Fast Forward (CMFF) in a few hours.

CMIMarketing InsiderContent Strategist and many others are my undisputed sources of inspiration. Also, I have combined several posts and refreshed the entire package based on my day-to-day experience gained in the last 10 months at Schneider Electric. Happy reading!

B2B firms no longer tend to be concerned that their solutions aren’t attractive enough for content marketing. Content Marketing discipline has been adopted in fact by B2B firms at faster speed than their counterparts in B2C. So, if you work in B2B, how can you transform your marketing strategy from an outdated traditional to a modern and successful content marketing model aligned with company growth and business goals? This can be done through proper content marketing strategy, integration of content, social media and PR and a deep transformation of the overall marketing model, using marketing technologies and tools. Technology’s influence spans all industries and continues to change and revolutionize everything it touches. The content-marketing industry is no exception.

Traditional marketing has always been about pushing company products and services in front of the audience. Content Marketing is about meeting the informational needs of potential customers so they become interested in you. In the last few months I have been working on a content marketing strategy that is changing the approach of my division, moving from an advanced but traditional to a new, modern, content marketing model. The new model will introduce elements of uniqueness, like the Division editorial board and the editorial calendar – many boards and many calendars were in place before the transformation. It will seamlessly integrate content, social media and PR, used to be disconnected and misaligned. It will make advantage of the latest marketing technologies for content management, distribution and analytics.

Based on a definition from Content Marketing Institute (CMI) “Content Marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Why do large enterprises need a content marketing strategy today? For the same reasons why small and medium firms do. Content marketing is about creating interesting information your customers are passionate about so they actually pay attention to you. With content’s high adoption rates (+27 million pieces of contents shared every day), there is great potential to provide measurable business benefits, and enterprise-wide appeal.  A strategic content marketing program is virtually essential to staying competitive in today’s marketplace.

A content marketing strategy has to be documented. Based on research from Content Marketing Institute, firms with a properly documented marketing strategy are far more likely to consider themselves effective at content marketing and are able to justify spending a higher percentage of their marketing budget on content marketing.

I think there is a tendency to overcomplicate the strategy definition process. So, I have put together a simple list. A well prepared content marketing strategy should include (at least) the following elements:

1. The case for change/innovation

Firms need to assess the situation “as is” today and start thinking about a “to be” model, based on objectives and medium/long term vision. Content Marketers have to communicate reasons for adopting a content marketing discipline moving away from a traditional model, the risks involved, and the vision of what success will look like. This is more likely to gain executive and functional support for your strategy. Typical reasons for a change can be summarised as below:

  • Increase marketing-generated opportunities. This is an evergreen reason and will provide immediate attention from management; numbers and results coming from a pilot will make the case even stronger;
  • Simplify an existing disconnected content creation and management model;
  • Fix a broken distribution model. Geographical adoption and distribution represents a big challenge today in large enterprises;
  • Align social media and PR. This is often a need in large enterprises where the 2 functions are visibly disconnected

2. The business plan for content marketing and its mission

This point covers the goals you have for your content program, the unique value the firm is looking to provide through content, and the details of its business model. It also should outline the obstacles and opportunities you may encounter as you execute your plan. In addition, the mission of your content marketing strategy has to be clearly expressed and should be included in all documentation.

3. Editorial Process – the Content Editorial Board and the Content Ecosystem

The business plan has to stand side by side with an internal transformation. In fact, today’s marketing organizations are barely designed to properly support a content marketing strategy.  The content editorial board is the core of your transformation. The board has to handle all content-related requests and issues, has to define internal communication and distribution plan and the distribution/ amplification strategy. In large organizations the editorial board has the key role of alignment and coordination between several division and content sources.

The board has to manage the content ecosystem: the combination of internal content sources, bloggers, agencies and freelances that will support your editorial efforts. External sources have to be educated and in some large firms certified, in order to be part of your ecosystem.

The editorial calendar is much more than just a calendar with content assigned to dates. A good editorial calendar maps content production to the audience persona and the phases of the buyer journey. Ultimately, the editorial calendar is your most powerful tool as a content marketer. Without a plan, an editorial board and editorial calendar, nothing will happen.

Also, you can’t have a proper content strategy without technology and tools to manage and enable it. And the best tools are the ones that combine a content marketing platform with workflow, calendar, publication and distribution functionalities (Content Marketing Platforms, or CMPs). Content Marketing Platform software like Newscred, Contently, Percolate and Kapost let marketers combine most of the requested functionalities under the same tool. The board is key for a proper tool adoption.

4. Audience persona, buyer journey and content map

This is where you analyse the audience for whom you will create content, what their needs are, and what their content engagement cycle might look like. You may also want to map out content you can deliver throughout their buyer’s journey in order to move them closer to their goals (and your bottom of the funnel).

This is a critical point. The entire content marketing strategy is based on persona and buyer cycle, so the selection of a proper set of personas (representative of your full customer pool) and a deep understanding of each one’s cycle (and the content consumed at each phase of the cycles) represents the core of your strategy.

You might want to use internal resources and customer insights for mapping persona and buyer journeys. Or you might prefer using external sources/partners, especially for new markets.

5. Alignment with your company’s Brand story

Here, you characterize your content marketing in terms of what ideas and messages you want to communicate, how do they are connected with your brand(s) story, how those messages differ from the competition, and how you see the landscape evolving once you have shared them with your audience. For instance, this is my company brand story: working on a content marketing strategy we’ve secured that values and messages of our brand are reflected in all new content created.

6. Distribution channel strategy – distribution and amplification

Content marketing strategy comes first, followed by channel distribution strategy. But as content marketers, it is your responsibility to look at all available channels to tell your stories and adapt contents based on the channels. These include: the technology platforms you will use to tell and distribute your story, what your criteria, processes, and objectives are for each one, and how you will connect them so that they create a cohesive conversation.

Today, the most innovative and forward-thinking companies have merged content, social and PR “channels”. By doing so, they can capitalize on the synergies between these three.

7. The POEM Model -Paid vs. Owned vs. Earned Media

In the past, we only used paid and earned media, the traditional PR. With the advent of the Web, we used more earned media and when blogs and social media popped up, we also started talking about “owned media”. It became even more important when brands started to realize they could “act as publishers”. A convergence of paid, earned, and owned media helped create a profitable content marketing strategy that led us to start thinking about content in a whole new way while putting an end to “interruptive” advertising.

8. Big Rock and the Thanksgiving Content Marketing Analogies

One of the most effective ways to make advantage of this media convergence is using the “Big Rock and Turkey Slices” discipline applied to Content Marketing. The idea is to look for opportunities to repurpose existing content – exactly as you’re repurposing thanksgiving food for some time. The analogy comes from an interview to Rebecca Lieb. When asked about tips for companies who are struggling to produce enough content, she replied:

I use a Thanksgiving analogy. You cook up this giant bird to serve up on one glorious occasion and then proceed to slice and dice this thing for weeks on end. If you are like most families you are going to be repurposing this bird as leftovers for quite some time. Your content marketing strategy can be thought of in the same way.”

The idea here is basic, but straight forward: marketer have to look for opportunities to repurpose the content that they already have. For instance, eBooks can be repurposed into infographics, SlideShare presentations, blog posts, video and then disseminated via social media channels. This tactics will make advantage of owned media, paid and will generate earned media exposure. This concept can be taken a step further and applied to “Big Rock” pieces of contents . Big Rock is a substantial piece of content based on the idea of becoming the definitive guide to a conversation that you want to own. The idea is to develop an all-encompassing guide to whatever your keywords or themes are which is written strategically instead of instructionally. This type of content is very top of funnel and can serve many purposes such as SEO, fuel for social and lead generation, sales enablement, and event collateral to name a few. Big Rock should be launched with the same emphasis of a new product.

Jason Miller, Content Leader at LinkedIn, uses the Big Rock analogy in his book “Welcome to the Funnel”. Posts about Big Rock concept can be found here and here. Thanksgiving analogy for content marketing has been discussed here.

9. Measurement and Optimization

Everything you measure needs to start with an objective.

Dashboard and KPIs have to be in place in order to measure results and facilitate decisions. Until a few years ago, the ability to track real ROI from one piece of content was virtually non-existent. Now, all that has changed. Marketing automation tools like HubSpot, Marketo and ActOn let marketers track which content gains the most engagement, leads and revenue.

10. The role of Pilots

In large enterprises, running pilot programs to test and prove viability, not deliver an agreed outcome, is common practice. All you need to do is to set up the pilot as a test, and then, if it’s successful, roll ahead with the series. Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds, so you need to start small, test that your strategy works, get first figures, create a proper business case, and then go back to your management and move to the next step.

From Joe Pulizzi’s Epic Content MarketingContent marketing success takes time. Just because you develop a couple of really great articles or blog posts or videos doesn’t mean you’ll convert a lead to a sales opportunity tomorrow. Give it enough time to make a difference. For example, if your sales cycle is typically nine months, deploying a content marketing pilot across one quarter will not demonstrate the results the program can achieve. Content marketing is not a campaign with a start and stop date.

Right. Content Marketing is not a campaign with a start and stop date and will take time. This is even more true for large enterprises, where traditional marketing models might prevent need for change being understood in time.

As a conclusion, you might not be an expert B2B content marketer but you can diligently plan and document your strategy. In some cases you will need to re-design your organization to be aligned with the strategy and to make things happen. Gone are the days of content marketing simply being a fancy term for articles and press releases. Now, companies can easily create media contents, videos, infographics, podcasts and other value-adds  for a well-integrated content marketing strategy.

Furthermore, the way companies use marketing technology to manage content and workflow, and combine original and syndicated content in a community style is unique and indicative of the future of marketing.