At the heart of content marketing is an unspoken agreement between you and your audience. They agree to give you some of their time. You agree to give them content that’s worthy of that time.
In your mind, each new piece of content can feel like just another in a long line of pieces you are creating. But for the person consuming that content, it’s not that at all. For them, it’s a decision on where to invest their time. They’ve made the choice to engage with you, and they have an expectation that you aren’t going to give them junk. That those 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour that they spend with your content isn’t going to be time wasted. That when they come to the end of whatever they are engaging with, they’ll have gained useful information or a new perspective to consider.
So, if that’s the expectation, are you creating content that lives up to it? Is your content high quality? It is if you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions.
Are you talking about solutions to real business problems?
First, everyone says yes to this question, but wait. Before you say yes, take an unbiased look at the content you’re creating. Where did the idea come from? If it was inspired by concerns your customers told you about when you built out buyer personas, then you’re likely creating content they’ll find valuable.
The problem is that the typical company doesn’t build its B2B content marketing strategy based on carefully researched buyer personas. Instead, they create content based on who they assume their buyer is, or they’re creating content based on strawmen they’ve built just to knock down. That first option—content based on assumptions—could occasionally hit on a real customer problem. But creating content that’s only occasionally relevant isn’t how you get someone to come back to consume content again and again. Instead, it’s an invitation for someone to engage once but disengage after subsequent disappointments.
And if all you’re doing is setting up strawmen then you’re essentially creating nothing more than product collateral. Those kinds of pieces usually end up with the product sheets and brochures. Why? Because they only talk about features and benefits, not about how customers are able to solve real problems.
Are you providing new information that’s unique to you?
I know this is true in our agency, and I assume it’s true in others: we salivate like a cartoon wolf looking at a steak when a client says they can provide original data. That’s the red meat of the marketing and PR world, and for good reason. There’s so much you can do with it.
For the PR team, it’s great fodder for earning media mentions. The press love to build stories around original findings. Unique data is an excellent ice breaker for connecting with new media members and for continuing to nurture those relationships you already have.
For the marketing team, original data is ideal for owned-media headlines. Want to drive downloads of a content piece and collect new email addresses to add to your CRM? Offer something like a study or report around the data or make it the central subject of a new and unique webinar.
Even better? Make the surveys that gather this data an annual thing. You can build real industry authority when you can look back at years of historical data and start drawing long-term conclusions from it.
Are you providing a new take on existing information?
Seemingly every organization has one—that person who seems able to pull one idea from here and a bit of data from there, mix them with the thoughts of an ancient philosopher, and create something new and unique and insightful.
It’s thought leadership in its purest form, and when it’s done well it’s really impressive. If you have someone like this inside your organization, capitalize on this asset. Use their insights to create content that will be valuable to readers. Artfully presenting a new take or unique perspective is the kind of high-quality content we are talking about. It’s valuable to the person reading it or watching it or listening to it, yes. But it’s also the kind of quality content that will keep people engaged and coming back for more.
Remember that at the end of the day, B2B content marketing is about providing value in exchange for your prospect’s or customer’s time. People will come back and continue to consume your content if they feel like that’s what they’re getting. That’s why, from ideation to execution, the content creation process has to be focused on providing real answers to real business questions, sharing new data, or original thought.