Research from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) states that 55 percent of content marketers rate their organization’s overall level of content marketing success in the past 12 months as moderately successful, with 29 percent saying they have been very or extremely successful.
Despite those successes, content marketers still grapple with a number of challenges. Here are three of the most common challenges and tips for overcoming them.
Finding Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
During the pandemic, a lot of people left their current organization to pursue other opportunities; leaving many companies short on SMEs, or Subject Matter Experts. Research shows that when people walk out the door, a lot of expertise and institutional knowledge goes with them if there are not rigorous processes in place to preserve, protect, and pass on technical knowledge.
Even if you do have in-house SMEs, finding someone with both technical expertise and good writing skills is no easy task. In addition, some of your more seasoned SMEs likely have full plates, and would not look with favor on a request to write a blog post or technical article to support your marketing efforts.
One way to get around this challenge is to not ask your SMEs to do the heavy writing for you. You can ask them to jot down thoughts on a subject, or list bullet points on a topic, or simply to have an interview-type conversation with you, and then use a writer to turn the source material into compelling content.
Another approach is to seek outside SMEs. CMI’s research shows that half of companies outsource at least one content marketing activity. The top challenge for B2B marketers who outsource is finding partners with adequate topical expertise.
Look on social media, such as LinkedIn, for professionals who post about topics relevant to your company. Reach out to ask if they could produce a bylined article or other content for your company. They’re in the brand-building business as well and may be inclined to help. If they can’t, maybe they can recommend someone else that would be a good fit.
You could also reach out to presenters at industry webinars or conferences, or contact experts who write for industry trade journals. Additionally, you can post on an industry or professional association a notice you are seeking SMEs.
Creating Content for Different Roles
Another challenge is creating content for multi-level roles within your target audience. It’s tempting and easier, yet ultimately ineffective, to produce “one-size-fits-all” content. If your content is not targeted to your audience’s information needs, they will ignore you. They may also ignore your brand.
Whether you create separate content for different audience roles, or address them separately within the same content piece, you can segment your audience and their needs into three types of buyers: analytical, economic, and technical.
Analytic buyers want to know they will be able to solve a problem using your products or technology. You’ll need to answer questions such as: What functions does the product perform? What are its specifications? Why is your product better than another product? Or: How does your service meet my needs?
Economic buyers want to know the financial impact in terms of return on investment for purchasing your products and services. The benefits to economic buyers might be measured in terms of expected time savings, increased efficiency, uptime, product lifespan, reliability, warranties, opportunity cost, or other factors.
The technical buyer is often behind the scenes and may not come into play early in the buy cycle. They are concerned with the bigger picture of whether your product, component or service will fit into the larger technical infrastructure, environment, or policies at their company. For example: Are your products compatible with other products the customer uses? Do your products integrate well or will modifications elsewhere be necessary? How is support provided? These questions are particularly relevant with software and hardware purchases, but also for other industrial products.
Differentiating from Your Competition
Seventy-eight percent of the most successful content marketers differentiate their content from the competition, while only 23 percent of the least successful ones do. If you can differentiate, you can stand out.
What’s required is that you zero on your unique advantages. A solid mission statement can be your source. It can help you focus on what’s unique and special about your company.
It might come down to being better, faster, or cheaper than your competition (rarely all three). But stay away from unsubstantiated claims of being the leading, the best, the first, or the most customer-focused—unless those are true advantages and you can back them up with evidence.
If so, play to those strengths in all of your content. If your differentiator is service, support, or warranty, make sure you promote those attributes in your content. If you update your products more often than your competitors do, get that message into your content.
Any company would be fortunate to be known for one differentiating factor that appeals to their customers. Find out what yours is and keep hammering away at it.