Tone up your B2B Content Strategy: 5 Exercises to do Today

March 12, 2016

Editor's Note: This post was contributed by Jada Cash, Content Strategist & Sr. Copywriter at LoSasso Integrated Marketing in Chicago, Ill. Whether launching new brands or reinvigorating old ones, she’s helped several large global clients bring to market cohesive messaging, exciting creative and targeted content plans.

If you feel like screaming every time you hear the phrase, “Content is King,” you’re not alone. For me, the revulsion isn’t born of its overuse, but rather its misuse. In fact, only a fraction of the world’s digital content wears the crown: the kind that’s carefully planned, masterfully distributed, and diligently measured and optimized.

Like Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi, I too fear we’re headed toward a harsh reality check: Hastily churning out blog, video and social media content is not the silver bullet for marketing success.

Don’t click out of that WordPress admin dashboard just yet, though. While B2B content marketing success takes preparation, dedication and stamina, there are things you can do to make an impact today. We’ve put together a simple (and free) content planning workbook full of practical exercises to help you put an end to knee-jerk content execution—and set your content up for the win. Here’s a snapshot of some of the important takeaways:

1. Get integrated

Remember this foundational philosophy: Content isn’t a muscle in our body of digital marketing—it’s the sustenance we need to grow it. In other words, if content is lifeblood that feeds ALL of our digital marketing efforts, it can only thrive with integration into the bigger picture. Don’t silo it as a separate line item—instead, factor content production into your paid media, website maintenance, lead nurture and social media budgets. Hammering this practice into the heads of your team members, superiors, clients, etc. is the first step toward greater success.

2. Identify the driving forces of your content machine

Any creative director worth her salt would scoff at a brief without clearly defined business objectives, audiences and brand positioning background. Yet day-to-day content creation is all to often void of these crucial, big-picture methodologies. Spend a few hours identifying what’s happening at your company now (current marketing programs and objectives); who’s listening (your target audiences); what’s in your special sauce (your brand differentiators) and what’s currently working (in terms of content, for both your company, and the industry at large). Having these things clearly defined makes for a more targeted content plan. Target audiences are particularly important—if you haven’t nailed down what motivates the people you’re selling to, any content marketing is wasted effort.

3. Zero in on your content types and distribution channels

Snapchat has caught fire among big consumer brands—but that doesn’t mean you should jump on the bandwagon. The driving forces you outlined in the previous exercise will help you establish guiderails when it comes to the type of content you’ll produce and how you’ll distribute it. Are the content types and distribution channels aligned with your current marketing programs and objectives? Are they a good fit for your targets? This is also a good time to take stock of where your content will live. Is your website set up to successfully house your articles, videos and e-books? Churning out content without getting your digital house in order first is like hanging a Monet in ramshackle trailer.

4. Focus on sales funnel fitness

The best content plans hit buyers at all stages of the sales funnel. A good mix is important, but it might be necessary to devote extra resources to stages of the funnel in which your company is struggling or missing opportunities. Top-funnel content helps attract with high-level, general-interest pieces that represent your brand, but aren’t overtly promotional or product specific; mid-funnel content helps engage and nurture buyers with information about the product/service category and brand differentiators; low-funnel content helps convert prospects with more technical information that makes them confident in their purchase decision; and last but not least, content aimed at the post-purchase stage can add value, maintain customer engagement and provide up-selling opportunities.

5. Talk to your analytics manager

If you’re working through these exercises today, measuring your content might seem like a dot on the horizon line. But it’s never too early to loop your analytics team into your content planning. Establishing goals and tracking for your content requires some upfront thought and setup, so now’s the time to start the conversation. When it comes time to measure and optimize your content campaigns, you’ll be golden.

Want more actionable exercises to help you conquer content marketing this year? The Content Strategist’s Workout Plan is a free workbook with everything you need to get started.

Stay in shape for content marketing success! For more tips to keep your team's strategy toned all year long, subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog.