By Michele Linn published October 20, 2013

How to Overcome the B2B Content Marketing Time Crunch

b2b research roundtable part 2 screenshotIf you are like 69 percent of B2B content marketing professionals, you feel challenged by a lack of enough time — in fact, 30 percent of content marketers consider this to be their greatest challenge. As someone who lives and breathes in the content marketing space, I can relate to feeling overwhelmed. But is this reported time crunch a legitimate excuse for failing to realize the full potential of content, or just a way to justify a lack of optimal success?

In a continuing roundtable series focused on the newest B2B content marketing research from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, industry experts Ardath Albee, Michael Brenner, Carla Johnson, Michael Weiss, and Todd Wheatland discuss the validity of this challenge. A huge thanks to Shiri Friedman from Brightcove for moderating this discussion. 

 

 


On one hand, as Michael Weiss points out:

I think a lack of time is an excuse. I think it’s easy to say, ‘We’re not getting it done. Why? Because I don’t have the time.’ And I also think that bleeds into, ‘I don’t have the resources; I don’t have the skill set; and I really don’t know what I’m doing. ‘ 

But Ardath Albee shared a more sympathetic point of view:

Marketers already had a full plate, and then we said, ‘Okay, now you get to do content marketing,’ which is arguably different than all the other things they have been doing. 

Excuse or not, in any given day, content marketers have a lot of responsibilities — and myriad considerations to oversee. So what can content marketers do to feel less overwhelmed, and more prepared to face the everyday challenges of B2B content marketing?

Have a strategy

Without question (and our research backs this up), those with a documented content marketing strategy are more effective than those without. They are even more effective than those who have a dedicated person to oversee strategy.

Have clearly outlined goals

Do you know what business goal your content marketing is trying to achieve? If not, stop and figure that out before you do anything else. Seriously. Stop. Right. Here. If you don’t know what you expect your content marketing efforts to accomplish, not only will you not get there, but you’ll waste a lot of time on efforts that may take you in the wrong direction. As Carla Johnson aptly states:

Without that North Star to know where you’re heading, you’re just busy — not necessarily productive.

Your key metrics should always be top-of-mind, so you can continually evaluate whether your content marketing is supporting your overarching goals. If it isn’t, you need to reconsider your content priorities.

Focus on the right things

Though it’s essential to track and evaluate your content marketing results so you can make continual improvements, it’s easy to feel analysis paralysis. In a recent #CMWorld Twitter chat about analytics, Neil Horowitz (@njh287) imparted this gem:

Wise words – ‘Not all insights are actionable. Not all data is insightful.’ #cmworld 

In short, figure out which data are truly meaningful for you to collect, and focus on them. At CMI, we track our KPIs monthly and share them across our team via a Google spreadsheet. The metrics we track have changed over time — we have added some when we were looking for more information, and removed some when the trends were not that variant. But, having this spreadsheet in place helps us stay on the same page and reduces the time I spend simply surfing for information that may be interesting, but not actionable.

Remember that content marketing is part of your larger marketing strategy

Instead of thinking about content marketing as one more thing you need to do, consider how it can enhance all aspects of your marketing. As Robert Rose explains:

This means looking at our existing marketing tactics and seeing how we might infuse them with content marketing techniques. It means looking at our measurement practices and searching for ways to abandon the myopic drive for only ‘more transactions’ in favor of efforts that give us insight into how to engage more valuable customers, more retained customers, and more passionate brand subscribers. It means asking ‘why’ — a lot! 

By contextualizing your content marketing as part of your larger program, you’ll be able to see how you can be more efficient — and impact your customers in more positive ways.

Have a system in place

I love this sentiment from Roger Parker, which he shared in his post, 3 Tips for Increasing Your Content Productivity:

Under the right circumstances, many professionals are capable of preparing great content for blogs, books, and online sign-up incentives. But only a few can consistently produce quality marketing content on a daily basis. 

As Roger suggests, you need to have systems in place so you can produce content on a consistent basis. His three suggestions for achieving this include:

  • Studying the right examples
  • Choosing the right tools
  • Mastering the right habits

What other tips do you have for being more productive — rather than just busy — when it comes to content marketing? Share them in the comments below.

View the other videos in this roundtable discussion:

You can also see more results from our B2B content marketing research, visit CMI’s Research Page.

Author: Michele Linn

Michele is the Vice President of Content at the Content Marketing Institute. She is one of those people who truly loves what she does and who she works with. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

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  • bobscheier

    I have found similar complaints (lack of time) from my clients, and can vouch for it myself. Your advice to set a goal and follow a strategy for meeting it rings very, very true, but in a way gets back to the same problem: Who has time to sit down and develop a strategy, especially when the ROI is unclear or in the indeterminate future?

    Maybe the answer is starting small: “Let’s see if we can get five new clients over the next six months spending five hours per week following a specific strategy for everything from content generation to sharing and learning from others/”

    Thoughts?

    • http://www.referralcandy.com/ ReferralCandy

      Yes, I think starting small is a very good point. Apart from coming up with a strategy of what to do, I think it’s crucial that we do not stuff our plates full with everything that we think we “need” to lock down.

      Like you said, start small; and don’t worry excessively about not investing time in the other things. Focus on a few things at once, do them well, try and see if they work, then move on.

      This should help us preserve our sanity!
      -Hum

      • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

        I agree about starting small and trying to do what you do as well as you can do it. The rewards are far greater — and it is less stressful.

        In terms of finding time for a strategy . . . While it is ideal to be able to document your strategy — which can oftentimes be a matter of sitting down and doing this — I understand other priorities can often take over. At the very least, I suggest defining two things:

        1) Who is your *core* audience? Be more specific than not.

        2) What is your mission statement? (More on this can be found here: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2012/10/content-marketing-mission-statement-2/)

        Then, judge everything you do by these two lenses: Does it help your core audience and does it support your mission? The intersection of these two things is your sweet spot.

        Thanks for adding to the conversation!

        • http://www.referralcandy.com/ ReferralCandy

          Hey, that’s great advice! Defining and focusing on those two points you stated would certainly help to keep us grounded and focused, so we don’t get swept away by the other peripheral stuff.

          Everything should be done for a reason, and with some proper planning.

          Thanks for your reply!
          -Hum

  • Greg Bardwell

    Another kicker, is that when you do have a plan (and you need one) it is even harder and more time consuming to execute. There are a 1000 tools to help, but there is a 1000 tasks that need doing repeatedly.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Hi Greg,
      If I am understanding you correctly, are you saying that is more difficult to execute content marketing when you have a plan because you realize everything you need to do?

      • Greg Bardwell

        Hi Michele, yes, that is correct. All goes back to the strategy as you recent survey and themes suggest. We sell software and have found that if people are not executing to a strategy their efforts are haphazard, sporadic, and usually do not give them the results they hope. Thus the phrase, “Hope is not a strategy.” So yes, a measurable, organized consistent content marketing strategy is more work — you have a organized measurable task to execute and repeat. As you know that is what leads to long-term success.

        • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

          Fantastic point!

  • Henley Wing

    “Studying the right examples”

    How exactly do you find these right examples to study? Do you look at your competitors and see what content they’re doing, and compare that with yours?

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Hi Henley,

      I would actually study things outside or your industry so you are different than your competitors (As a blatent plug, you can download CMI’s 100 Content Marketing Examples: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/education/ultimate-ebook-100-content-marketing-examples/). I would also consider that the competitors in your industry are not often the things that are competing for your customer’s attention, so I would look at the broader picture (what is your audience spending its time with)?