While the Content Marketing Institute team digs into our research stats each year to see what trends are characterizing the current state of B2B content marketing, we have also found that one of the best ways to advance the conversation is to look forward.
During a B2B research roundtable discussion that took place at this year’s Content Marketing World, SAP’s Michael Brenner kicked off the conversation:
This is kind of a subtle thing I noticed this year. In the past we’ve been talking about content marketing is the future, and now I’m hearing questions of ‘what is the future of content marketing?’ So it’s a subtle difference, but I’m interested in what your thoughts are on what is the future of content marketing?
In this final installment of our ongoing series focused on the newest B2B content marketing research from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, Michael, along with fellow industry experts Ardath Albee, Carla Johnson, Michael Weiss, and Todd Wheatland shared their views of the future of B2B content marketing.
Huge thanks to Shiri Friedman from Brightcove for moderating this discussion.
So what does the future of content marketing have in store for its practitioners? Much of the conversation revolved around how content marketers can improve how they work with other teams across their organizations:
Marketing to better align with sales
I mean we’re getting asked by our sales team — who are really getting social selling and social business as a concept — they’re asking the content marketing resources inside our company to come and train them on how to write blogs and how to connect with people on LinkedIn, and ‘how do I upload my sales presentation on Slide Share?’ So I agree with you. I think that we’re seeing that evolution happen. —Michael Brenner
Sales enablement is a big consideration in B2B content marketing (it’s also the topic of our most recent #CMWorld Twitter chat with Carla Johnson). While it makes sense for sales and marketing to work together, this can often be tough to coordinate and manage over the long haul. But it can be done, and here are some tips to help get you started:
- Brendan Cournoyer offers three ways content marketing can enable sales, which can play a big part in getting executive buy-in for content, or for a larger content budget.
- During last year’s B2B research roundtable, the panel of experts offered some suggestions on how to create a foundation for an ongoing dialogue in which both teams will actively participate.
Telling a consistent story on behalf of your company
I’d also like to see [storytelling] be more integrated within companies, so it’s not just telling that story externally; it’s telling it internally, so there isn’t that schizophrenic, disjointed connection between what people experience in sales and marketing and [what happens] when they actually interact with companies. —Carla Johnson
And, on the same subject:
Well, in addition to buying it, we can no longer have all these little silo teams — the social media team, and the web team, and the PR team, and the demand-gen team — and none of them ever talk to each other. I mean, how in the heck do you tell a consistent story if you don’t even talk to each other? That’s even worse than marketing and sales not speaking to each other. —Ardath Albee
While it’s tough to get all of the communications-focused teams within an organization on the same page, great things can happen when you make the effort to get the whole company involved in telling a consistent story. Though it’s not a B2B company, the story of Coca Cola’s Content 2020 program serves as a great example of how to rally the troops.
More focus on influencer marketing
We’re now at the sweet spot for a content distribution platform, so these advertising platforms, ways of getting that visibility… I think we’re just going to have wave upon wave of the next things, like the influence of outreach is also harder, and there’ll be a lot more technology investment in that space. —Todd Wheatland
Having a strategic plan for working with your influencers will be key. Here are some posts to help get you started:
- Joe Pulizzi lays out how Content Marketing Institute works with influencers.
- Joe Chernov suggests Little Bird as a great tool to help identify influencers.
- Amanda Maksymiw, Leslie Reiser, and Waynette Tubbs chat about how to find influencers and use them in your content marketing strategy.
Other trends to watch for
At CMI, we think about what’s next for content marketing a lot. Here are just a few of the trends we see:
- Content marketing and content strategy are separate, yet related, disciplines. It’s key for content marketers to understand the distinction, as well as where the two fields intersect. There’s lots more coming on this topic from CMI in future months.
- The skills we need to tackle content marketing are different than what we needed even a few years ago. To help you stay ahead of the curve, take a look at Tyler Douglas’ description of the five types of people who will lead tomorrow’s marketing strategies. In addition, Joe Pulizzi lays out the 12 roles that are essential to the future of content marketing, and Robert Rose chimes in with insights on how the role of the CMO is poised to evolve.
- Content Marketing World also provided a lot of fodder to inform our views of content marketing’s future. Here are seven trends that struck the CMI team most profoundly.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, as well. What content marketing trends do you think are most essential to track? Where do you see this discipline headed?
View the other videos in this roundtable discussion:
- Social Media Channels: How and When to Focus Your Efforts
- How to Overcome the B2B Content Marketing Time Crunch
You can also see more results from our B2B content marketing research, visit CMI’s Research Page.