By Heidi Cohen published February 3, 2014

3 Strategies for Stretching Your Content Marketing Budget

tombstone-content marketing death prediction2014 is the year of content marketing!

Don’t take my word for it. Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi said it best: “There will be a number of ‘content marketing is dead’ articles that flood the scene. Content marketing will finally make the big time.” 

This isn’t a surprising new revelation, since consumer trust in advertising and push marketing has eroded over time. In fact, the sources customers trust most are other customers and content marketing (according to a 2011 study by Nielsen).graph showing consumer trust

In response, marketers realized they need a cost-effective way to reach out and connect with their target audience. Given this, it’s no surprise that a 2013 Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs study found that more than 90 percent of B2B marketers use one or more forms of content marketing to reach and engage their prospects and customers.

Additionally in today’s connected world, everyone is a content creator — not just marketers and professional media entities. Social media, smartphones, and other connected devices enable and empower anyone to create content — even 13-year-olds!

This content adds to the ever-growing amount of information. KPCB’s Mary Meeker reported that content is growing at an exponential rate — expected to reach 8 zettabytes by 2015. That’s a lot of content!

graph showing digital info creation levels

While content production that exceeds our audience’s ability to consume it isn’t new, it does present a growing challenge for content marketers to use their resources wisely when creating content and helping it to stand out.

Not all content is created equal

To help prioritize content creation, content marketers need to understand the three key attributes of content:

  1. Content effectiveness: There’s a flood of information that’s not reader friendly. Look to avoid content filled with corporate-speak and empty, “me-too” content that fills many media sites and blogs.
  2. Content packaging: To succeed, content marketing needs more than just useful information. The information must also be packaged to naturally appeal to your key audience. I call this “dressing your content for success,” and recommend using an effective title, attractive image, and easy-to-scan text to outfit content for optimal attention.
  3. Content context: Information must be relevant to the times, places, and ways it is intended to be accessed. This translates to the ability to deliver the appropriate content to the right delivery channel at the right time. If your information isn’t present when the consumer needs it — no matter what device they are using to look for it — someone else’s will be found and consumed instead. 

content context diagram

Increase your content marketing value without increasing your budget

You can argue with your management team over the amount of additional budget you need to create more content that can compete for limited consumer attention. But chances are, if you’re like most marketers, you’re not going to get any incremental budget this year.

Therefore to make your business stand out and engage prospects, customers and fans with great content, you need to think beyond your marketing. You need to think holistically about all of the content created across your organization.

When you think this way, two things happen:

  1. The good news: This doesn’t require incremental budget.
  2. The bad news: You need to get others who’ve been creating content the old fashioned way to work with you and your team. (BTW: It always helps to have senior management and finance on your side.) 

3 strategies for stretching your content marketing budget

So how do you take advantage of these resources and leverage them to create epic content? Here are the three key strategies to stretch your content marketing budget.

  1. Rethink your content across your organization: Every company creates lots of information. Take the time to track this content and determine where you can re-envision ways to create useful content people want to consume. This means all of the information produced in your firm — including sales pieces, product information, instructions, customer service, your website, legal documentation, human resources, and investor relations. When repurposing content for marketing purposes, make sure you skip the anonymous boring corporate-speak —  write for humans, using language your target user can understand. In the process, assess where you can eliminate redundant content creation efforts so that you can spend more on content quality. This is why not all content marketing is incremental.
  2. Create a few pieces of really “breakthrough” content: By examining your content creation across your organization, you can determine where you can create major pieces that attract attention in ways that you can build on throughout your content and marketing efforts. Even better: Make sure you plan to share these pieces on your social media platforms.
  3. Distribute your existing content more effectively: You don’t necessarily need to continually create more and more content. Instead, take some time to plan how you will promote your content, to get the most benefit out of each piece you create. At a minimum, try to utilize each piece of content across all of your owned and social media channels. Then, look into how you can incorporate often overlooked ways to extend your content reach, such as linking your content to appropriate product pages on your website or including a link to your content or blog in everyone’s outgoing emails. 

Leverage the power of your organization’s content marketing to ensure that your business maximizes its earning potential in 2014. Expand quality content creation beyond your marketing department.

How do you plan to fund your content marketing plans?

Read CMI’s how-to guide on Process, for more ideas on how to get the most value form your existing content marketing team, tools, and resources. 

Cover image via Rhys Asplundh

Author: Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi works with online media companies and e-tailers to increase profitability with innovative marketing programs based on solid analytics. During the course of 20 years, Heidi has obtained deep experience in direct and digital marketing across a broad array of products including soft goods, financial services, entertainment, media entities and crafts-oriented goods. Heidi shares her actionable marketing insights on her blog. Find Heidi Cohen online at Twitter @heidicohen, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Other posts by Heidi Cohen

  • http://mattfieldingseo.co.uk/ Matt Fielding

    Really interesting article Heidi, but many people (e.g, me) might struggle to join the dots between the theory and the practical implementation of your first point. Do you have any examples?

    • heidicohen

      Matt–

      What I mean by “rethink” your existing information and communications is to use a content marketing approach to creating these documents and media.

      Use these communications to provide your audience with useful and easy-to-consume information.

      At a minimum, sound like a real person.

      For a great example, check out Warby Parker’s 2013 annual report.(LINK: http://www.warbyparker.com/annual-report-2013/)

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

      • http://mattfieldingseo.co.uk/ Matt Fielding

        Hi Heidi, thanks for replying – that link is returning a 404, is there a problem with the page?

  • Uros

    Agree. Influence on the company influencers, so company starts doing things, that create content. Make real world storyful. Otherwise imho., consumer will start to smell invented crap.

    • heidicohen

      Uros–I agree stories are very useful. They make it easier for your audience to grasp and remember. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    Successful content marketing doesn’t mean you have to spend huge amount of money. If you know how to use all the resources around you, you can easily reach your target audience. It’s just a matter of distributing your content more effectively as stated above.

    • heidicohen

      Barbara–You’re right. Great content requires great thinking, not big spending. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.bettergraph.com/ Anoop Srivastava

    I know 1 single content marketing strategies – write about your customers problem and solutions. They will surely come to your blog to Say Thanks. It will help to grow your customer.

    • heidicohen

      Anoop–Understand that this approach applies to all of your content, not just your blog. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://TribeBoost.com/ Kevin Strasser

    Great article, although I would suggest you are missing the one biggest thing you can do (at little cost) to fuel your content marketing impact. That one thing is focusing on audience growth.

    Consistently working on growing your audience size and quality (I focus on Twitter personally as that works best for me) will allow your content to have a greater reach.
    I also see this as being something I can work on and know 100% that it will have a large impact. Whereas with tinkering with a headline or story idea for hours may or may not make a huge difference.

    Even if you create the world’s greatest blog post — if you are not connected with people to amplify your content — it will largely be for naught.

    • heidicohen

      Kevin–

      I agree that it’s critical to continually grow your audience. That’s at the core of any good marketing strategy.

      This article focuses on maximizing your content marketing budget, not audience building. The idea is to make your existing content more effective so that it has greater impact meaning more of the people who receive it, use it.

      Most audience building strategies require budget including social media.

      BTW–Research shows that the best social media platform for B2C sales is Pinterest. Further, many B2B marketers find that Slideshare yields the best results.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

      • http://TribeBoost.com/ Kevin Strasser

        I just think that content marketing and audience development are two sides to the same coin. There are so many articles about writing good content, coming up with great ideas, how to write epic blog posts, etc., etc. I wonder why so few of these people ever talk about audience building?

        You can do it as easily, as cheaply as focusing on your content improvements and will likely yield more value.

        Yes Pinterest is great for B2C, but for my business it is purely B2B and Twitter has yielded the best returns thus far.