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23 Tips to Make the Most of Your Content Marketing Budget

Challenging times can mean challenging budgets.

In CMI’s recent B2B research, 69% of respondents expected budgets to stay the same or decrease through the end of 2020.

No matter what happens with content marketing budgets, one thing looks certain: Organizations will scrutinize every dollar spent in 2021.

No matter what happens with #ContentMarketing budgets, one thing looks certain: Organizations will scrutinize every dollar spent in 2021, says @anngynn via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Now is the ideal time to plan how you’ll get the most from your content marketing budget – whatever the amount. Content Marketing World 2020 speakers offer some advice on how to do that. They don’t all agree, and no answer will suit every business. Evaluate these suggestions in the context of your organization, content marketing program, and goals.

Assemble a one-stop resource

At Killer Visual Strategies, we develop a “workbench of assets” for clients. This is a suite of icons, illustrations, and data visualizations uniquely designed for their brand. These elements can be pulled into any type of content as it’s produced. Marketers can control quality and consistency by having the team use the same assets that they can quickly find, saving time and money in the process. – Amy Balliett, CEO, Killer Visual Strategies 

Waste nothing

Make sure your resources provide ROI. Track the type of content you’re delivering and what results it’s getting. If you’re just throwing content out there because your team created it for you, but there are no structured goals or expectations, then it’s just a bunch of words. That is a huge waste of time, money, human resources, and talent. Viveka von Rosen, chief visibility officer, Vengreso

Don’t go it alone

The marketing multiplier that I know works is co-creation. And it’s a way to create better content. Co-create with customers, users, partners, and employees. It’s a way to scale better and produce more relevant content. – Kathy Klotz-Guest, founder, Keeping It Human

Get your social proof for free

Use free online communities like subreddits to find social proof on content that is finding fans. – Jacquie Chakirelis, director of digital strategy, Quest Digital/Great Lakes Publishing

Use subreddits to find social proof on #content that’s finding fans, says @JacquieChak via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Create an editorial board

Hosting a quarterly editorial board meeting with participants from all your content-creating and customer-facing departments is a great way to save money. Having a forum for sharing recently created content, teams often can find starting points for planned projects or materials to adapt to meet similar needs in other parts of the company. Similarly, editorial meetings can uncover shared content needs that can be better met with shared people and budget resources. – Erika Heald, founder, Erika Heald Marketing Consulting 

Create aloud

Produce more audio-centric content. Complementing short- and long-form written content with audio is a low cost and effective way to engage consumers. It’s also a measurable way to track the popularity of content. For example, narrate blog posts, white papers, and company presentations. You’ll stand out because voice-enabled narrative content is not yet mainstream. – Bernie Borges, chief customer officer, Vengreso

Narrate blog posts and white papers to create new #audio #content, says @bernieborges via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Get out the ax

Do fewer things but do them better. Cancel stuff you’re never going to win by doing or can’t be the best at. Measure what works and kill what doesn’t. – Doug Kessler, co-founder, Velocity

Focus your work

Think: How can I serialize and syndicate a few ideas rather than flood the channel? – Rich Schwerin, senior content strategist, Autodesk

Renovate old content

Make the most with what you’ve got. Updating or resurfacing old content is often more resource-efficient than creating entirely new content. You can remix that content into a new format. For example, use old blog posts as the script for a new audio or video series, or create transcripts of videos to serve as blog posts. – Melanie Deziel, chief content officer StoryFuel

Updating or resurfacing old #content is more resource-efficient than creating entirely new content, says @mdeziel via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Expand your distribution

Create once and distribute many times. – Ahava R. Leibtag, president, Aha Media Group

Create a cultural text to attract your audience

Production quality and “good content” are not analogous. The most shared objects among people are memes – pixelated images with horrible fonts that don’t look good. But that’s not why we share them. We share them because they act as cultural products that help us achieve identity projects while connecting with our people. Spend your time and resources making content that serves as cultural text because it is meaningful to the people you’re going after. It doesn’t have to be directed by David Fincher to be great. – Marcus Collins, marketing professor, University of Michigan Ross School of Business

Spend your resources to make #content that serves as cultural text b/c it’s meaningful to your audience, says @marctothec via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Limit yourself to the meaningful

Do one or two things well and then leave the rest behind. We live in an oversaturated world of content. We don’t need more content. Consumers are hungry for meaningful content, so spend your resources creating meaningful material. If that means one resource-packed email a month, that’s far better than 20 emails filled with fluff. – Lindsay Hotmire, CEO, Lindsay Hotmire Creative

Pick only a few influencers

Instead of working with an array of different influencers, choose your external content authors wisely and build mutually beneficial long-term partnerships with them. Gradually, they will become your most valuable content ambassadors. – Alenka Bester, head of digital content marketing, Zavarovalnica Triglav 

Analyze your team capabilities

Before buying more technology or hiring an agency, see if team members can get it done. Your team is closer to the business than any outsider. And when they solve a challenge, they feel rewarded and become better. That’s a benefit in addition to saving money. – Dennis Shiao, marketing consultant, Attention Retention

Boost your team’s knowledge

Invest in your internal capabilities rather than relying on outsourced content creation. It can seem counterintuitive, but growing your own skills in-house pays bigger dividends over the long term than farming the work out. Make it OK to go slow now while you learn new tools, channels, etc., and you’ll not only save money, you’ll go faster later on. – Andrea Fryrear, co-founder, Agile coach and trainer, AgileSherpas

Look inward

You need to run your content marketing program. An agency is great to help and keep you on the right track. But operating your program will help you keep the costs down and maintain consistency and relevance.

It also helps to set and invest in creating a strong foundation, having a copywriter and a great editor in house, while gaining knowledge of SEO and running social media. You will be able to create consistent content that is informative and engaging. In time, you will need to invest less in being discovered because the audience will be going back for more on their own. – Inga Batur, senior editor and writer, Zavarovalnica Triglav 

Educate yourself

Learn new skills. There are so many tutorials and free training programs out there, you should take some time each week to learn more about different aspects of content marketing and strategy. You don’t have to be an SEO expert to start making improvements to your content. – Brian Piper, director of digital content strategy, University of Rochester

Take some time each week to learn new skills, says @brianwpiper via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Explore less expensive options

Don’t buy the most expensive software for most projects. There are suitable cheaper options in many instances. – Christoph Trappe, chief marketing officer, The Authentic Storytelling Project

Stop the trials

Skip any testing or focus groups. If you have good insights, get the creative out in the world and use real stuff as the tests. – Adam Morgan, executive creative director, Adobe

Don’t do all at once

Embrace the pilot. A lot of content marketers try to go all-in on a transformative program that changes everything about how their organization functions and feels about marketing. While this approach can work, most marketers are better off betting small and learning big by piloting out content series and franchises designed to test, learn, and improve before attempting to scale. – Andrew Hanelly, strategy, Revmade

Pull the social plug

Quit Facebook. Quit Instagram. – Joe Pulizzi, founder, Content Marketing Institute

Think only about buyers

Understand what your buyers want to know and give it to them in the places/formats that they trust. Stop doing everything else. – Adele Revella, CEO, Buyer Persona Institute

One more thing

And we’ll conclude with this smart (though a little self-serving for all involved) advice from Ruth Carter, evil genius, Carter Law Firm: “Use all the tips and recommendations for free resources the speakers share at Content Marketing World. There are so many.”

Ready to connect and learn? Join us for Content Marketing World Oct. 13 to 16. You’ll also receive on-demand access to the dozens of breakout sessions and exclusive post-event content through the end of the year. Register today.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute