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The challenges of content marketing today (getting the right content to the right person at the right time in the right place on the right device in the right format) are now at a point of being as complex as managing a set of car repair manuals across 15 languages and multiple digital and physical formats.  Rich, relevant, accurate, quality content is paramount, but so is the ability to use, re-use, find, package, reformat, componentize, deliver, translate, automate, etc.  This is what intelligent content is all about, and I had the pleasure of attending the Intelligent Content Conference, a Content Marketing Institute event this week.

 

Below I’ve shared a few insights I gained after listening to and speaking with some brilliant content strategists and marketers at the event.  If one theme has emerged from these insights, it’s this: creating exceptional content experiences that drive results requires strategy and careful planning.

 

1. Less Content = Better Content Experiences

The content world is evolving.  It’s no longer believed that more content is better – it’s that better is better.  Creating content simply to have more content results in creating noise pollution and getting lost in the crowd.  In fact, companies who have taken the time to focus on quality over quantity have been more effective at providing better content experiences through multiple channels.   Quality content can also be more heavily re-purposed, leading to more internal efficiency.  The lesson: creating better content will get you heard above the noise rather than contribute to it.  Don’t run the risk of distributing lots of mediocre content that not only hurts brand credibility but also increases the risk of losing prospects early on in their buying journey.

 

2. Inspiring and Motivating Buyers

As prospects research your company, they’re not just comparing the content experience to those of your competitors – they are comparing it to the last awesome content experience they had.  The bar is high.  If your content is not connecting, they’ll quickly move on.  To attract buyers and maintain their interest, your content must address their needs, educate them with expert insights, and inspire them on a deeper emotional level.  This will ensure your content becomes a vehicle for establishing a relevant, valuable conversation with buyers that builds trust, confidence, and affinity.  How do you do this?  In our post, Content with a Purpose Part 1: Framework for B2B Content Marketing Success, we highlight 5 essential content classes. Each content class is defined by its purpose, or the specific effect on the buyer that it is aiming to achieve.  When used in its entirety, this framework ensures that you establish a more relevant and powerful connection with buyers, from understanding your product and company, to feeling good about your company, and finally to being motivated to act.

 

3. Treat Content Like it’s a Product

Think about how much market research, strategy, and planning goes into developing a product.  A successful product is not ad hocly thrown together.  Rather, you research the challenges facing a person or company and what critical capabilities they need to do their jobs better and faster.  You then apply this knowledge to plan and develop a product that is relevant and useful.  Likewise, developing valuable content cannot be a guessing game – it requires a carefully thought-out content marketing strategy.  Start out with developing rich buyer personas that let you understand your buyers on a truly deep level – their goals, concerns, needs, preferences, and more.  These personas will yield critical insights for developing content that is valuable to your buyers, increases engagement, and drives lead conversions.

 

4. “The Signature of Mediocrity is Chronic Inconsistency”

I had the opportunity to attend a session led by Scott Abel, and something he said that really resonated with me was a quote he used from Jim Collins, who stated that “the signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change – the signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.” This statement holds very true for content.  Corporate messaging, tone of voice, mission, values, and promise are essential foundational elements to creating content that is consistently aligned with your brand.  This consistency is key to creating quality content that drives your brand authority and establishes trust with buyers.

 

5. Content for Long-Term Business Success

When you create content, whether it’s a blog post, a contributed article, or a whitepaper, think beyond its current purpose, whether it’s to increase webinar registrations, drive campaign conversions, or increase traffic back to your website.  Yes, of course these are critical goals you must have and consider.  But only thinking in this context is too narrow.  When you create a content marketing strategy that’s built on built on deeply understanding your buyers and their business challenges, connecting with buyers on multiple levels, and aligning to your brand, you will do more than create content that drives conversions on a current campaign.  You will create content that unites Marketing and Sales, improves customer relationships, advances your thought-leadership, establishes credibility, promotes relationships with key industry influencers, and more.  You will create content that helps achieve long-term business success.

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