I've witnessed it "on the ground," so to speak. More clients are asking for more B2B content projects, and for more varied ways to implement B2B content marketing.
That anecdotal experience is backed up by the research. Let's start with the fine folks at the Content Marketing Institute, as explained back in Q4 in this column by Joe Pulizzi.
Greater investment in content was finally driving measurable success, right? Never mind the "trough of disillusionment" and the dire portents about "content shock." There was light at the end of the tunnel...or is that the top of the funnel?
Content marketers who've got their shit together are seeing positive gains. Where's that start? With making the commitment to content, as he points out:
91% of top performers are extremely or very committed to content marketing, compared to 63% of the overall sample and 35% of the bottom performers (those who characterized their overall content marketing approach as minimally or not at all successful).
91% of top performers indicate that their organizations are realistic about what content marketing can achieve, compared to 68% of the overall sample and 41% of bottom performers.
Other factors? Spending more on better content, developing coherent strategies behind it, making content a bigger priority...in brief, doing everything you'd do if you're treating B2B content marketing as a legitimate, tentpole discipline within your marketing mix.
Amazing how that plays out, right?
Another cup o'Joe about B2B content...
Here we are, nearly a year later, and the positive buzz hasn't dispelled yet. Take, for instance, a more recent post by Joe Lazauskas of Contently. What's he throwing down in this "Battle of the Joes"?
(First, though, props to him for a post title that's awesome clickbait: The Future of Content Marketing Isn’t Content Marketing. It's almost semi-factual, too)
Brands are finally realizing that great content has to be integrated into every part of their marketing and communications strategy. And as a result, what those brands need to run a successful content program has drastically changed.
No truer (digital) ink has been spilled on this topic. Over the last year, I've been up close in observing how B2B clients succeed or fail at content marketing. What separates the winners from the losers?
- Elevate content to a primary position in their marketing mix
- Integrate it fully with other strategies and platforms, including AI and ABM
- Consider content to be accountable to strategic KPIs and objectives
- Work from a calendar built around aligning the right content to the right audiences at the right time
- Invest in higher-quality content that has enduring value and evergreen re-usability
- Measure and fine-tune content programs to optimize impact by giving audiences what they want
- Do none of the above
- Don't have a basic understanding of the role and value of content, and don't commit to it
- Don't care if their content is craptent
- Lack "big picture" awareness of how B2B marketing is evolving
- Excuse failures by saying, "content marketing doesn't fit my business" or "it doesn't really deliver trackable ROI"
- Are bullshitting themselves and courting irrelevance
My side-by-side experiences
One of my recent (and former) clients never made the necessary investment in focus, budget, and measurement necessary to make content marketing succeed. It was no surprise when they quickly decided it wouldn't work for them, because it hadn't pegged the needle after only a few months of half-assed execution and lousy support.
Others I was working with over the same period? They made the commitment and followed through. They're getting the results they wanted, and more.
The net-net? The "trough of disillusionment" is non-existent for marketers who go into content marketing with a long-term plan in mind, awareness of the realities of how it works, and a willingness to commit and invest.
There's no pandemic failure lying in wait for content marketers. "Content shock" will only strike down those who don't make a smart, concerted effort to embrace what content marketing can do for them.