“No more vanity metrics. All we care about is leads.”

These words have been echoed across the world by business leaders and marketers. These well-intentioned professionals have come to the conclusion that cash flow is critical and that it will become their singular focus. Makes sense right?

While the traditional logic of “content = traffic = leads” makes sense, it creates a massive blind spot for B2B brands. Essentially it tells marketing, you’ll only get budget for activities that directly correlate to a business impact. This can hamper the department’s performance and send a negative shockwave throughout the organization. How so?

Diets aren’t for weight loss

Most people have tried to lose weight at some point in their life. They set a goal tied to a little number on a scale and break out the celery. But what happens if, after a few weeks of kale and seaweed, they step on the scale and see that the number hasn’t changed? They’ll probably give up completely.

Why is this the wrong decision?

While a dieter may not have moved the number on the scale, they’ll have achieved many other positive results in their life. They may be sleeping better, their skin is clear, and they feel more awake and energetic. Their life has improved drastically and weight loss is probably around the corner, but their fixation on one number makes them give up.

Content marketing is a long process. Most companies won’t see a return for several months even with the best content program (by some estimates 6-12 months). At times, a fixation on leads will cause companies to give up on content because they don’t realize all the other potential benefits of following a content program.

A holistic look at your B2B content marketing program

business, education, programming, people and technology concept - close up of african american female hands typing on keyboard

Businesses are run and powered by people. When done correctly, content should positively impact every person who’s involved in it. Whether those people are your prospects, clients, or your own employees.

How can you ensure you’re focusing on the big picture of content and not just thinking about leads generated? Try approaching content with these strategies.

Focus on reutilization for your sales force. 95% of buyers buy from someone who gave them content at each stage of the buying process. The key here is that content should be relevant to the customer journey. If you’re using an effective content strategy, then you’ll have content for sales to use. By giving your sales force full access to the content you produce and teaching them how to use it, you can increase close rates on existing leads and even shorten sales cycles.

Deepen your relationship with prospects. Keeping prospects engaged is the worst. Let’s be honest about it. How many follow-up emails can you realistically send before getting blocked out? Your content strategy can help you create closer bonds with those who are almost ready to buy. For example, you could feature a quote from a prospect in a blog or social media post. You could also create a roundtable style post to get industry perspectives from different prospects. This would be extremely valuable content and also deepen the positive feelings those prospects have toward your company.

Connect with influencers who can boost your credibility. We all know a big name on your client list can put a prospect’s mind at ease. This credibility boost shouldn’t just be limited to your client list though. Influencers in your industry are continually looking for opportunities to promote themselves. Make your content marketing strategy a platform that enables them to quickly contribute quotes, interviews, and their own content. It will benefit them and it will enhance your credibility as well.

Engage with the talent pool. Employee turnover, recruiting, and hiring cost businesses millions of dollars per year. By some estimates, just hiring a software engineer can cost up to $50,000 before you ever pay their salary. But, when your content strategy engages with potential employees, it makes you top of mind when they start looking a new job. Matt Charney, Executive Editor at Recruiting Daily puts it best, “In recruiting today, it’s not only recruiters who are doing the research. With 85% of job searches starting with a search engine, top talent is searching for a company the same way they would any other purchasing decision – which is why employer branding is so critical.”

Reuse content to train new employees. What do we do? How are we different? Basic questions about your brand will be floating around in the head of every new employee. Teaching them the answers is a tall order when you’re already getting them up to speed on their job. By creating a recommended reading list based on your content library, you empower new employees to find the answers to their own questions. Taking this extra step can turn your new employees into engaged brand evangelists.

These are five ways that every brand can reuse their content marketing to support other parts of their business. When you think creatively about your business, you’ll probably find more. Approaching content from an angle of reutilization increases the ROI for the entire organization and makes it easier to get buy-in from your team.

It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the big picture

The big picture of content marketing isn’t leads. It’s a strong brand that’s engaged with the communities that matter most. Taking a step back from the analytical process and thinking creatively about content will help you discover untapped sources of ROI for your business. This in turn will ensure you have a resilient business that can weather any storm.