Consider that 85% of B2B marketing content developed by companies is never used by their sales forces. Read that again – 85% didn’t just not work – it was never even used! As a B2B marketer

for a manufacturing company or technically-focused firm, this is unacceptable and discouraging. But, and it hurts me to say this as I’m a marketing guy, this isn’t the Sales Department’s fault – it’s Marketing’s problem. We’ve gotten so focused on the activity (e.g., number of blog posts created per month), that we’ve lost sight of the ultimate business outcomes this content is supposed to be driving.

And unfortunately, this is only going to get worse as B2B firms are expected to continue

and crank out more content – 70% of B2B marketers expect to produce more content in 2017 than they did in 2016.

So as a B2B marketer, what can you do? Before you consider developing a digital content marketing strategy, create a formalized process for evaluating and prioritizing new content creation needs. At a high level, this could be similar to a phase-gate process for new product development. But specifically, this process should meaningfully answer the following questions:

  • Do we need to create new content to accomplish the desired objectives?
    Have you performed a content audit? Do you have an existing piece of content that’s similar? If yes, can it be leveraged to create this content?
  • Do we (really) know what our customers want and how they consume information?
    Deeply understanding what customers want is critical to ensuring successful content. This means asking them, researching competitors and observing how they interact with the content you’ve already provided them. It’s also about understanding the challenges they face across the buying cycle, the formats they prefer and who is in their sphere of influence.
  • If we develop this new piece of content, how will we measure the business outcome it produced?
    If you can’t measure it, don’t create it.
  • If we develop this new piece of content, how will the sales cycle be impacted?
    Communicating new content to sales and helping them better leverage it in their work is a critical component of the content marketing program.
  • Is the new piece of proposed content significantly better and more targeted than anything available?
    Browse the competition using tools like Buzzsumo to identify content on the same topic. Is what you’re proposing easier to understand, more detailed and helpful, more in-depth and up to date? If not, the desired business outcomes may not be realized.

Once you’ve performed this exercise several times, you’ll notice that your standard for creating content will be significantly higher than ever before. Leading B2B manufacturing companies and brands have a streamlined process for creating successful content. They understand it’s wasteful and costly to create new content without first performing the necessary steps to helping ensure the content will be successful.