Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been writing about why B2B companies need a content factory and how to assess if you’re ready to build one. This week, I’m focusing on one of the biggest questions you’ll have to answer once you’ve decided to go ahead and build a factory:

What the heck is it supposed to produce?

Content Factory

Asking what a content factory should produce may sound like a stupid question — it is a content factory after all — but the answer is rarely straightforward. The fact of the matter is that there are lots of different kinds of content, each of which serves a different function and requires different resources to create. Just check out Joe Pulizzi’s content marketing playbook, which describes 42 different types of content that B2B companies can use to engage customers and prospects, and you’ll begin to see what I mean. (I’ve taken the liberty of capturing them all in the image above.)

When you’re faced with a lot of options, and are also likely constrained by limited resources, you need a strategic plan of attack. It’s critical that you decide where to concentrate your efforts so that you’re focused on creating whatever content will have the greatest impact. Ultimately, that content should help build your brand, foster strong relationships, and put prospects on the path to purchase.

So where do you begin?

The answer is at the intersection of your goals, needs, and capabilities.

Start by taking a hard look at your company’s overall goals and its overarching marketing objectives, both of which your content factory should be designed to support. It’s essential to keep these goals top of mind when you’re deciding what content to create. If promoting your products is the name of the game, you’re going to come at things very differently than if you’re trying to establish your company as a thought leader. Knowing what you’re ultimately trying to achieve will help you figure out the best types of content to get you there.

Once you understand your objectives, it’s time to examine your customers and prospects to figure out what their needs are. Doing so means formulating a very thorough understanding of who they are, what challenges they face, and how they like to consume content, among other factors. If you’re creating very basic articles for an audience that would be much more interested in meaty reports, you’re wasting your time. Simply put, developing a thorough understanding of your customers’ and prospects’ buyer personas is key.

Finally, you need to be realistic about what you’re actually capable of producing. If you’ve been doing this for years and have considerable resources at your disposal, the sky’s the limit. If, on the other hand, you’re an expansion-stage company, you might not have the budget, manpower, or infrastructure to tackle some things. Remember you have to walk before you can run, so start small and scale over time.

What makes sense when you’re new to the game?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to developing a content marketing strategy. What one company’s content factory produces with great success, may not work at all for another. Generally speaking, however, at OpenView we’ve found that startups and expansion-stage companies can score some early wins by initially focusing on any (or all) of the following:

  • Blogs are an easy tool for communicating about a variety of topics in small, easy-to-execute increments. Over time they can become an effective tool for driving traffic and enhancing engagement. (For some tips on corporate blogging, click here)
  • Case studies can give you a tangible means of touting your successes to customers and prospects. Seeing a real-life example of how your company can help is an effective way of engaging new prospects while also potentially making existing customers aware of products or services they may not have known you offer. (For some tips on creating case studies, click here)
  • Testimonials are probably the easiest type of content to create (provided you have amendable customers), but nevertheless can go a long way toward validating the value that your company offers.

Does your company have a content factory in place or are you in the process of creating one? If so, leave a comment letting me know what you’re working on and how it’s going.

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