With less than two months remaining in 2012, you’ve probably started planning for next year. If your marketing and sales efforts produced the results you hoped for in 2012, that’s great! Congratulations on your success! Moving into 2013, you may only need to make minor adjustments to reach your revenue goals for next year.

On the other hand, if your marketing and sales efforts this year have not met your expectations, you may need to make substantial changes in your demand generation program to make 2013 a success.

If you aren’t already using content marketing as a core component of your demand generation strategy, that’s one change you need to make in 2013. Research by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs shows clearly that content marketing has become an essential part of B2B demand generation. According to the B2B Content Marketing:  2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends study:

  • 91% of B2B marketers are using content marketing in some form
  • 33% of B2B marketing budgets are now allocated to content marketing, up from 26% in 2011
  • 54% of B2B marketers say they will increase their content marketing spending in 2013

The essence of content marketing is the use of informative and/or entertaining content that is primarily nonpromotional. Good content is tailored for specific types of buyers and for specific buying process stages, and content must be fresh and current to appeal to potential buyers. Therefore, effective content marketing requires a significant number of content resources, and creating those resources can be a daunting job for many companies. In fact, the CMI/MarketingProfs study found that “producing enough content” is now the most difficult challenge facing B2B marketers.

The first thing you must do to create an effective content marketing program is identify what content resources you need. To some extent, of course, this determination will be based on the content distribution channels you choose to use. For example, if you decide to have a company blog, you will obviously need to create blog posts on a regular basis.

Even before you start thinking about content formats, however, you must determine what specific messages your content resources need to communicate. My next three articles will describe a proven process for identifying what content resources your company needs to implement an effective content marketing program.

In my next article, I’ll explain how to identify your core customer value propositions. Your value propositions constitute the foundation for your entire content marketing program, so it’s obviously critical to get them right at the beginning of your planning process. In the following article, I’ll describe how to develop buyer personas. Buyer personas will help ensure that your marketing messages are relevant to potential buyers. The fourth article in this series will describe how to use a content audit to identify where gaps exist in your portfolio of content resources and where your content development efforts need to be focused.