The Real Challenge for B2B Content Marketers

B2B Content Marketing Challenges Chart from CMIB2B content marketers are hiding behind false excuses for their content marketing challenges.

According to Curata’s survey, now nearly a year old, B2B content marketers’ biggest challenges are limited budget (27%), limited staff (25%) and creating enough new content (21%). (source)

In the Content Marketing Institute’s 2013 benchmarks (released in October 2012, in addition to content they mastered time travel), the top challenges are producing enough content (64%), producing the kind of content that engages the audience (52%) and producing a variety of content (45%).

Only 39% report a lack of budget. At the very bottom of the list are lack of buy-in/vision (22%) and finding trained content marketers (14%). (source) Similarly, the Curata survey shows only 7% say senior level buy-in is their biggest challenge.

The content marketing community is misleading itself. The real root problems aren’t producing enough content, limited budgets or staff, particularly as only 14% have problems hiring!

Here is the real problem: organizations are not on board with content marketing as a core B2B marketing initiative. All of the other content marketing challenges research continues to point to are merely symptoms.

When push comes to shove, a little bit of a national advertising budget can fund a lot of content marketing, but it isn’t a priority. If they did, simply creating content wouldn’t be the top challenge. Instead, challenges like integration, measurement or keeping up with changes in the market would rise to the top.

How did we get here?

  1. We said content marketing was cheap. I’ve said before, if content marketing is really that cost effective today, it will become more expensive in the future. Your organization was on board when it was cheap, when you could drive results with thoughtless blog posts slammed out in 10 minutes or created by an offshore SEO company. Now that cheap content doesn’t work, the real lack of commitment is shining through.
  2. Content was a supporting element only. Content was part of SEO, social or a crazy skunkworks company blog experiment. It was necessary to feed your newsletter or nurture programs through your marketing automation platform. It supported your sales team. You never had to justify the investment in content for content marketing’s sake.

Addressing the challenges content marketing faces today will require addressing the underlying issue that content, all rhetoric from bloggers and trade publications aside (notably people in the content business), isn’t really the priority they claim it is.

Your Turn

Why do you think content marketing landed in this position? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

B2B Content Marketing Challenges is from CMI’s 2013 Benchmark Report

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About Eric Wittlake

I am a digital and B2B marketer with a background in online media and analytics. I work with B2B clients on media and integrated marketing programs at Babcock & Jenkins. You can connect with me on Twitter at @wittlake or in the comments here on my B2B Digital Marketing blog.

  • http://ryanskinner.tumblr.com Ryan Skinner

    Lots of stats there. Little obvious signal.

    I think it’s easy for those of us who work in agencies, and who pride ourselves with being at the forefront of the industry (the kind who read your blog), to presume that people and businesses will just do what makes sense. They’ll choose the most efficient path. When that doesn’t happen (or doesn’t happen fast enough for us), we’re thrown aback. Are we wrong? Are we fooling ourselves?

    No. I don’t think so. People and especially big organizations just won’t stop doing what they’re doing very fast, no matter how much sense it makes. Change is hard.

    Where marketing’s a priority, a great content marketing program will eventually be a priority (in most cases). It’s just a matter of the culture of the organization and the persuasive skill of the marketer.

    In B2B, though, marketing’s not always a priority. When marketing’s not a priority, you’re less concerned with what makes sense. You’re just covering bases.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Wow, thanks for the kind words about my blog here!

      Yes, I agree, sometimes we expect change to happen quickly. Great point, sometimes it is because marketing isn’t a big priority in the business. The effort to change or innovate sometimes is directed elsewhere while marketing is asked to do essentially the same thing, only a little bit better.

      It sounds like you have outlined a new mission for yourself: make marketing an organizational priority for B2B marketers. Love to hear how you start tackling this one! :)

  • Jeff Wilson

    Hi Eric, Couldn’t agree more. In the enterprise marketing world i have been a part of content (good quality content at that) has always been an integral part of marketing and marketing’s support of enterprise programs. To call it out in such a way is really to the benefit of those who provide content marketing services.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Awesome. Thanks Jeff!

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  • http://discover-your-customers.com/ Beth Browning

    I tend to think that a lot of B2B folks are stuck in an old paradigm of marketing and don’t really understand that the consumer is in control and that cold calling and other push methods of marketing are declining in their effectiveness as a stand alone strategy. Nor do I think many understand that good content and a content marketing strategy can strengthen the traditional methods of marketing.

    I’m not 100% certain that they truly saw the value in content when it was ‘cheap.’ What they saw were artificial results related to SEO – (I say artificial because although the poor quality content worked to drive traffic, it was never qualified traffic or a good practice).

    My guess is that they saw or perhaps still see content as a way to increase search engine rankings and haven’t realized that consumers in both B2B and B2C worlds seek out, rely on, and use good content to help them make decisions on what products to by and who they want to do business with.

    Thanks for sharing a great article.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks Beth. I agree, in many markets it is still just an SEO or other marketing tactic, not a belief that it is a fundamentally different way to connect with your audience.

      Thanks for the great addition.

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  • http://www.newincite.com jenbeever

    Thanks, Eric, I like this – “Content was part of… …a crazy skunkworks company blog experiment.” How many of those have we seen in recent years? Maybe that is why a couple years ago the blog abandonment rate was 90+%!

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Glad you liked that line, and thanks for taking the time to comment. Good point, and I would expand on it slightly in light of this post: those blogs are abandoned because content creation didn’t become a priority for those businesses. Thanks!

  • Greg Jordan

    Thanks for highlighting this important issue. It has always been a factor because very few have figured out a formula that creates a ROI, but most believe that they have to try something in the content marketing arena.

    When you couple this with the speed at which the contentosphere platforms are changing (Pinterest for B2B marketing, anyone?) , it’s really hard to figure out where it’s right to invest your content marketing efforts.

    And so we become a business culture of either those who put less than optimum effort into the latest new thing until the latest new thing comes along, or organizations that sit on the sidelines, making occasional feeble attempts to get up and get in the game – only because they feel they have to be in the game in some way, lest they lose it totally. They are kind of in the game, and they are kind of not.

    Those organizations that seem to be doing well with this seem to have a thoughtful strategy worked out that they stick with, and consistently work at it and measure their results. They are not seduced by the next shiny new idea that comes along, unless it can prove that it builds on and fits with their overall strategy. Armed with a plan, a knowledge of what works, and some positive results, decision makers can more easily support their CM efforts.

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