One of the biggest challenges that marketing teams have is budget management. The process of figuring out what to spend on content can feel like throwing darts in the dark—especially if you’re looking to build a comprehensive library of infographics, case studies, landing pages, eBooks, videos, and other resources, you’re looking at costs that range in the six to seven figures. Long story short, content can get expensive. Even if you’re able to demonstrate an ROI on these assets, the thought of dropping cash can be nerve-wracking—especially since the path from content to transaction can be convoluted, with many twists and turns in the buyer journey.
It’s this reason why, when developing content, you need to be just as strategic as you are tactical. Beyond producing high-quality content, there are certain micro-decisions that can help you increase the value of your investment. These judgment calls are subtle and require planning in advance. This process as similar to a game of chess. In a digital landscape where attention spans are spread thin, subtle “hacks” can help you attract and retain your audience’s attention. You’ll also increase the value of your investment, overall. Here’s how:
1. Extend the Shelf Life of Your Content
When writing content, the opportunity to discuss or respond to an in-the-moment trend can feel like low-hanging fruit. After all, the purpose of content is to contribute to industry dialogue. But what happens when industry discussions change? As the global media landscape has shown readers in the last several years, trends have the potential to become outdated. Outdated discussions mean outdated content. That means, if you’ve spent $15,000 on an eBook or video, your team is simply out $15,000.
This waste is unnecessary.
Instead, focus on creating content that’s timeless. Examples include:
- Foundational, thesis-style resources that explain the value of your company
- Answers to questions that come up on a repeated basis
- Stories that explain the need and value proposition for your product
- Resources that demonstrate insight or expertise in your industry
Think about your content in terms of long-time horizons.
2. Tie Content to Friction Points in Your Sales Cycle
Chances are, the friction points in your sales cycle reflect patterns. For instance, your sales team may notice the same question arising in everyday conversations. In these situations, it’s important to think like an engineer—that is, if you need to do something more than once, you should automate it. While you can’t automate the process of writing content, what you can do is create a body of content that answers common questions. For instance, you could create the following:
- Resources that explain the technology behind your software
- Education for confusing topics or concepts that are foundational to everyday conversation
- Interesting discussion starters around trends in your industry
- Case studies that provide tangible insight into the value of your products
This approach is especially valuable for marketing teams that are getting new content programs of the ground. Despite the proven value of education, stakeholders are often skeptical of whether content will yield more sales. One way to demonstrate results is to keep your content as closely mapped to your sales process as possible. With this perspective in mind, you can show metrics like:
- Deal volume
- Sales cycle duration
- Customer satisfaction rates
3. Get Audience Feedback
Yes, you may be creating content. But are people reading what you produce and finding this information valuable?
At the end of the day, the value of your content isn’t about attribution models or impressions. You need to make sure that you’re reaching actual human beings. Remember that content is a tool to establish deep bonds and lasting relationships with fellow humans. Just as product managers and engineers collect feedback to improve the usability of their products, you can collect feedback to understand the value and efficacy of your content program. Consider asking the following questions through interviews or surveys:
- How helpful was this resource in helping you make a purchase decision?
- How did you find this content, and why did you decide to read it?
- What questions has this content left unanswered?
- Did this content change the way that you think about your existing workflows or practices?
Audience feedback will also be helpful for your idea generation process. No matter how talented you are as a marketer, it can be tough to maintain a constant, empathetic line of communication with your customers. With a structured feedback process in place, you can create more effective content that directly impacts different stages of your sales cycle.
As one simple exercise, you could consider interviewing one reader per day, every day. Over the course of a quarter, you’ll have at least interviews. Record your interviews, and you’ll have data that you can analyze. You can use this resource for content ideas and to show stakeholders that your content program is working.
Content is an important investment that you shouldn’t take lightly. Think long term, and make sure that you’re not throwing money away. A simple test will be to see if a piece of content will be valuable in a year or two. If you’re not sure how to answer this question, take a look at peer companies or competitors in your industry. If you can’t find help here, consult your personal reading list or analyze companies that you admire.
Remember that an asset as simple as a blog post can form the basis for a library of resources including infographics, videos, and deeper eBooks. When you build your program additively, you’ll reduce the potential for waste and put yourself in a position to do what you love—be creative, tell stories, and take price in making an impact to your company’s bottom line.