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Attention, hamsters! Get off the content treadwheel

Content is king, to be sure.  But how did we end up on this crazy treadwheel, cranking out B2B content for content’s sake? Daily blog posts. Three tweets a day. Monthly white papers. Infinite infographics. Videos everywhere. Podcasts, ebooks. We’re sacrificing quality for quantity. We’re becoming irrelevant. We’re knee deep in Content Spam. This has got to stop.

Check out these stats from IDG. They brilliantly ran a study of IT buyers in the US and UK that directly connects irrelevant content with sales results. Of US tech buyers, 66% said that digital content needs to be “more aligned with organizational objectives and relevant to the decision-making process.” It could be that IT buyers are more demanding than those in other job functions—but I doubt it.

Wait, it gets worse: 79% of the buyers told IDG that the level of content relevance affects the vendor’s “likelihood to make the short list.” Now, that hurts. But here’s the zinger: a vendor is 25% more likely to be actually dropped from the shortlist if its content does not meet a minimum level of relevance. Uh-oh. This is the opposite of customer relationship management.

In the SEO world, the notion of Content Spam has been around for a couple of years. Search professionals decry the practice of loading up websites with keyword-stuffed crap designed to fool search engines into thinking they are informative and popular. But what I am talking about is customers and prospects, not search engines. We are loading up our customers with crap.

To keep your content relevant, here are five principles to live by:

  • Tailor your content to the market need, by analyzing your customer’s buying process and buying roles, and developing a library of content assets to help them solve their problems.
  • Be disciplined about new content quantity. Do you need this item? Will it fill a gaping hole in your asset library? Stand up against the pressure to generate content for content’s sake.
  • To feed the SEO beast, repurpose existing content instead of relentlessly creating new. There are zillions of options for clever reuse. Good quality content is likely to have an evergreen capability to serve incoming prospects over time.
  • Cull your content regularly. It’s hard, I know. We all fall in love with our creations. It might be a good idea to bring in a third party to assess your library, and give an objective opinion on what can stay and what needs to go.
  • Choose your content distribution channels carefully. Joe Pulizzi—who should know—makes a compelling case for limiting yourself to a few key communications vehicles, and doing them really well.

Let’s go for relevant, top quality content.  Less is more.

Ruth Stevens

Ruth Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, for both consumer and business-to-business clients. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the ERA business accelerator in New York City. Ruth is a guest blogger at AdAge, HBR.org, and Target Marketing Magazine. Her newest book is B2B Data-Driven Marketing: Sources, Uses, Results. She is also the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, Trade Show and Event Marketing, and co-author of the white paper series “B-to-B Database Marketing.” Ruth is a sought-after speaker and trainer, and has presented to audiences and business schools in Asia, Australia, and Latin America. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff-Davis, and IBM. She studied marketing management at Harvard Business School, and holds an MBA from Columbia University. Learn more at www.ruthstevens.com.

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