The Content Deluge and What it Means for B2B
According to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, we generate as much information in a couple of days as all of mankind has since the dawn of recorded history up to 2003. Some mathematicians will argue that the true number of days is actually closer to a week, but the point is that our species generates more information today than we have ever before. It’s a staggering statistic.
“Every 2 days we create as much information as we did up to 2003.”
– Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google
The Content Deluge has also hit the B2B space hard. Big brands with deep pockets have been able to adapt quickly and become big content brands in a relevantly short time. Some smaller brands have had a tougher time of it because resources and cash are already stretched, while others have adapted well because they saw the signs early and prepared accordingly.
However, no one can say they didn’t see this coming.
Well before the digital revolution hit every market in 2008, the alarm bells were already ringing about the coming digital tsunami. Social networks like Facebook started blazing that trail in 2004 and now, here we are.
If inbound traffic to your business is humming and conversion rates are keeping your sales people busier than ever, congratulations! You prepared well and are reaping the rewards for the hard work.
If you’re on the other side of the fence and struggling with generating leads, don’t panic. There is a simple solution, but be warned: generating results today requires more effort and resources than it did in 2008.
Why? Because with every deluge comes massive amounts of debris (aka: crap). The best explanation of the crap that comes along with generating content is the SlideShare below by Doug Kessler (@dougkessler).
What to do?
How do you deal with the Content Deluge? How do you rise above all the crap? There is no easy answer except to be willing to invest in creating content that engages buyers and helps them make informed decisions. The advice in Doug’s SlideShare above is well worth considering.
“The winners in the Post-Deluge era will be the companies that build something precious. The winners will be those who build great content brands.”
– Doug Kessler, Velocity Partners
Our Three Key Takeaways are based on our own agency experiences but mirror Doug’s sentiments:
- Elevate your brand. This is a decision. You either want to be a market leader or you don’t. Gone are the days of “fitting in” or “me too” branding. The B2B marketing landscape has changed drastically in the last five years. It’s much more transparent and instant. You either stand out or become shut out. Everything starts with your brand. Everything from your personality, to your voice, to your promise. Your customers only care about how much you care for them so stake a bold claim that stands for something great and own it. You have to elevate your brand high enough that it will be noticed above the crap.
- Identify Subject Matter Experts. Great content is not created in a vacuum. One person or one department cannot do it alone. The content ecosystem spans the entire organization. There are subject matter experts in every corner of your company. Build your content team by seeking them out, empowering them, and helping them actively stay involved in communicating your brand’s promise. An active, social brand is a brand that is top of mind.
- Be prepared for the long haul. B2B sales cycles are long. That’s why marketing to B2B buyers is like running a marathon. And like any marathon, preparation and training is critical otherwise you run the risk of crashing and burning. Creating great content that generates and nurtures leads is no different. It takes time and resources to build up content credibility so that your brand is seen as an industry authority. It doesn’t happen in a week, or a month, or even a year. It can take longer if you’re starting from scratch, so don’t expect immediate sales increases. The key is to start with a strategic content marketing plan, because the amount of crap is only going to keep getting bigger. Once you have a plan to work, pool together your internal and external resources so you can execute accordingly.
Truthfully, creating useful content is an overwhelming undertaking. It is difficult and uncomfortable to become a publisher of industry subject matter expertise if you’ve never done it before. But it is absolutely critical in order to show up for today’s savvy self-directed buyer. There are no short-cuts.
Consider this: if you think it’s hard for your company to become a great content brand, think of how hard it is for your buyers to sift through all the crap in order to find you. Can you even hope to show up on their radar if you are not sharing something useful?
How is your company dealing with the Content Marketing Deluge? What challenges or successes have you experienced? Share your thoughts and sound off in the comments below or on Twitter (@SterlingKlor).