The demand for fresh, new content suggests B2B marketers need to audit existing content and implement an editorial plan

One of the biggest challenges to B2B marketers is the elusive nature of content marketing at a time when content correctly done can improve search engine rankings, drive new traffic to websites, and nurture and nudge leads all the way through the sales cycle. It was not that long ago when companies created content only when they had something new to say. Today, companies are driven to constantly produce new content across all channels.

Creating content that gets people's attention is ideal but you need to reach the right people and you need to know who they are. That is easier said then done. Building and identifying a B2B buyer persona suggests that once you know who your buyers are and what their needs are, the end goal is to develop content that appeals and is better able to reach your intended target.

According to a recent report by MLT Creative, a study entitled “How to create relevant content for B2B marketing” suggests one of the best ways to build and identify a buyer persona is through content. Additionally, conducting a content audit is the best way to see if you have content assets and further, having content in the bank to publish in the coming weeks, months and year is essential.

The study recommends taking stock and suggests that conducting a content audit is an important first step. By collecting all the content created in the past year from blogs to podcasts, eBooks to video, a B2B marketer can create a spreadsheet and by studying the spreadsheet, patterns will emerge. If your organization is heavy on some topics and light on others, or whether you've got enough content for each buyer persona, the spreadsheet and audit will determine where you content bank is coming up short.

The study also suggests that an editorial calendar will generate awareness and ensure you have the right content for each stage of the sales funnel. That cycle begins with making a potential buyer aware that the company is in the business of solving a particular need, and that you have done your research on the company and the services it offers. It also includes a comparison and validation stage where your prospect starts reviewing their options. Then, there is the potential for a purchase or relationship where the buyer makes a decision to hopefully buy from your company. The study also claims that with an editorial calendar you can use blog posts and social media updates to breed awareness; eBooks, webinars and industry reports can offer research; case studies, demos and customer testimonials lend comparison; and analyst reports and detailed product information enable a buyer to make a decision to purchase.

An editorial calendar should be set up to include article topics, content channels and deliverables planned at least three months in advance, depending on your business you can plan more than a year in advance, the study suggests. While the editorial calendar is an excellent strategic map, the report suggests that creating relevant content is probably the most important ingredient to the overall strategy.

Relevant content should include industry news, and keeping up with news feeds as well as monitoring social conversations as a way to generate story ideas. Building a team of content creators should include the sales team, project managers and even customers. Keeping a content bank of completed stories that can be plugged in is a great way for things to stay fresh.

Additionally, repurposing content enables a video to be used in a blog post, or a webinar can be presented as an eBook presentation. Video production can be simplified into shorter videos filmed at a tradeshow or listed on the website. Writing an annual best of feature, with your best blog posts in an e-book is a great way to meet the ongoing demands to be fresh and original. Also, original research and offering expertise and reposting on Facebook, Twitter, doing surveys etc gets people to engage and puts your brand out there quickly and over the long term. Variety, also, is important and reaching out beyond the boundaries of your usual subjects is an excellent idea. As the study notes, the world at large is your content cabinet. Keeping open to the possibilities are endless.

Finally, the study emphasizes the importance of having content stored for use at a moments notice. The best type is evergreen content which consist of stories that offer ideas for saving money or time, how to articles that solve basic or intermediate challenges, and inspirational articles that motivate people to do new thing or look at problems in new ways.

Ultimately, although content alone is not enough to be an effective B2B inbound marketing strategy, it is a great foundation the study notes.

Combining great content with SEO, social media, lead nurturing, measurement and analysis is a winning solution. The study suggests building on your buyer persona, making a full inventory of the content you have and that content you don't have, map it out so your content fits your buying cycle. Finally develop an editorial calendar and find new ways to get your content to go beyond the usual suspects, with a backlog of stories on hand to meet short-term goals if the need arises.