workman confused - inventoryIf you’re in a marketing role, you’ve probably heard of content marketing. In fact, it’s hard to miss the term since it’s our industry’s newest buzz phrase.

In case you’re not sure what we’re talking about, “content” refers to information you create that’s of interest to your customer prospects. It could be presented in the form of white papers, infographics, blogs, website content, slide presentations, emails, webinars and more.

The Internet and social media have spurred the need for content as marketers rush to fill these web spaces and claim more share-of-mind among prospects. But for B2B marketers, content is more than a fad. It’s a new side of the old saw, “Educated prospects make the best customers.” B2B sales processes almost always require delivering lots of information over a long period of time—and content marketing can be an effective and efficient delivery approach.

Content marketing focuses on getting the right content noticed by the right people. Yes, the strategy requires an investment of time and money. Because content is most often disseminated over the web, many content tactics are time-intensive but entail low outside expenses.

Getting started

How do you begin a content marketing program? Like almost any marcomm activity, first you need a plan—one that spells out:

  • Objectives – What you want to achieve through content marketing.
  • Topics – What do you intend to talk about? (Recommendation: Focus on what buyers want.)
  • Vehicles/venues – Where, when, how and how often will you publish?
  • Audience segments – Who do you need to reach with which topics?

After Objectives, these plan ingredients are presented in no particular order since priorities will vary based on your marketing circumstances. You may have different objectives by audience segment. Topics and vehicles may shift too, based on audience and objective.

Take inventory

The other task you need to do early on–before you create any new content—is to take stock of what you’ve got. An inventory of what exists will:

  • Help you maximize content you already have
  • Prevent you from spending time and money re-creating information
  • Uncover hidden content treasures
  • Identify content holes
  • Spur new thinking about where and how existing content can be used

Your content creation team will thank you for taking this step. It will make developing new content easier by providing a base of resources to start from—and it can help insure consistent messaging (assuming your existing content is on message).

What to inventory

  • White papers
  • Case studies
  • Technical and other trade articles
  • Company-created resource material (charts, graphs, tips)
  • Press releases
  • Brochures
  • Photos – products and people, conceptual images that communicate ideas, industry shots, any image you own
  • Illustrations – technical and conceptual
  • Cartoons and infographics

Ideally these will be things you own and can use without restriction (not content copyrighted by others or rights-managed images you must pay for with each use). If usage restrictions do exist, be sure to note them for your content creation team. You will most likely wind up with a list something like this:

content-inventory-blog-chart

Now that you know what content you have on hand, you’re ready to identify and develop the new content you need. Depending on your inventory, you might even be ready to start marketing with content! (p.s. Don’t forget to keep your content  inventory up to date.)

Need help inventorying existing content, developing a content marketing program or writing engaging content? Contact your CCC account manager or email smcpherson@cccinc.com.

Creative Communications Consultants, Inc. (CCC) is a business-to-business marketing communications agency. We specialize in providing strategic marketing communications thinking and implementation to marketers of industrial and commercial products.