B2B Brands Stumped By Strategy

B2B Brands Stumped By Strategy

Content Marketing Institute continues to find new ways to slice and dice their 2016 study of business-to-business content benchmarks. Most recently, they released a report focused on larger enterprises (1,000+ employees), with findings that closely mirrored the more general report they released earlier in the year.

In a post highlighting a few key insights from the report, Joe Pulizzi pointed to four characteristics shared by the “most effective” B2B content marketers — for me, chief among these is the fact that 75% of these leaders have a written content (marketing) strategy. Contrast this to the broader base of respondents, where that number stands at a pretty paltry 35% (up from 31% last year but still low).

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Where “only” 17% admit to not having a content marketing strategy, 39% claim to have a strategy but haven’t taken the time to write it down and 8% are “unsure” — both of which, in my view, amount to having no strategy at all. As I’ve written on this blog before:

Even if — technically speaking — someone, somewhere in the organization has created or commissioned a content strategy, if other people in the organization aren’t using it every day to guide their own content initiatives, then — practically speaking — the strategy does not exist.

And the fact that nearly 2/3 of enterprise-level B2B brands do not have a content marketing strategy is all the more troubling given that, according to the CMI report, 87% of respondents use content marketing, spending (on average) 25% of their budget on this particular tactic.

Believe it or not, that’s the good news! Here’s why..

Given that relatively few enterprises have a documented content strategy, it’s not surprising to see that even fewer find their own content marketing programs to be effective — just 22%, according to the CMI study. This stat shows a decrease in effectiveness year-over-year. What’s truly shocking though is the fact that only 29% report knowing what success would even look like.

Only 22% of B2B Brands Say Content Marketing Effective

Only 29% of B2B Marketers Know What Content Marketing Success Looks Like

If I might be so bold as to interpret all of these findings together:

The vast majority of B2B enterprises are investing a not-insubstantial portion of their marketing budgets in a tactic for which they’ve established neither objectives nor strategy, and therefore judge their efforts to be ineffective.

The solution is deceptively simple — every marketing decision must begin with clear, measurable objectives that inform a carefully considered strategy. Do this well, and document it all. Then execute… Maybe this is easier said than done. Surely there’s a lot of unrealized potential for content in the enterprise. Certainly it’s a good time to be a content strategist.

For more insights about what separates the best from the rest,  download the full report.


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