4 Ways To Kickstart Your B2B Content Marketing In 2015

b2b-content-marketing

The Content Marketing Institute states that 93% of B2B marketers are using content marketing in 2014. So it’s safe to assume that you’re probably well on your way with a content marketing strategy. But you may want to put more resources toward it in 2015.

There are four ways you can boost your B2B content marketing efforts—here is an analysis of each option: 

1) Teach yourself and spread out the workload.

Your first choice is to crank up content marketing with the current resources you have. That means that one person (like a marketing manager or director) needs to be the point person and expert. That person needs to get other departments like sales, executives, HR, and others to chip in. You’ll have to figure out where to scoop up some time without negatively impacting other parts of the business and how to carve out some budget without killing your current marketing returns.

Costs: A cost analysis is hard to do if you aren’t adding any additional resources (like budget or people). Since this option is a zero-sum game (if you add content, you’ll have to take away an equal amount of time or money elsewhere), the costs you’ll incur will depend on how much you decide to devote.

What you need internally: 

  • A point person to learn as much as possible about B2B content marketing strategy and devote time to plan out blog posts, white papers, email funnels, social strategy, and more.
  • Additional contributors within the company to write blog posts, take time out for interviews, etc. (Can your salespeople write?)
  • An editor to make sure the content is grammatically correct and on brand.
  • Design resources. Do you have a designer on staff who could carve out some time every week for marketing materials?

What you need to learn about:

  • Buyer personas and buyer questions
  • Editorial calendars
  • Content marketing strategy
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Business blogging
  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Analytics

Recommended resources:

2) Hire a staff member.

If you’re willing to add investment for content marketing, hiring a staff member can be a logical choice. A content marketing manager, for example, could coordinate and run all of your content efforts. Depending on the size of your company, they could probably even write the content themselves.

Before you decide that hiring a full-time marketing position is a good way to go, look at the resources you currently have. There are a lot of skills needed to execute content marketing (SEO/technical skills, writing/editing, creative/graphic design, email marketing, social media, etc.). If you don’t have some of those skilled positions in place, hiring a full-time person may help, but you’ll still have to invest externally to get good content created.

Costs:

  • Average marketing manager salary: $59,916 (according to PayScale)
  • Additional employee cost: 40% of salary (according to MIT)
    • = $83,882 in yearly cost to hire an average marketing manager

Keep in mind that this is the cost without factoring in training or efficiency erosion. (In other words, this cost would require someone who is up to speed from day one, and is efficient 100% of the time they are in the office.)

What you need internally:

  • A budget for PPC, SEO, design, and a marketing software system.
  • The ability to focus on long-term strategy. (You need to give content marketing at least 6 months to get going.)
  • An understanding of content marketing in order to hire a good fit.
  • Willingness to cut ties with the employee if it doesn’t work out.

What to look for in a marketing candidate:

  • Content marketing experience.
  • The ability to coordinate a number of teams and projects.
  • Experience with marketing automation software.
  • If you don’t have dedicated people internally, this person will also need these technical skills to execute content:
    • SEO/HTML
    • Writing/editing
    • Creative/graphic design
    • Email marketing
    • Social media
    • Analytics

3) Partner with an agency.

Your third option is to partner with an inbound marketing or content marketing agency. There are positives and negatives to this approach.

On one hand, since you’re hiring from the outside, this agency will not have your industry’s knowledge. This could be a drawback because you need to be an expert to create good content. On the other hand, it could also be a plus, because the agency could provide fresh eyes and cut through industry jargon.

By a long shot, the main benefit of hiring an agency is that they will have all of the necessary skills in-house to execute content marketing.

Costs:

  • Typical agencies will bill between $4,000 and $10,000 per month to successfully execute content marketing
    • = Between $48,000 and $120,000 to hire an agency for a year

Keep in mind, some agencies will require a one-year contract while others will bill month-to-month. The idea behind the one-year contract is that it will take about that long to see good results, so it’s a smart idea for the agency. However, what happens if you can’t stand working with the agency by the third month? Get a few proposals from different agencies before making a commitment like this.

What you need internally:

  • Stakeholders who are willing to occasionally share their industry knowledge with the agency through short interviews.
  • The ability to focus on long-term strategy. (You need to give content marketing at least 6 months to get going.)
  • At least one hour per week to meet with the agency to discuss strategy and results.

What to look for in an agency:

  • Willingness and ability to continually learn your industry.
  • Team members who are marketing managers, writers/editors, graphic designers, coders, email marketers, and social media strategists.
  • An understanding of your goals with a realistic path to reach them with content marketing.
  • The ability to contribute at least 40-50 hours per month to your company.

Recommended resource:

4) Hire contract writers.

If you have a full-time marketing manager or team on staff already, you can go the route of hiring contract writers. There are a number of online marketplaces where you can find writers of all talent levels. Keep in mind that you’ll get what you pay for (from cheap, bad, and expensive, good). The plan here would be to have one internal person managing all of the content marketing strategy and assigning content creation to contractors who are outside the company. These people will charge per word or article, and speaking from experience, you’ll most likely be frustrated with a number of them before finding a few that can write well, research your industry, and keep the content on brand.

Costs:

  • Typical rates are usually between 5 cents/word to 30 cents/word
  • Apply 10 articles per month at a 600-word average…
    • = Between $300/month and $1800/month for content only

Keep in mind that this is just for the content—you’ll still have to pay a full-time marketing person to manage the strategy, edit this content, format it, input it into your CMS system, and distribute it.

What you need internally:

  • An internal marketing manager.
  • A great editor on staff.
  • Technical staff members (design, SEO/HTML, email marketing, etc.).
  • An account with Zerys or a similar content marketplace.

What to look for in contract writers:

  • Writing samples.
  • A wide range of industries they’ve written for.
  • The ability to learn/research your industry and company.
  • Good reviews on their online profiles.
  • Time and availability to dedicate to you on a weekly basis.

My unbiased summary. (I promise.)

This part is up to you. But I wanted to provide as unbiased as an analysis as possible. Obviously, I think hiring an agency is the best option, but I’m not going to steer you that way just because I think so.

In all honesty, I’ve worked for companies and in situations where we’ve used each of these options as ways to deliver on content marketing. What it comes down to is the personnel you have on board. If you have a really good content marketer and editor on your team, it’ll work to hire contract writers. They will be frustrated at first, but it will save money. If you have a full marketing team including designers, an SEO guy, and writers, plus also have the budget to hire a content marketing manager, it could make the most sense to hire someone for that position. They will have all the necessary resources in place to succeed.

But, if you don’t have some of these technical marketing skills on the team and don’t have the time to devote to content (along with all of your other efforts), it makes the most sense to hire an agency. They’ll be able bring in the skills and strategy to execute content marketing. (And if it doesn’t work out, it’s much easier to fire an agency than a full-time employee!)


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