Business Insights

Business Insights

  • 06 Sep 2021

We’ve been regularly creating content for 7 years - here’s what we’ve learned

We’ve been creating content on a regular basis since way back in 2015. Over the years, content marketing has been central to how we’ve built our brand and grown the business.

Of course these days, that’s fairly typical. 78% of companies now have one to three content specialists on their teams and 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing.
But there’s a big difference between making some content every now and then and doing it consistently to a high standard. Content marketing looks easy, but it’s actually pretty hard. And unless you do it to a high standard you probably won’t drive a positive ROI.
In this piece, we’re going to share a few of the most important things we’ve learned over the years. But before we do that, let’s quickly define what we mean by ‘content marketing’.
Misunderstanding the nature of content marketing is one of the most common mistakes.

 

What is content marketing anyway?

There’s a simple phrase that content marketers often use:

Be the television show, not the ad.

This neatly sums up the difference between content marketing and advertising. Content marketing isn’t advertising. It isn’t interruptive and it doesn’t try to sell or promote directly.

Instead, it gets the audience’s attention by creating things they value. This creates opportunities to convert that attention through the use well-placed CTAs, like this:

B2B Lead Generation: Step-by-Step Guide

Get our complete guide to generating, nurturing and converting leads.

Download the guide

Content marketing can be blog posts, webinars, ebooks, video, social media, infographics - you name it. As long as it’s focused on adding value rather than directly promoting your services, it’s content marketing and not advertising.
With that in mind, what have we learned about doing content marketing over the years?

 

Be crystal clear about your audience

We write for UK SME business owners running companies of 20+ people turning over more than £3 million a year.

Luckily, we also work with UK SME owners just like this every day. We talk to them all the time. We have detailed buyer personas that have been refined over years of working with customers. This gives us a clear picture of who we’re writing for, what they really care about and the kind of content they like to consume.

You can build the best content team in the world, but if you’re not writing with a specific audience in mind and you’re not realistic about what that audience wants, your strategy will fail.

Understanding your audience is everything.


Pick specific topics you know will be of interest

We write about marketing but we don’t write for marketers. This has a big impact on the topics we choose and the level of detail we go into.

Business owners aren’t interested in the minutiae of marketing operations or how to optimise web pages. They pay other people to worry about those things.

They are interested in things like:

We know from working with UK SME owners that strategic topics like increasing revenue and understanding marketing ROI will be of more interest than more tactical topics like increasing email open rates.

We also get content ideas from other sources.

 

Our Part-Time Marketing Directors

Experience is everything. That’s why we consult those who are in the trenches. Our Part-Time Marketing Directors are best placed to know what business owners really care about right now.

 

External Events

What’s happening in the real world? What are business owners worrying about and how can we help?

For instance, in 2020, we created our 2020 Accelerator campaign and webinar that helped business owners take stock of their situation and make a plan for the future. This topical blog post published at the start of the pandemic also performed well:

Success Stories

As the saying goes: ‘show, don’t tell’.

We share our success stories so others can learn from them. It also gives us an opportunity to show prospects how we could help them. Here’s a recent example:


We also share our learnings and experiences from our own marketing. The post you’re reading right now is an example of this.

 

Research

Quantitative and qualitative research together allows us to uncover insights nobody else has come across. Here are two examples from the past year:

 

What Worked Previously

We dig into the performance of our previous campaigns to find out what worked and what didn’t. For instance, we regularly write about lead generation because we know that those posts get a lot of traffic and our lead generation-focused emails get the highest open rates.

 

Invest time and money in quality content

Another phrase you sometimes hear content marketers use is:

“90% of content marketing is people who know nothing about a subject telling people who know a lot about a subject things they already know.”

Most of the content on the internet is low-quality and low-value. If you want your content to perform, it needs to be really well-executed. 

Every week, we run a one-hour content call, where our founder, marketing director and senior subject matter expert share ideas for new content, review drafts and analyse performance.

We also work with a content marketing agency we trust and combine their knowledge of content marketing with our in-house expertise. Together we create a solid strategy and roadmap for the future, as well as a pipeline of new content that’s ready to publish.

 

Make distribution a priority

A common mistake is to prioritise the creation of the content and treat distribution as an afterthought. In fact, you should think the other way around.

After all, it’s the distribution of the content that will get it seen. Without distribution, content may as well not exist.

We have put a lot of time and effort over the years into building a distribution system that combines LinkedIn, our newsletter, our network of Part-Time Marketing Directors and SEO.

We map out distribution for each piece of content in advance, to make sure that everything we create gets seen by as many people as possible.

 

Regularly review performance and adapt

We’re always reviewing our content marketing performance. Once a month we do a deep dive on our analytics and highlight any learnings and opportunities.

We use Hubspot, which creates handy dashboards that show the performance of specific content, campaigns and distribution channels in terms of both traffic and leads generated.

Do you create content? What have you learned along the way?

We’ve got great results from content marketing and we’re not going to stop any time soon. If you have any specific questions on content marketing, feel free to get in touch and we’ll do our best to help.

I’m also really interested to hear from our readers that are creating content. Do you invest in content marketing and is it paying off? What have you learned along the way?

If you have anything you want to share, join the conversation on LinkedIn.

 

What areas of your marketing do you need to focus on?

Our Marketing 360 Assessment takes just 10 minutes to complete and will give you an objective view of what’s going well and what areas you should focus on.

To find out how your marketing compares, check out our Marketing 360 Assessment.

New call-to-action

Written by Pete Jakob

Pete is UK Marketing Director for The Marketing Centre and specialises in marketing systems, data and processes for small and mid-size businesses. He has over 35 years’ experience working in technology and a variety of other sectors.

Help focus and strengthen your business

Do you need highly skilled in-house marketing expertise but simply can’t justify it full time or haven’t found the right person?

Find Out More