I recently read an interesting study by Peppercomm and The Economist titled “Missing the Mark: Global Content Survey of Brand Marketers and their B2B Audiences.” After reading it, I sighed and said, “Amen!” While the survey subjects were “global business executives,” presumably big company execs, the findings can be applied to business owners and entrepreneurs. Here are some of the highlights from the study along with my commentary.
Finding: Executives judge content on its distinctiveness, while marketers judge content on sales.
Our take: Content marketing takes time to work because you need to build trust to build an engaged audience. Of course content marketing is there to move a needle, whether that means leads or brand lift or whatever. However you can only do that when there is a track record of wowing people with the content.
Finding: 85 percent of executives surveyed say the primary reason for creating content is to build brand but 70 percent measure effectiveness of content by lead-related metrics.
Our take: Measuring the success of most content initiatives, especially those to build brand, should be related to the goals at the time. Certainly in the beginning stages brand should be measuring engagement. According to this expert, it takes 15 months to see significant results from a content marketing program. Once you have built audience and trust, you can start to measure the ultimate desired outcome(s), such as leads, brand lift, and so on.
Finding: 31 percent of content strategy is understood throughout an organization.
Our take: 31 percent is higher than I would have guessed because there are many marketers who are involved in creating content initiatives that don’t have a coherent strategy (so how will anyone else understand?). See question #1 here. At a bare minimum your salesforce should be aware of your content strategy and offerings. We have done everything from participating on conference calls with sales managers to discuss how they can use the content we have prepared in a sales setting to creating a bulletin with an overview of the latest content batches that gets distributed to the sales force.
Finding: 35 percent of executives report that they have encountered content that turned them off because they did not perceive it to be trustworthy.
Our take: Content, at a minimum should give a brand lift, not do it harm. Unfortunately we have seen way too much content for SMBs that is incorrect or so weak that it turns off all but the most novice entrepreneur. As we have previously said, whether your content is coming from internal or external experts you need to be sure that the content is accurate and goes beyond the obvious. Once a reader finds something inaccurate or written very naively, trust goes out the window.
Finding: 85 percent of executives prefer text vs. audio or video.
Our take: I am glad to see this stat and here is why: many marketers get excited by the latest thing (not that video and audio are the latest thing, but you get what I mean). Surely there is a place for audio and video and certainly for infographics and images. But this confirms that business people want text, probably because it is easy to consume anywhere, anyhow. It is critical that content is not only great, but is in the format that the desired audience prefers.
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