Though relatively new, content marketing is already a fiercely competitive category. Our scan of LinkedIn reveals over 3.5 million people who claim to be skilled in ‘content marketing’, 24,000 people with the job title ‘Content Specialist’, and content marketing groups which collectively count around 600,000 members.
Because the barriers to entry are almost non-existent – the entry-level setup requirements are a computer and an internet connection, really – the market is already densely populated with providers ranging from content sweatshops which churn out blogs at the rate of 1.3 cents per word, through to high-end agencies which charge a good deal more for a much higher quality product.
And we’d be foolish for thinking there aren’t a few computer-generated offerings in the mix there as well. Gartner predicts by 2018, 20 percent of all business content will be authored by machines.
The abundance of choice has contributed to a large proportion of businesses outsourcing their content creation, if not their content marketing as-a-whole.
Software company Curata reports over 60 per cent of companies now outsource content creation, and leading business bloggers outsource around one-quarter of their blog posts.
The Content Marketing Institute’s most recent data indicates B2B marketers farm out an average of 44 percent of their content creation, with B2B technology marketers outsourcing the most (average 57 per cent).
Having established there is both the need and appetite for engaging outside content marketing assistance, the question is then how do you choose the right external solution? Is sweat-shop standard good enough?
In business-to-business marketing, the answer is a firm ‘no’. And the reason is surprisingly simple.
B2B marketing is complicated.
The sales cycle is generally long. The buyers are many, are educated, and are well informed. The subject matter is often technical, jargonistic.
Added to this, Google has become judgmental. It’s no longer sufficient to fuel the SEO engine with regular content. To be respected and ranked by Google, you must produce high-quality content. And long-form content.
In B2B environments – particularly in the services and intangible product categories where we reside – the creation of high quality, engaging, thought-provoking content takes time.
It takes time to research.
It takes time to consider.
It takes time because it necessitates complex ideas be distilled into plain English or some other digestible form.
As well as being a talented communicator, a successful B2B content creator will also be a strategic thinker, have a heightened sense of curiosity, strong general knowledge, and advanced analytical and research skills.
And ideally, they’ll have industry knowledge and experience.
You won’t access all this for 1.3 cents per word, not even close.
Invest in content creation. Your target audience will see through poorly written, inadequately researched, irrelevant or unoriginal content. And once they switch off, it will be near impossible to turn them back on.