The Content Marketing Challenge

Steve Norall - February 17, 2011

(Part 1 of a regular series of posts analyzing the State of Content Marketing.  The data in these posts is based on primary research sourced from 126 B2B marketing and sales professionals.  Here is a summary of the findings.)

B2B marketers face a difficult conundrum. They lack the time and sustained effort to create the content in order to execute a sophisticated, tailored content marketing strategy.  However, those very content creation activities are the cornerstones of attracting new prospects in the new world of inbound marketing and social media.

We surveyed 126 B2B marketing and sales professionals to get their opinions and insights into their organizations’ strategies and challenges in applying content marketing principles to their business.  A clear theme emerged from our research: producing marketing content is hard. Why? It takes a lot of time and energy to create all of the high impact marketing content needed for today’s sales and marketing campaigns.

43% of respondents reported that the amount of time needed to produce content was the single biggest gate to executing other marketing activities.   The results were more striking when we asked B2B marketers how long it took them to create a content asset from concept to finished product.

biggest challenges creating marketing content

Nearly 43% of marketers reported that it took their organizations between 4 to 8 weeks on average to produce relevant marketing content with a median of 6 weeks across the entire surveyed field.  Moreover, nearly 13% of those surveyed reported that they often spent over three months creating marketing content.  Regardless of the exact duration, it is clear that content creation is a significant impediment to launching new marketing programs.

How Box Created Customer-Content Quickly
Experiencing tremendous growth, Box had an even greater need for customer-based proof points to fuel their marketing and sales processes and less time to make it happen. With TechValidate, Box continues to to build out a collection of case studies, statistics, testimonials and charts.

33% of marketing professionals reported that content was too labor intensive to make. This may be the other side of the “it takes too long time” coin.  Clearly, labor and time requirements are directly related.  However, most marketers would readily agree that you can’t produce quality content by throwing additional resources at it.  Good content demands a swiss watchmaker’s approach.  Marketers must handcraft the messages and details of each piece of content – sometime tailoring individual pieces by industry, geography, and usage model.

Finally, our research showed that 94% of marketing professionals rated content sourced from existing customers as very effective to extremely effective. Customer testimonials and references have long been among the most compelling ways to influence prospects in the B2B marketing space.  The popularity of user generated reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor in the consumer sector are excellent reminders that we are much more likely to believe what a customer says rather than the business itself.

How Lucid Imagination Captured Third-Party Certified Customer Evidence
Lucid Imagination, the open source enterprise search provider, knew that their customers loved their product, but they struggled getting authentic testimonials and references to use in their marketing. With TechValidate, Lucid Imagination published statistical and qualitative marketing assets sourced directly from their customers and leveraged them as proof points on their website here.

Contrast that with the fact that the #3 most cited problem (33%) from our survey was the inability of marketers to get their customers to talk.  For anyone in B2B marketing and sales, this should not be a surprise.  Nonetheless, this problem further exacerbates the issues of creating high impact content.

Stay tuned for future posts as we delve deeper into what our primary research tells us on how B2B marketers are adopting new strategies and tactics around content marketing.

More posts in this series >

Steve Norall

Steve Norall is CEO and Co-Founder of TechValidate. He brings a wealth of experience in both enterprise marketing and software engineering to TechValidate.

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