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“Which came first: The content or the campaign?” doesn’t always evoke a simple, black and white answer – even though it might sound fairly easy to answer on the surface.
Here’s why: Content creation teams and Demand Gen teams do, indeed, often work within the same marketing departments.
However, Demand Gen is focused on campaigns, promotion, lead collection and scoring, persona-building, and sending MQLs to sales. Content teams, on the other hand, are focused on messaging, branding, educating, and storytelling.
And while they’re often working together, they tend to think very differently – and have different end goals and objectives that don’t always line up.
So how do these two teams work together more effectively? Data on the current state of B2B content marketing and feedback from those working within the industry offer insights into solutions – and it’s clear that communication and integrated teamwork lies at the core of more effective content and campaigns.
Let’s take a more detailed look at some of those research and insights.
One of the first places we can look to answer this question is from a zoomed out, macro perspective of the B2B content marketing landscape as a whole.
Data from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs highlighted some interesting takeaways about the current state of B2B content marketing, including:
Data from Regalix’s 2016 State of B2B Marketing Report also showed that:
These findings show that there are clearly some common themes in regard to a need for communication, clarity, and collaboration between both Content and Demand Gen teams – but what do real people who are working within the industry have to say about content vs. campaigns?
We asked around to see what marketers had to say.
Those working within the world of B2B marketing noted that there is definitely a disconnect between content and demand gen teams – and the cause of this is often due to poor communication and juxtaposed objectives.
Shayla Price, a B2B content marketer said, “Communication is the issue for B2B marketing right now. Teams must work together to align their goals and actions to earn their desired results.”
“You can't put a piece of content in front of a member of the sales team and expect them to use it in an effective manner,” Adam Bullock of MKG Marketing said. “They need to know WHEN in the funnel to use it, and WHY. Ensure someone in sales knows what an asset is, why it exists, and where in the funnel it should be delivered.”
Ritika Puri of Storyhackers, a content marketing agency that caters to B2B companies, says that resources are another big issue.
“I think the biggest struggle right now is spend efficiency/resource allocation. Companies across the board, from startups to enterprise, aren't sure how to spend limited content marketing budgets. There are so many options and so many potential paths forward. I think companies are going to put heavy thought into their content strategy layers in 2017,” she said.
From this data and feedback, we can glean a few key things:
1. Effectiveness of content marketing is still fairly low. Only 30% feel their efforts are performing well. This percentage could likely be higher if there was greater understanding between Content and Demand Gen Teams.
For example: The Content team needs to be much more informed about the qualifying criteria Demand Gen uses, personas they're creating, and channels they’re using. On the other hand, the Demand Gen team needs to be involved in content creation meetings and long-term messaging and branding initiatives.
2. Lead Gen is extremely important for both teams. If content and demand gen teams aren’t communicating effectively, this disconnect can hurt the efforts of both teams – and that means wasted time and company investment. Instead of working on separate initiatives, they should be working together to create content-enabled campaigns.
Essentially, the two teams need to work more closely together and to have more open dialogue. What often happens, however, is: "The content team just created these three ebooks – go create campaigns around them" or "Demand gen needs five blog posts promoting each of these three things – content needs to write them." This siloed workflow creates those disconnects that cause trouble down the road.
So what can be done to improve both content and campaigns?
Based on the feedback and data, it’s clear there’s a need for a few key facets in an effective Content and Demand Gen partnership:
1. Regular communication about objectives. Both teams need to regularly meet to discuss what goals they are working toward, and there needs to be discussion around how the team members can help each other achieve those goals. Both Content and Demand Gen teams need to understand what the other team is working toward and why.
2. Both teams need to share their goals and strategies. It’s not enough to stop at what and why. Both Content and Demand Gen teams need to share their strategies and incorporate them into daily work and projects for more collaborative workflows and outcomes.
3. Communication is key. This might mean using solutions like Slack for regular communication throughout the workday, or more in-person meetings (remember, the data showed that more meetings equaled more effective marketing efforts.) Keeping the communication flowing means better understanding between the two teams.
4. Regular reporting and progress check-ins. Keeping teams updated with how projects are progressing, and explaining results across the board in a way that everyone can understand will help team members know what’s working and what’s not. This keeps everyone on the same page as projects progress, and allows strategies to be tweaked and perfected along the way more effectively.
As an open dialogue is forged between these two teams and they begin working together toward mutual, complementary goals on a regular basis, their work becomes much more valuable to the company as a whole.
Now that we’ve covered some essential points on marketing team dynamics, it’s a bit easier to answer that question we posed at the beginning, “Which came first: The content or the campaign?”
Smart, effective teams know that content and campaigns should be born together – not necessarily one before the other. Content and campaigns should work side by side to achieve the marketing department’s core objectives.
This is the heart of content for sales enablement – and it drives ROI in a whole new way.