Content Marketing: Benchmark Your Company Vs. Your Peers


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Content marketing gets a lot of buzz these days, but what is it exactly? Well, let’s break it down: “Content” is material your prospective customers find relevant, that is, it's material they can use to help them solve a problem. For example, a list of 10 tips for better design for manufacturing would be an example of relevant content. And the “marketing” part just means having a system of getting this content in front of the eyeballs of your target audience on a regular basis.

So why is content marketing such a big deal? One word: Credibility. Content marketing allows a company to showcase its knowledge in its area of expertise. It's one thing to say you're the best at something, but content marketing allows you to back up your claim. Content marketing allows companies to differentiate themselves from competitors. While everyone else is using the same old, tired sales pitch, content marketers are publishing information prospective customers find useful and relevant. 

I thought it would be fun to share the results of a survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs of B2B companies use of content marketing.) And for the usual crowd of doubters that say this stuff doesn’t apply to them, this survey was specifically for companies with less than 100 employees):

  • Ninety-four percent report they're using content marketing.
  • Fourty-five percent believe they're effective at content marketing.
  • Fourty-eight percent have a documented content strategy.
  • Seventy-five percent are producing more content than a year ago.
  • Sixty percent plan to increase content marketing over next 12 months.
  • Thirty-four percent outsource at least some content creation.
  • Twenty-seven percent of marketing budget goes to content marketing.

Okay, let’s discuss these findings. The first two I think we have to take together. Ninety-four percent seems like a lot, but then only around half of them think they're effective. This is suggestive that half of the crowd are making a half-hearted attempt at it. Maybe they are kind of making a sales pitch and calling it content marketing (I see that a lot).

About half of the respondents have a documented content strategy. This is good. Anyone who writes regularly--be it a blog, content marketing material, or even (ahem) a column--needs to have an editorial calendar or they will fall behind and their content schedule will fall apart.

The next two figures about increased content creation indicate one thing: A belief that it is working. No one says, “Well, that didn’t work, so we will do some more."

The second to last figure on outsourcing some content creation shows three things: It can be worthwhile outsourcing to someone who's a better writer or has more time than you do. Content creation does cost money, at least in terms of opportunity cost a small businessperson might have spent the time doing something else productive--and that content marketing is worth investing in. This last point is driven home in the final statistic. This shows that these companies aren’t thinking of content marketing as a throw away “If we get some time we will do that” effort, it's recognized as just as integral a part of an overall marketing plan as trade shows or advertising.

I will wrap up this week’s column with one more statistic: LinkedIn found in a survey of its members that they spend over three hours a week consuming business related content. And with a quarter million PCB related LinkedIn members, from whom are your customers getting their content?

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