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In 2011, marketers began saying that "content marketing is more important than advertising" and given the growth of content marketing in 2012, it would appear that they meant what they said.

And not just in the consumer space. Although selling content marketing to leadership has been a challenge for some B2B marketers, the use of content marketing at B2B organizations is growing rapidly.

As B2B marketers become more familiar with content marketing specifically, best practices are emerging. But that doesn't mean that mistakes aren't being made. Here are five of the biggest.

#1: Overemphasizing external distribution channels

Distribution is crucial to any successful content marketing effort and for an obvious reason: great content can't deliver great results unless it finds its way into the hands of the right people.

Unfortunately, many companies overemphasize external distribution channels. While there's a role for, say, press releases and social media, content marketing space, it's important not to underestimate the importance of building up homegrown channels, such as your company's own website. When used properly, a company website can be a powerful distribution channel and highly effective lead generator.

#2: Not segmenting

Segmentation is a big part of B2B content marketing. It's very difficult to produce ROI if you don't identify your target audiences, develop content relevant to them and deliver that content through the segment-appropriate channels.

The bad news: many B2B content marketers aren't thoughtful about who their company needs to reach, which messages will resonate best with decision-makers and how to reliably get those messages in front of them.

#3: Dumbing the content down

Content targeted toward a B2B audience must, like in the B2C world, be compelling. Design and presentation do matter. But many companies are fooled into believing that the sizzle is where it's at. The reality, however, is that with B2B content, a snazzy infographic or controversial blog post can draw eyeballs, but to successfully sell your products and services, presenting the steak -- the what, how and why of your offering -- matters.

#4: Being too impersonal

B2B shouldn't stand for "boring to businesspeople." Yes, B2B content marketing probably isn't going to be as fun or edgy as B2C content marketing, but that doesn't mean that it should be bland and impersonal.

There's certainly a place for some of the most popular formats in a B2B content marketer's toolkit, such as case studies, white papers and infographics, but too many companies sell themselves short by thinking that content marketing can't be more than PDFs containing pretty graphics and charts.

At the end of the day, deals are closed by people, not bits and bytes or pieces of paper. So be creative and think about how your business can use content to introduce its people to the world, not just its products and services.

#5: Not evaluating ROI based on the sales cycle

Companies are increasingly aware of the importance of measuring the results of marketing campaigns, but measurement is meaningless if you're not measuring the right things.

The B2B sales cycle can be complex, and it's highly variable depending on industry and even company. As such, measurement of content marketing initiatives requires alignment to the sales cycle to ensure that sales driven or influenced by content marketing efforts are captured, and accurately attributed. This is something that many companies don't do, or don't yet do well enough.

Patricio Robles

Published 21 December, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2355 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

Graeme Benge

Graeme Benge, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

Any publisher needs to establish a voice, regardless of industry. That is a theme I come back to more often than not when discussing how to approach content with clients. Find the right voice and you can make virtually anything engaging.

over 3 years ago

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MaAnna

I help both small businesses and solopreneurs so my promotion stratagies are a mix of what both find appealing. I'm finding that your segmentation suggestion is the one that I need to really pay more attention to in 2013 to ensure that I'm presenting my offers properly to each audience.

over 3 years ago

John Waghorn

John Waghorn, Content Marketer at Koozai Ltd

Good article. Content is effective and important, but in order for a good idea to have a great impact, it needs to go to the right places as Patricio points out. It’s always worth establishing this first before any content goes to waste further down the line. No matter what industry you work in, or whether your line of work is B2B or B2C, there will always be a way to be creative with your content and if this means thinking outside the box then so be it.

over 3 years ago

Guy Cookson

Guy Cookson, CMO and Co-Founder at Respond Native Advertising Platform

"...it's important not to underestimate the importance of building up homegrown channels, such as your company's own website. When used properly, a company website can be a powerful distribution channel and highly effective lead generator."

That's absolutely right, however once great content has been produced on homegrown channels an audience must be found for it, and one of the most effective ways to do that is through advertising that's in-tune with the objective of getting people to engage. Traditional display won't cut it, that's one of the reasons why we developed Respond.

over 3 years ago

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