Did you see the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmark report? There are a lot of important stats in it. However, the two most glaring, to me, are these:

“44% of B2B marketers say their organization is clear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like; 55% are unclear or unsure.”

-and-

“Only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, down from 38% last year.”

These numbers? They don’t surprise me. I have two kids in a lot of activities. And there are some weekends where my diet has been a consistent stream of granola bars, whatever a boosters parent is selling at a concession stand (popcorn and Tootsie Pops anyone?) and beer (it is the weekend after all). At the end of that weekend I say to myself “I need to eat better.” That’s the easy part. Actually doing it, however, is not.

There is a huge gap between wanting to do something and actually doing something. That gap is what separates you. It’s what proves if you’re successful. You can apply the same mentality to content marketing. Convincing an organization they need to do it isn’t the hard part. Implementing it, is. Maybe that’s because so many organizations start with implementation, when what should be the first step, discovery, is often overlooked. When people tell me they want to implement anything, the first question I ask is ‘what does success look like’? This does two things – 1.) allows everyone else in the organization to understand what success looks like and 2.) creates a touchstone that will guide you when it feels like you are deviating from the plan.

At this year’s Content Marketing World, Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, talked about a ‘trough of disillusionment’. I loved that he did and I couldn’t have said it better myself. We are seeing a lot of companies excited about a content marketing strategy, leaving Content Marketing World excited to create and drive change within their organizations. However, that excitement is quickly replaced with frustration and concern that their organization doesn’t ‘get it’.

I asked Patsie Dionise, the Director of our Optimization team, what she feels is the most common mistake:

“The most common mistake is also the easiest to correct—failing to establish a foundation, or starting point. You can’t just jump in and start producing content and expect to be effective. You have to have well documented buy cycles, buyer profiles (personas), a library of existing content and an understanding of the tools/technologies you’ll need to effectively measure your programs. And most of all you need alignment from all key internal stake holders.”

She’s right. In fact, as we learned earlier this year in our Marketing & Business Integration Outlook report, a poor operational infrastructure affects more than just the success of a content marketing program. It was the number one barrier (at 37%) to measuring the success of any program. On the heels of that? Lack of internal knowledge (at 31%).

Content marketing can have an incredible impact on your business. It may be the most tangible metric we have for showing the value marketing has on a company’s goals and objectives. But just like anything else, it requires a process and the discipline to follow that process. This is our chance, as marketers, to lead.

If you’d like to learn more about our approach to developing and implementing a content marketing strategy, please call (330.463.5650) or email me directly