One of the biggest complaints we hear about outsourcing B2B content is that what they get back is often substandard and unusable. It requires re-working by in-house subject matter experts, and that defeats the purpose of outsourcing in the first place.
If you’ve been watching Hubspot’s statistics about publishing frequencies where they suggest that 16 posts per month (4/week) yields 5.3 times more leads, and you’ve been burned outsourcing content production in the past, that number looks pretty scary.
If you’re talking about content creation for the bottom-of-the-funnel, where prospects are closer to making a decision for purchase (such as sales sheets, product marketing materials, comparison documents, technical white papers), a writer without subject matter expertise may quickly find themselves in the weeds.
While it’s true that this level of content is harder to write and outsource, the good news is you don’t actually need that much of it.
Most B2B companies that have engaged in content marketing initiatives have a problem at the top of the funnel—meaning that they need to drive more traffic to their website, intrigue people to open emails, click on social media posts, all to have more chances to convert them into qualified leads for sales people.
Content for Lead Generation Should Focus on Business Problems, Not Solutions.
At the top of the funnel, they’re not ready to hear about your solutions yet. It’s about identifying business problems that generate interest.
Chances are that the content at this level is going to be easier to produce and easier to outsource, and this is the level of content where you’ll need the most volume.
Content generation for the top-of-the-funnel requires good journalism skills, as opposed to subject matter expertise. In fact, the job of any good journalist is to extract expertise through interviews and research and communicate it in such a way that it garners interest from the reader. (while showing that your brand understands customers’ pain.)
So whether the prospect found you in an email, organic search, or social media—it doesn’t really matter. The goal of content creation at the top of the funnel is to strike a nerve with that high-probability pain.
Extracting Subject Matter Expertise
Thought leadership content requires having a good approach for extracting content from your subject matter experts. Great writers who can interview the client over the phone or conduct video interviews can create highly engaging content that the search engines love, and that your prospects love, that is more top of the funnel.
For example, at the beginning of an engagement, we assign a managing editor and content strategist who will conduct as many as three 90-minute meetings with subject matter experts, and then audit existing content, look at what the competitors are producing, and make a determination about what content needs to be created.
Their whole job is to identify the high-probability pains that you solve for clients. Then, it’s much easier to identify topics to write about and produce videos and infographics about. Skilled content creators ensure that they get the information they need from the subject matter experts when they conduct interviews.
Look at it this way—a prospect that is just shopping around in the beginning isn’t going to be willing to give up their information and fill out a form for anything that isn’t meaningful and doesn't add value, especially because they know that a sales person is going to call them, and they’re not ready.
All you want to do at this stage is capture their interest, nurture them with more content until they are sales ready, and then pass it to a sales person. Once they’re engaged in finding a solution, then you can pull out your technical white papers.