It’s Time To Blow Up Your T-Shirt Cannon.
Today’s B2B marketer has access to more data and insights than ever before. They believe this is all they need, so they feed these inputs into their massive content factories—powered by agencies and in-house teams. Then they crank out tons of one-size-fits-no-one content, ship that content around the globe via ever-smarter machines, and fire it at hapless buyers like a mascot at halftime trying to rally a halfhearted crowd with a T-shirt cannon.
When this content fails to inspire action, they wonder why.
Content Under Pressure
These days, every piece of B2B content carries tremendous weight. As Chris Ross at Gartner said back in 2017, “Brands are under pressure to inspire, inform and entertain, both in the moment and at regular intervals—every day, ad infinitum.”
His suggestion for sustainable B2B content marketing is to build “a content supply chain that addresses sourcing, manufacturing and distribution of content to achieve speed and scale.”
But speed and scale don’t do anything if your content doesn’t connect with buyers.
Enterprise demand centers often function like content factories: standardizing inputs and process so you can crank out higher volumes of content at a higher velocity.
But what you manufacture is only as good as the raw materials.
If your inputs are crap, you can bet your buyers won’t be thrilled when you hit them in the face with a higher volume of crap flung at them at a higher velocity than ever before.
The Content Factory Model Is Broken
Over the years, we’ve worked with some of the largest companies on the planet.
In the early days, we regularly got calls from one of these companies to help them up-level their demand center content. At the same time, the agencies that were failing to deliver for this company were calling us and asking for help on the exact same projects.
The clients were saying:
“Why does our content suck?
“Why doesn’t it resonate or move the needle?”
“Where is the value?”
“We need better agencies.”
And the agencies were saying:
“It is always the writers. We need better writers!”
None Of This Will Fix The Problem
The problem isn’t in hiring better writers or a different agency. The problem is that you’re working with a broken content marketing model.
The supply chain model, for all its volume and efficiency, flows the wrong direction. It flows from the brand to the customer, when it should flow from the buyer to the brand—and then back again.
The technology stack that helps marketers deliver content at scale also isolates your marketing team from the most important input they need to create truly impactful content—your customers.
Who knew? The customer is the key to customer-centric content.
Back in 2013, Jack Hughes wrote in the Harvard Business Review:
“Supply chain management is about taking out cost and making process efficient, but…this won’t be enough; value chain management is about how to create value; how to coordinate the continuous innovations of creative contributors and how to make that process efficient for the consumer and the contributor. And creative networks will bring the same scale to creativity that social networks do to our to our circles of friends.”
Regardless of how smart, award-winning, or creative your team is, if you aren’t building content in partnership with your audience and the people who influence them—the most powerful creative network you have at your disposal—you are missing a massive opportunity to resonate with your audience and move them to action.
Instead, you’ll be building content that fails to inspire. Content that’s lacking value, that fails to build trust. Content that’s missing the raw material and energy you need to delight audiences at scale, earn their trust, and move the needle.
It’s Time To Blow Up Your B2B T-Shirt Cannon
Sure, some customers might dutifully go through a gate, download an eBook, and brace themselves for the barrage of emails, texts, calls, and content that will invariably come next.
But if you’re relying on a supply chain approach to fuel your demand center, this is the year to fix what’s broken with this model—the inputs—and blow up your T-shirt cannon.
Your brand can’t afford not to.
At The Storied Future, we call our methodology for transforming the content supply chain “atomic storytelling.”
We’ll explore how to use atomic storytelling to build great content in our next article. Until then, see how we used this framework to help SAP Concur build a small business community.