It’s that time of year when the content marketing predictions fly around. This infographic from MarktingProfs and The Content Marketing Institute has several.

As usual, some of the data is nonsensical.

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So why are the 34% who aren’t getting ROI going to spend more in 2015??

With that question in mind, let’s discuss the 3 keys to achieving ROI for B2B content marketers.

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1. Long-term content strategy

The research above points out a correlation between successful ROI among those B2B companies which have a documented content marketing strategy plus the discipline to stick with it over the long haul. This makes good sense. Having been around a lot of business-to-business marketers, I’ve seen how quickly they change direction.

Can you go ahead and give this post a +1?

Any disciplined approach is going to yield better long-term results than a scattershot approach. Companies resort to scattershot when they need something that will radically shoot up their sales. This often happens when upper management doesn’t really believe in content marketing. Then the marketing group must move the needle rapidly to prove that content marketing works.

A long-term strategic and disciplined approach might not move the needle rapidly, but it will yield better long-term results. It’s a lot like investing in the stock market. If you aim to score big money fast, you increase your risk. If you take the longer, more disciplined approach, then you will make more money over the long haul.

But I think successful content marketing is more than just strategy + discipline. The survey focused on that, but I’m going further.

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2. Realistic content marketing goals

Companies need to be much more clear about what can be achieved with content marketing. After all, content should just one part of an overall strategic marketing initiative. by now most mature B2B marketers know there is no such thing as a silver bullet.

So what are some realistic goals?

Long-term lead engagement – Social media is a great way to build an audience and nurture it along more slowly. But you’ve got to have something to point them to, some way to engage them on your website. You must become a thought leader.

Thought leadership development – I’m convinced people in business are still reading trade magazines long after they gave up on consumer magazines. Why? Because they know there’s information in them that can help their careers. In other words, B2B magazines are written by thought leaders.

Think of your content marketing as a digital trade magazine. Turn your top thinkers into category thought leaders. Don’t assume there are already too many out there. Trust me your people can be smarter, more engaging, and more entertaining than anyone else in your category.

Actual sales – With a carefully orchestrated plan of great content, plus focused social media participation, you can achieve sales by publishing great content in your B2B category.

PR support – PR is still important in business-to-business marketing, and it’s much more effective as part of a coordinated effort with content, social media, search engine marketing.

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3. Creativity, B2B marketers’ secret weapon

The missing element in so much of B2B content marketing, and business marketing in general, has always been the same – great creative ideas.

I cut my teeth on B2B marketing. One of my favorite clients was a forklift manufacturer in Ohio. I created some amazing print ads for them. Later, when I had my first ad agency, I worked on Raritan computer. We created integrated campaigns of print + digital media which were so effective they increased sales by over 800%.

  • We didn’t do it with better data.
  • We didn’t do it with better key phrase usage.
  • We didn’t do it by getting more likes on Facebook.

We did it with superior creative ideas, the likes of which no one in the business category had ever seen. Samples of that work can be seen at this YouTube video.

If your company can get your hands on radically creative, attention-getting, and memorable creative ideas and then deploy them on a regular basis in your content marketing and social media, you will get superior ROI from your B2B content marketing. If you need help finding such a firm, we know one.

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