When we work with clients to develop content strategies, our conversations typically begin with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm–and rightly so. The agencies we work with, and by extension their clients, tend to choose Newfangled because of our conversion-driven approach to web development, which relies heavily on the role of content. So it’s only natural that in thinking about all the potential rewards of content marketing–improved SEO, more and better-quality site traffic, and the prospect of numerous content-related conversion opportunities–the impulse is to dream big. That’s especially true in the prototyping phase of the web development process, which can sometimes feel a bit like the buffet at your favorite Indian restaurant.
That’s why it’s so important to pause and take an unblinking look at the resourcing requirements of your chosen content strategy before implementing anything.
I know this blog post has the potential to seem like a bit of a bummer. After all, the fun part of planning a website is thinking of all the fresh ways your new site can serve and grow your business, and content is often front and center in that visioning process. So admonitions about resourcing restraints can tend to come off like those preachy dieting articles in the midst of holiday eating season.
But this isn’t about putting up restrictions or naysaying; it’s about creating a strategy that’s as sustainable as it is ambitious. Sure, we can build you a website that houses a blog, newsletter, whitepapers, video library, and webinars, but the more salient question is whether your business is prepared to make the ongoing investments necessary to keep a content engine of that size and complexity running.
Make no mistake, it takes time and money to implement a content strategy–and the costs scale in direct proportion with the strategy itself. When it comes to quality content, there’s no discount for bulk quantities. To illustrate this concept, consider the following figures: the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report found that, in 2012, best-in-class content marketers invested 46% of their overall marketing budgets to content marketing, while the least effective marketers allocated only 16%. The average allotment for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees was 31%, up five percentage points from 2011. And, fifty-four percent of all respondents reported that they plan to increase their spending on content in 2013.
Aside from offering a rough spending guideline, this data suggests that businesses that skimp on their content marketing budget may ultimately be wasting what little money they are funneling to this category. At the same time, projected spending increases reflect the real costs of doing content marketing well, upward scaling of strategies, and the confidence businesses have in the benefits of content marketing.
This isn’t to say that simply throwing money at your content strategy will make it successful. As with any business process, it’s great to seek out efficiencies in content marketing wherever doing so makes sense. But those efficiencies can’t come at the expense of setting up the proper infrastructure (meaning a website with the right publishing platforms, calls to action, and analytics capabilities) and resources (meaning talented, expertise-based writers + time) to do the job right. Note that while the former tends to be a front-loaded, one-time expense with ongoing maintenance fees, the latter expense is fairly constant.
So, how much budget is your firm prepared to allocate to content marketing? Have you discussed your content strategy as a discrete expense and assigned it a specific value? If not, now is the time to do it.