Unfortunately, marketing is often seen as a cost center within many B2B organizations. Whenever it comes time to cut budgets, you know that marketing is the first to take a hit. But what if there was a way to not only take a lead generation approach to content marketing, but also generate actual revenue in the process?
Last week at the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum, Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi shared some insider tips and secrets for companies that want to leverage their content to generate revenue.
When the godfather of content marketing has a session that describes how to profit from content creation, it’s a must-see. Why? Who better to speak on the subject than someone who has built a content media company from the ground up, with enormous success?
B2B Can Learn From B2C
B2C brands have long been monetizing their content. In fact, Joe says that it seems like “Every month we are going to see a large B2C company come out and say “we’re a media company now.””
There is however one very important aspect for B2B marketers to keep in mind before heading down this path: If you don’t already have an audience, focus on that before trying to build a profit center around your content.
Understanding the Content Tilt
When preparing to create any piece of content, most savvy marketers will consider:
- What pain point can I solve for my reader?
- Where is our sweet spot in terms of knowledge/value?
But that’s where they stop. And if we’re being honest, chances are that if most companies did an audit of their content against their competitors, it would be hard to tell the difference between them.
The concept of the content tilt is taking your content planning and creation one step further to determine an area of little to no competition on the web where you can break through and tell a different story.
Start with Your Content Mission Statement
Most companies have a defined mission for their organization as a whole, but not for their content marketing programs. Defining your content mission is an incredibly useful exercise that can be referenced if you’re wondering if a particular piece of content aligns with your business goals.
At the core, a content mission is very simple. It should:
- Describe your core audience
- Explain what will be delivered
- Provide insight into what the audience will accomplish
Focus Efforts on Growing Your Subscribers
One of the key metrics marketers always have a pulse on is their network size. This number is usually a combination of social media networks, email lists, blog subscribers and more.
However, all of these networks are not created equal.
Recent research has found that less than 1% of a brand’s audience on Facebook actually see the messages that you publish. And that number will only continue to fluctuate because you don’t have control over the platform.
Email subscribers however are content marketing gold. Why? These consumers have given you one of the most coveted things in the business world, their email address.
In order to offer value to your subscribers, Joe said that there are two “must haves”:
- Amazing E-Newsletter
- Exchange of Value (eBook, Research Report, etc.)
3 Ways to Turn Your Content Marketing Into A Profit Center
#1 – Consider Online Training
People today are hungry for knowledge. And, they want it when they want it in a way that is convenient for them. Online trainings are a fantastic way to share your content with a large audience in a way that can also be quite profitable.
One pro tip from Joe when implementing an online training program is to create a sense of urgency by not allowing open enrollment, but instead having a deadline or semesters where people can sign up.
For people looking to run online training, here are some of the tools that Joe recommended:
- LMS (Absorb)
- Payment System (Authorize.net)
- Video/GoToMeeting/PPT Record
- Speaker’s Agreement
Once you build the platform, leverage the community inside and outside your company to draw people to your trainings.
#2 – Identify Key Sponsors
Content Marketing Institute has a well-developed process for how their sponsor relationships work. Sponsors know that based on the amount that they pay, they will have access to CMI’s audience in very specific ways.
Some options for featuring sponsors in content include:
- Placement on the sidebar your website or blog
- Inclusion in brand newsletters
- Logos in the footer of web pages
- Content creation by the sponsors on your blog
It’s important to limit your online inventory so that your readers still have a great experience.
#3 – Develop Original Research
In 2009, Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs decided to begin collaborating on a leading content marketing research report (because they identified the need for one). Since then, these yearly reports have become the authority on everything content marketing for both B2B and B2C brands.
I know our team at TopRank Marketing has referenced these reports through the years to provide insights into current industry trends. And we’re not alone. Joe shared that one of their content reports from last year has over 50,000 inbound links to that one piece of content alone.
Just last month, they published their newest report: B2B Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends –North America
Original research is another great way to utilize a sponsor to help cover the costs (and even generate a profit) for the content.
Start Generating Revenue From Your Content!
If you want to change the perception of your marketing department from a cost center to a profit center, then these insights should give you a running start. But remember that in order for these tactics to be successful, you must have an audience in place already.