I have a confession to make.  I love talking with B2B marketers and clients, but there is one question I get occasionally that really makes me crazy. (And you will hear an earful if you are unfortunate enough to ask it.) 
“Laura, which B2B marketing tactic works the best?”
And I’m thinking, “Do I look like the Lone Ranger?”
(Silver bullets? Get it?)
To be fair, when marketers ask me "What works best?" I don’t really think they are looking for a simple and seemingly magical solution to a complicated problem. Most just want to validate their current choices and ensure they haven't overlooked other viable approaches. But when 87% of B2B marketers say they struggle to develop compelling content, no amount of messing around with the mix will create a significant improvement in results.
And now I have research to support that position.  Forrester’s recent report on the state of the B2B marketing mix reveals a couple of very interesting results:
  1. When it comes to brand building and demand generation, a majority of B2B marketers agree: “Nothing works well all the time.”  Not one of the 17 approaches we asked marketers to grade earned a "very effective" rating from a majority of respondents. Only two were rated as highly effective by even 47% of respondents.
  2. Content marketing stands alone as the most popular and most effective tactic. This underscores its premier importance to achieving a productive B2B marketing mix. 
Simply put, what you have to say is more important than which channel or tactic you use to say it.
Successful content marketing in B2B starts with the realization that content is not just another campaign asset, but the means to start, and maintain, important business relationships with buyers.
For this reason it’s so important to measure your content marketing progress across four dimensions that help you track its impact on the business, and not just on corralling prospective buyers. 
In “Make Sales Efficiency A Key Addition To Your B2B Content Marketing Metrics," we outline a framework for measuring B2B content success based on:
  • Content performance. This is the consumption, interaction, and reproduction of the content itself. It can also create brand awareness, even affinity, at a similar level to traditional advertising. 
  • Audience performance. This is customer response to content that brings them closer to your brand and offers. 
  • Sales efficiency. This is the ability to have more successful interactions with leads in less time. Audience-centric provides the link that runs from the start of the conversation with marketing to a closed deal by sales. 
  • Business performance. This is the contribution of content-based interactions to business outcomes.
If you want to ensure your content pays off well, then make measurement part of you content strategy and execution and keep your eye on all four framework elements, not just the first.
If you would like to know more about taking a more holistic/programmatic approach to content marketing, consider joining April Henderson, Director, Market Impact Consulting here at Forrester, and me on April 21 at 2 pm ET/ 11 am PT for a complimentary online event (i.e webinar) on “ Measuring The Impact of B2B Content Marketing ” to learn how you can maximize your content program value with Forrester's partnership. 
Hope to "see" you then!