• Large, global B2B organizations continue to struggle shifting global marketing efforts toward content marketing
  • Content marketing is supported in most organizations philosophically and theoretically, but out in the field, old habits are dying hard
  • The first step in solving the global content marketing conundrum is understanding the nature of the barriers to adoption

In theory, I’d like to get up early and go for a run every morning. In practice, I have a newborn and a toddler and have reached the “deranged zombie” level on my imaginary exhaustion meter. In theory, I’d like to learn French in my car during my commute (I even optimistically purchased an audio course). In practice, it’s boring and I like a little Justin Bieber and Sia sometimes, okay?

When it comes to implementing modern content marketing practices on a global level, many organizations are finding that they – like me – suffer from a discrepancy between theory and practice. There is near-unanimous global support for content marketing best practices – digital-first, high-value, high-quality, audience-centric content that pulls the target audience toward us instead of cluttering their inboxes with product asks and offers. So, if everyone agrees that this is the right path, why are so many global organizations failing to execute when it comes to regional and local execution?

Whereas my personal inability to put theory into practice is largely based on a lack of willpower and questionable taste in music, the barriers to adoption for B2B organizations are more logistical (and thus more solvable!). Every organization is different, but here are three foundational recommendations to inform your internal efforts:

  1. Put your money where your mouth is. Too many large organizations assume that budget for regional content origination, localization and activation will appear magically. The corporate content strategy budget accounts for the creation of a core set of content and nothing else. When we ask how much of the content used by the regions is developed centrally vs. locally, we usually hear something along the lines of the 80/20 rule (80 percent corporate content adoption and 20 percent local content origination), but I have yet to hear from a company whose content creation budget reflects this structure. The 20 percent is assumed to magically appear from somewhere (often the lines of business). On top of this problem, there is often no explicit budgeting for that content to be translated or activated (no money for the media purchase, for example). So the regions are often presented with content that they simply cannot use, and they have little or no budget or resources for content localization or origination.
  2. Compare. Mark Twain suggested that “comparison is the death of joy.” I am not looking to murder anyone’s joy, but I’d like to suggest that thorough and consistent measurement creates the ability to compare some of the “usual suspects” that eat up field budget dollars and prevent adequate investment in local content marketing (I’m lookin’ at you, events!). The reality is that tried-and-true marketing techniques feel like a sure thing, and there is tremendous pressure on field and line of business marketers to deliver results on not just an annual basis, but also a quarterly basis. Evergreen, digital content marketing nurtures the market on an ongoing basis, but an event delivers value to sales in a way that feels more tangible and is often better measured. Make sure that your organization captures cost-per-lead metrics and that there is ongoing education with internal audiences on what marketing is doing to not just increase the volume and quality of leads, but also focus on tactics with lower cost-per-lead to create scale.
  3. Mind the (performance) gap. Very often what we see happen is a big company-wide pep rally (or a roadshow of pep rallies) on content marketing. Pom-poms are shaken, heads nod and then regional marketers go back to their desks to blast out emails and nail down the menu for next week’s sales event. Very few organizations have made the interim changes required to support a big shift like this. Content marketing is a longer-term investment, and a 100 percent immediate shift over to it takes the wheels off the bus in terms of marketing’s ability to deliver a cadence of leads to sales. Interim accommodations have to be implemented (e.g. additional interim resources allocated) to stand the approach up and/or quotas need to be adjusted to acknowledge that local marketers must continue to keep the lights on while simultaneously learning (and executing against) the new content marketing paradigm.

Ultimately, getting regional, local and line-of-business marketers to shift efforts from events and emails to high-quality, digital-first content takes more than philosophical agreement, which most organizations have globally at this point. Executive buy-in at every level must be followed by interim modifications to day-to-day responsibilities, incentives and resource allocation to build the foundation for global/local content without completely derailing those marketers’ abilities to support their friendly local sales team in meeting the next revenue target.