Planning for each year in recent memory begins with this directive from management: “You’ll need to deliver more stuff with fewer resources.” Sometimes this message is accompanied by: “Oh, and you’ll need to do it faster/deliver it sooner.” But somehow, some way, we find budget and/or resources to plug the holes.
2023 is the year, however, when the rubber meets the road in the mathematics of doing more with less. I could fill this blog post with all the negative circumstances that have led us to this moment, but instead I’m going to share the hope that motivates me every day. It’s hope that I get from working with global B2B organizations that are successfully doing more with less and from studying the trajectory of new technologies, approaches to work, and more.
I’m currently reading Andrew McAfee’s More from Less: The Surprising Story of How We Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources—and What Happens Next. Along with my own observations, it inspired me to see the upside. Consider that, as McAfee points out, technology innovation has enabled the dematerialization of our economy, where economic growth is decoupled from resource consumption — the very definition of getting more from less. Multiple factors are driving dematerialization, according to McAfee, and while there are positives and negatives in terms of impact, he argues that society must work through and exploit these factors to accelerate global economic growth.
That’s a macro view of creating more from less: Now, here’s the micro view and recommendations for applying the math of getting more from less to B2B content strategy and operations — but with a twist.
When More From Less Means Less With More
Stick with me here as I turn the “more from less” math on its head. Consider these data points: When asked about their perception of the content that they receive from vendors who market to them, 61% of business buyers say that vendors give them too much content, and 63% say that what they get is more focused on style than substance. And here’s the kicker: 69% — close to three-quarters — say that if the content from vendors that they currently do business with isn’t valuable or helpful, they’re not likely to expand contracts. On top of this, businesses know that they’re pumping out content that doesn’t meet the mark: 61% say that one-quarter to three-quarters of their content goes to waste — that it isn’t used as intended. Basically, buyers are telling vendors: “We want more value from less content!” So in the “more from less” math here, “more” refers to value, not volume, and “less” refers to both volume and creation resources.
Breaking Down The “More From Less” Math In B2B Content
The best way to address the opportunity to do more from less in this use case is to start with content planning. This phase of the content lifecycle sets the stage with a streamlined content strategy. Given the need to deliver more quality content with less volume and resources, prioritization and focus must take precedence. Establish clear goals and KPIs, fewer target personas, and a tighter story. Plan a few rich, primary content assets, and identify associated derivative assets that can serve multiple audience member needs over time. Continuously constructing net-new content is usually more about seller desire than a true reflection of buyer need.
If you plan more value from less content with a goal-based, dialed-in content strategy in the planning phase, then content production, promotion, and performance management will all fall into focus. Here are key tips for each of these other lifecycle phases:
- Content creation and production. Optimize the primary/derivatives approach from the content plan by identifying additional derivative opportunities. Look to additional derivative types as a way to fulfill buyer knowledge requirements and preferences. Begin experimenting with generative AI for first drafts and content needed to maintain an always-on content hub. While human review of machine-generated content is a must, its use will help you scale.
- Content promotion. Nothing is sadder in the world of B2B content then a great asset left to languish on the corporate website. Any asset created should seek a wide audience through an omnichannel approach that takes advantage of external and internal channels and longer time in market. Improve content orchestration by reading audience signals and leveraging AI, metadata, and automation tools to connect the dots and provide a contextual audience experience.
- Content performance. There are lots of reasons why content measurement is hard, but it can be easier than you think. First, look to measure only what matters, and use that as a proxy for content performance in general — in other words, establish content engagement trends. Settle on a set of KPIs and compare quarter over quarter so that you can see and report on changes in engagement over time. Develop and test hypotheses about how content is impacting pipeline and revenue.
The theme across all of these tips is focus and prioritization. You may be faced with pressure from stakeholders to simply do more. But if you’ve done the “more value/less volume + resources” math and gained executive buy-in, let it be known that you won’t stray from this strategic charter. Remember that “no” is a complete sentence.
If you’re a client, reach out, and we can white-board the B2B content “more from less” mathematics.
Join me at Forrester’s B2B Summit North America in Austin, Texas, June 5–7, where I’ll be hosting a session on how to create a content plan on a page.