Jewel Marketing
Taiwan Content Marketing

Content Marketing: What To Do When There's Nothing To Do

By Jason Patterson

Founder of Jewel Content Marketing Agency
B2B content marketing has peaks and lulls, and one of the things that elevates a senior content marketer above a junior content slacker is knowing how to make yourself useful during those lulls. And the more of these methods you keep in mind, the more useful you'll be, not only for as long as the lull lasts, but in the time after.

Review The Content Calendar

The first thing you should do is go back to your content plan/calendar. See if there's anything scheduled for later in the year that you can get a headstart on now. A lot of B2B content is time-sensitive, so it can be hard to create full content pieces ahead of time, but you can look for research sources, create outlines, or write out partial documents with sections to be filled in later.

Read The News

For whatever industries you focus on, it's best to stay up to date on the latest developments, so read the trade publications. And if there are any, look in on any social media groups or threads or sub-Reddits where your industry hangs out. This will give you an idea of what's on your industry's mind, and what questions you might want to have your SMEs answer in your content.

Another helpful information source is analyst reports, if you can get access. Content people often are not offered access to such reports unless they ask for it, though a lot of businesses do have subscriptions. Ask a marketing leader if they can make something available. And finally, HARO (a website that aggregates journalist queries) is a useful resource for knowing what content ideas might be pitchable to journalists.

Study Competitors

Being up to date on what your competitors are talking and writing about is also useful. Study what they're covering in their content, and look for any gaps. Also look for any content that covers a useful topic but is perhaps old, out of date, incomplete, or could otherwise be improved upon. Covering a topic better than they did often isn't that hard, and it can be quite effective.

Survey Old Content

Go through your brand's old content (two years back or more). See if there's anything that's embarrassingly out of date (it may be time to take that stuff down). And see if anything can be updated, revamped, or rewritten. And this is surprisingly easy to do. I've managed to rewrite 70-80% of certain articles that were barely a year old with new perspectives and only modest effort.

Study Best-In-Class Brands

By this, I'm not talking about your competitors. I'm talking about brands considered the best at what they do in terms of content, or that you at least consider the best. And if you don't have any, find some (job interviewers will sometimes ask you about this and not having an answer looks bad). Study their tactics. How they do things. What new things they're doing. See what's worth emulating.

Do An Informal Audit

A formal content audit is too complex to do spontaneously, but you can do an informal one. And don't be intimidated by the word "audit." At most businesses, an informal audit will only take a few hours.

Create a list of all major content topics your business needs to cover. Add to that list any of your company's business units that have no overlap among those topics. Then go back a year or two in your content. Count the number of times each topic/business unit is addressed.

See if any vital topics are being neglected, or if certain topics are being overprioritized (a common problem when content is often created in response to ad hoc requests). Once you have the results, present them to your boss. They'll applaud your initiative, and let you know if anything is being ignored on purpose.

Talk To Your Digital, Social, Or Web People

The content that you write/create may be published on many channels. However, unless you have KPIs tied to them, information regarding how those channels perform is not always shared with content people, unless they ask for it.

Talk to your web people. Ask about what's getting viewed and not getting viewed. Ask about heatmaps and bounce rates. Talk to your social people. Ask what they're worried about. Ask about how your brand is performing versus competitors, or against benchmarks, or targets. Talk to your digital people. See how their ads are performing. Make suggestions if you see issues with the copy or creative the agencies are giving them. Be useful to them, and they'll be useful to you.

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