The Challenges of Producing B2G Thought-Leadership Content

Chris Parente, Storytech Consulting

Have you noticed? B2G marketing has gone all in on thought-leadership content. There are so many options today for government marketers looking for branded content! Established vendors in PR, event planning and social media all want to be full-service partners to clients, and they are leading with branded content services.

Traditional publishers also haven’t missed out on the content marketing opportunity. They have responded by creating in-house branded content shops to address the needs of their advertising clients. Of course, some companies don’t want to totally outsource content development and choose to produce some or all of it in-house.

Whether you hire a firm or tackle yourself, what are some common B2G content marketing challenges? And what are some ideas for overcoming them? Here’s a short list adopted from an article by Michael Brenner’s Marketing Insider Group this past summer:

  1. 1. Resist the temptation of mediocre content – if the content you produce doesn’t answer potential client questions or frame issues in a new way, your content strategy won’t be effective. Make sure you can mentally “step away” and view the content you’re producing objectively – would you take the time to absorb it, would you be impressed by the source?

Hopefully if you’ve outsourced content development your vendor should be pushing you to produce high quality material. Incorporating keyword research into your editorial calendar can help assuage this issue. This helps focus your content by adhering to the issues and terms prospects are searching for, helping to ensure clients and prospects will be interested.

  1. Getting the right data – How will you know the content you’re producing is resonating? Tools that provide for reverse IP lookup can provide a better understanding of what agencies/companies are visiting and what content they are consuming. HubSpot may be a good tool as well, since it provides excellent and relatively intuitive reporting.
  2. What if Sales and marketing don’t get along? – This can be a killer. According to a 2018 survey by Market Connections, 34 percent of marketing staff at large B2G contractors said it was “very or somewhat challenging” to work with the sales team.

One way to prevent this kind of divide and build bridges between sales and marketing is to include front line salespeople as content subject matter experts (SMEs). When sales and BD people feel part of the process and see their feedback incorporated into thought-leadership content, they are more likely to stay engaged and supportive of the content marketing effort.

  1. Mixing storytelling and education – Different content formats can help on this front. For example, a placed byline or native article will lean far more towards the storytelling side, light on technology and heavy on opinion with an evocative description of client problems solved. A white paper or solution sheet might pertain to the same topic, while presenting the information in a more granular and specs heavy fashion. Videos can serve either purpose well, but it’s best if they address one or the other – entertainment or information. Often an entertaining video could then lead the prospect to one more informational in tone.
  2. Employee engagement – as you’ve probably heard the goal is to have every employee be a brand ambassador. One way to accomplish this is when the content being published is formatted as a newsletter and shared with all employees. This makes sure the content marketing effort is visible to those outside the marketing team. Over time this can also play an internal communications role. The messaging of the organization is regularly presented to employees in interesting and relevant ways, promoting understanding of the core values and differentiators.
  3. Beware unrealistic publication cadences – this one is a close cousin of #1 above. If your marketing team or your vendor has plans for 2-3 pieces of content per week, ask yourself some tough questions re your internal approval process. Can you review that much content on an ongoing basis, while also making sure the content is high quality and interesting? Remember that quality trumps quantity as long as the publication schedule is regular.

Whether you decide to outsource or assign to your internal team, thinking about these challenges ahead of time will increase your odds for B2G content marketing success. If you’d like more information, contact one of our professors at Government Marketing University.