Start the year off right by taking a cue from these marketing experts.

It’s never too early to begin planning and executing your marketing goals for the next quarter, or even the next year. If you haven’t yet developed your 2017 strategy, here are 8 tips from successful marketers to get you started:

1. Analyze Low-Performing Content

“While it doesn’t often make sense to do a post-mortem on every content project, it is something you should do each quarter or at the end of each year,” says Dave Rohrer of Northside Metrics. “As you are starting to plan and execute your 2017 calendar, going through this process will help you fix issues in your processes.”

Rohrer suggests sifting through old posts and compiling a list of pieces that did not generate as much traffic as you’d hoped. Look for similarities among the low-performing content. Where did you fall short? What did you do well? What can you do differently in the future to ensure a better outcome?

2. Focus on Your Target Market

Don’t become so fixated on ranking well in search results that you forget why you’re writing content in the first place. Matt Siltala of Avalaunch Media advises fellow marketers: “Stop thinking so much about how to outsmart Google, and really just focus on your target. Create the kind of content that is going be useful, providing solutions and answers to questions that are being asked.”

Gaining the attention of a highly targeted audience is much more valuable in the long-run when it comes to generating qualified leads. Consider what kind of content will be most valuable to potential clients. Create resources that make other companies want to do business with you, and then do everything you can to nurture those relationships.

3. Think Critically About Your Objectives

Arnie Kuenn of Vertical Measures says the key to B2B success this year is creating content that people are actually searching for. “It doesn’t matter what idea your brainstorming team has fallen in love with, what you think the hot topic of today is, or what products or services you want to push on people: if your target prospects aren’t looking for the type of content you’re producing, you’re already losing the content marketing game.”

Kuenn points out that B2B content marketing success doesn’t necessarily depend on how exciting your industry is. ROI has more to do with “consistent production with proper content ideation, a focus on the content’s headline, and how well you have optimized it for existing or even future queries.”

4. Create Value

Focus on creating great content, and qualified leads with follow.

“Mediocre content doesn’t cut it anymore, and often times ends up hurting you,” says Britney Muller of Pryde Marketing Inc.“Take the time to scale back, and create valuable works of art.” It’s in your best interest to produce content that builds valuable relationships with your readers — after all, your next client could be among them.

5. Be the Best Answer

Lee Odden of Top Rank Marketing suggests that the key to B2B content marketing success is simply providing the best answer to a frequent industry query. “A best answer strategy means understanding the questions buyers have and creating engaging content experiences that surpass all others in usefulness and findability.”

According to Odden, too many marketers focus their efforts on producing high-quality content without first defining their goals and figuring out how to achieve them. Honing in on a best answer strategy is just one of many ways to execute on a concrete marketing goal.

6. Build Connections

“In B2B content marketing, real connections are made by appealing to the right need at the right time.” advises Rob Garner of iProspect. Focus on developing a deep understanding of your target audience, their interests and behaviors. For example, at iProspect, Garner and his team conduct frequent audience assessments and surveys to understand who they are creating content for and how their target audience prefers to consume said content.

7. Over-Deliver

While an attention-grabbing headline can be a great way to draw readers in, make sure it accurately represents the quality of the content that follows. Promising something valuable and under-delivering is a quick way to lose potential fans — which is why Grant Simmons, VP of Search Marketing at Homes.com, suggests that marketers always “hook and over-deliver rather than bait and disappoint.”

8. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

“Everyone thinks they need to find the next big thing, but take a look at what’s already working for you,” says Casie Gillette of KoMarketing.

Spend time analyzing existing content to understand what resonates with your target audience, what works in search or on social platforms, and what drives leads. If you’re new to the content marketing game, Gillette suggests taking a look at what’s already out there. Evaluate your competitors’ strategies, and mirror successful efforts in a way that is unique to your target audience and brand.

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer B2B content marketing services and strategies to transform your company blog into a sophisticated trade publication that builds influence and visibility in your market. Learn more about B2B content marketing here.

Author Ami Foote

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Ami is a staff writer at L&T. She has previously written for Ireland.com, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Britax Child Safety, and a variety of non-profits around the country. On a good day, you can find Ami obsessively consuming one or all of the following: folk music, NPR, black coffee, jeopardy, or Guinness.

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