It’s no secret that content marketing is a prominent strategy for B2B companies of all shapes and sizes. In fact, 73% of B2B content marketers have a content strategy (only 40% of those marketers have a documented strategy, though).
One common struggle for content marketers?
Striking the right balance in their content planning.
Reactivity + Proactivity = Successful Content Strategy
Both reactive and proactive content can bolster your content marketing strategy. Balancing the two can help you:
When we’re talking about reactive versus proactive content, this is what we mean:
A reactive piece of content is in response to a current event or trend that folks in the industry are talking about.
On the other hand, a proactive piece of content predicts where the industry is headed (usually based on current or historical events in the space).
For example, to discuss relevant industry developments and help our audience make sound decisions regarding their content marketing strategy in 2023, our company published a blog post and a guest-contributed article discussing our recommendations for AI-generated content. This would be considered reactive content because we were reacting to the influx of questions we were receiving about AI-generated content and how it could potentially fit into a content marketing strategy (or not).
Another example from Influence & Co. is our article about content marketing trends and predictions. This would be considered a proactive piece of content because it’s focused on where we’ve been and our predictions for where the industry might be in the next five years. The piece proactively discusses where the industry could potentially be headed based on our firsthand experience in the space.
With that in mind, how do you make sure your content marketing strategy includes an editorial calendar filled with both reactive and proactive content? These tips can help:
This isn’t an exact science, but you’ll probably want about a 75-25 split between your proactive and reactive pieces.
The majority of your content should be more evergreen in nature and valuable to your audience for a long time. Plus, you won’t have to go back and update it every few weeks — you’ll only have to revisit your proactive, evergreen on-site content every year or so to ensure it’s still relevant.
That said, don’t negate the critical need for reactive, timely content. Reactive content shows that you’re a knowledgeable industry expert who’s up to date on what your peers are doing and struggling with now. Consequently, having approximately one-quarter of all your content be “on trend” makes sense.
Of course, this means you have to stay updated on what’s going on in your industry and the rest of the world. To do so, subscribe to industry newsletters, set up Google alerts for relevant keywords, keep tabs on competitors’ developments, regularly attend conferences — the list goes on.
If you’re not talking with your sales team as part of your editorial calendar planning, you need to start. Salespeople are the “boots on the ground” folks who are always talking with prospective clients. This means they have a deep understanding of what potential customers are looking for, as well as what’s keeping them from signing on for your services.
Start asking for your sales team’s constant and current objections. The constant objections they hear time and time again (usually about finances, time limitations, and approval processes) can become evergreen or proactive sales enablement content. The objections that are timelier, such as those surrounding a lack of clarity on a brand-new service line you’ve just unveiled, can prompt more reactive sales enablement content.
Prepare to be surprised when you open the door for your salespeople to tell you more about leads than you imagined. Even if you have a swath of information at your disposal, you can always learn something new. And once you do, you can use what you learn to populate your content calendar with topic ideas that capitalize on what leads need to know right now.
Want to get to the finish line ahead of your competition? Map out your editorial calendar once a quarter. (Those three months will go fast, by the way!) Sticking with quarterly sprints ensures you’re able to respond to timely developments while also working on proactive and evergreen pieces.
During your quarterly sprints, review which pieces of content from the previous quarter resulted in traffic spikes or engaged audiences the most. You might discover that certain themes stand out for your audience. Use those themes as a guide for setting up future Google keyword pings as the industry grows and changes.
In addition to your quarterly content planning sprints, conduct a review to make sure important events and happenings are integrated into your content calendar. You can also perform a content audit. The content audit can be used to identify whether you need to update anything on your blog. It’s much more efficient to identify old content that needs a refresh quarterly or annually than in a piecemeal fashion. That way, you can generate a list of content to update that you can pull from when you have capacity to make changes.
Take a step back and look at your industry as if it were a timeline. What have you seen over the years when you look in the rearview mirror? And what do you see as you position your expert eyes in a more forward-looking direction? You might not have all the answers, but you probably have a great deal of insight into what could occur in your industry in the near and distant future.
No one expects you to be spot on with your predictions, and you shouldn’t just make unfounded guesses or claims as clickbait. But if you have something helpful and informative to say based on current events, a recent report, or even a growing social movement, have at it.
Striking a balance between proactivity and reactivity can be a powerful force when it comes to your content marketing strategy. You’ll be able to provide immense value to your audience — both in the near and distant future — and build your reputation as an expert leader in your industry.
I'm a content-obsessed word person with a passion for finding the coziest coffee shop in town. By day, I'm the content marketing manager at Intero Digital's Content & PR Division. In my downtime, you can find me hanging out with my husband and son, reading a book, sipping a latte, drawing, hand lettering, or watching "The Office" for the zillionth time.