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How to Use the Content Mix Effectively for Your B2B Business

Guest Author May 9, 2017

It’s no secret that the Internet has completely changed the way consumers research brands. In fact, according to Sirius Decisions, “67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.”

While digital marketing has opened a realm of possibilities for marketers, it’s also created the head-scratching dilemma of figuring out the best use of resources, time, and budget to reach potential customers. Of course, content marketing has been a large part of B2B marketers’ digital efforts, and there’s evidence that content marketing budgets are continuing to grow or projected to stay the same. Plus, it’s effective!

However, while many organizations have improved their content marketing efforts over the past decade, many are still unclear about how to create a successful program.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, while 53% of B2B enterprise respondents said their “organization is extremely/very committed to content marketing,” only 25% of respondents said their “organization is clear on what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like.”

See a problem with that picture?

With an average of 22% of the total marketing budget spent on content marketing, B2B are desperate to figure out a “magic formula” for content marketing success.

Introducing the Content Mix

Almost ten years ago, Daniel Goodall of Nokia shared what he called “simple model for Digital Media Planning.” Because of its brilliant simplicity, the model was quickly popularized and Forrester Research later wrote about and referenced the model less than a year later.

Even before the digital age, three traditional types of media have been used by marketers and PR professionals to promote their brands:

  • Owned media: the content and channels you create, own, and control.
  • Paid media: any paid efforts to drive traffic to your owned properties, including advertising, sponsorships, etc.
  • Earned media: third-party recognition or coverage as a result of an outreach (e.g., PR, influencer, media).

The intersection of these three media types equaled a cohesive content strategy that yielded the best results.

Now, around the time the model was introduced, social media was starting to become a viable tool to promote brands, but some experts felt that “shared tactics” could fall into one of the three existing categories of media types.

Despite these concerns, a new media category was added to the content mix around 2010:

  • Shared media: any efforts revolved around shared content, whether owned or earned.

As a result, the modern Content Mix as we know it was born.

The 2 Key Principles of the Content Mix

So, how do these four media types work together?

The key to a successful content mix is understanding two key principles:

  1. It’s always important to have a healthy mix of media, which needs to be determined by your goals and audience.

Simply, you can’t effectively market your brand if you’re only using one media type.

For example, if you know you’d like to expand from regional operations to national, then you’ll need to put some extra focus on creating awareness and recognition in other markets through earned media. Third-party validation and coverage is critical when entering a new market.

On the other hand, if you know your audience finds most of their news or information through social media, then you need to share relevant owned and earned media via that channel to drive other shared media tactics.

  1. Understand the benefits and challenges of each media type.

Not all media types are made the same, and they each come with their various benefits and challenges.

While owned media has the benefit of control, you can’t expect people to just find your owned content; you need to guide them there through paid, shared, or earned methods. The approach of “create content and they will come” is unrealistic.

However, earned media efforts can be risky even if you’ve had mostly positive coverage in the past. Your PR team could reach out to a new publication with stats, information, and data, but the publication sees something negative to what you offer. What would have been a “feature story” turns into your worst nightmare.

Regardless, the Content Mix can be a great way for your business to plan content marketing efforts, distribute your budget effectively, and create a more cohesive marketing strategy. Using the Content Mix can help organizations become more clear on what a successful content marketing program looks like. With only 25% of B2B organizations feeling confident about their efforts, this model could be the ultimate tool you need.


View the infographic below to learn more about the Content Mix model, the various benefits and challenges, and how to use the model effectively.