Small businesses specializing in business to business (B2B) sales may not think of themselves as content marketers, but as was demonstrated during MarketingProfs’ B2B Marketing Forum today, Oct. 9, large enterprises make their fair share of mistakes. Or, as moderator Doug Kessler, co-founder and creative director of Velocity, put it, “Big companies full of smart people do stupid things.”

“Content Marketing at Scale: The Heavy Hitters Panel” featured three well-known content marketing gurus: Michael Brenner, head of strategy at NewsCred; Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Markering Institute; and Jeannine Rossignol, vice president of marketing at Xerox. The three of them detailed some of the biggest mistakes large companies make – which small businesses can learn from to achieve success in their own content marketing programs.

Channel first, strategy later.

According to Pulizzi, a majority of larger enterprises choose a content marketing channel first without a thought to strategy. A documented content marketing strategy is critical, particularly as marketing transitions into more of a publishing role. Once the strategy is in place, however, the work is not complete. Businesses then need to review it on an ongoing basis. Documented strategies are the largest separation of effectiveness and ineffectiveness of a content marketing program, he said.

Forgetting about the target audience.

Rossignol reminded attendees that content marketing is about them – the audience – not the marketer. But too many companies forget that it’s a person out there being targeted, and that person may not necessarily care about the same things as the president of a division does, she said.

“It’s human nature to talk about yourself,” Brenner added. When the division president or CEO comes to the marketing department with an idea that none of the customers or prospects would be interested in, the documented strategy lets the marketers push back, he said.

Balance your content.

Every sales and marketing department is familiar with the image of the sales funnel. But instead of having content concentrated at the top, when buyers enter the funnel, companies often have too much late-stage content, with almost no early stage content and very little mid-stage content, according to Brenner. Something like 50 percent of content goes unused, and more questions need to be answered at the top of the funnel than at the bottom, he said.