When it comes to content strategy, few alphanumeric combinations strike fear into the heart of content marketers like the acronym B2B. The thing is – there’s no real distinction between good B2C and good B2B content. Both need to hit a client sweet spot, both need to ace the competition and drive customer action. That said, there are some issues that are more common to B2B content marketing than others…
1. Give your employees a voice
We’ve spent much of the last 20 years interviewing heads of business, marketers, product designers, sportsmen and women, actors and the odd rock star.
What we’ve learnt from that experience is that many of the people who create the finest products, sporting results, films and music are often unable to order their thoughts in a succinct, cohesive way.
They can be prone to bouts of verbosity or the opposite: monosyllabic answers to in-depth questions. There are exceptions, but often they need a creative helping hand in order to give their audience the insight, flair and passion they desperately crave.
Which is where your managing editor comes in. A good managing editor will be able to marshal the thoughts of the more technical, knowledgeable members of your organisation and ensure the epic novella in their heads becomes something usable and useful when it’s turned into content.
We’ve helped companies tap their internal resources many times before. Check out our ESET case study for an example of how we created a vital editorial destination using one of the world’s biggest internet security company’s in-house expertise.
2. Look for value, not just sales
What are you actually giving your audience? Your sales people may want it to be something akin to those Remington adverts from the 80s, but you need to make sure you’re actually giving your audience something they need.
Approach every piece of content as a value exchange and make sure your consumer is getting (most of) the value. Don’t just sell. Build editorial around sales.
Nearly 80% of content marketers saying that increasing their company’s online visibility is their primary content marketing goal.
In some cases, you might not be able to get away without overt sales messaging. We like to think of these like the ads in a magazine. If you produce enough quality, useful content around these ‘ads’, your audience will forgive you for the odd sales drive.
3. Be relevant
ABM, or Accounts Based Marketing, is becoming increasingly popular in B2B content strategy. For the uninitiated it means that rather than looking at entire verticals when targeting your content, you’re marketing to one; looking at an organisation’s issues and tailoring your content to offer solutions to its issues specifically.
This approach might not deliver the volume of leads or the one-size-fits-all content coverage you crave, but it does deliver one very significant advantage: client relevance.
— Adam Roberts (@aweroberts) August 2, 2017
Speak to your sales team and get them to highlight individual client issues that you can target with content. No-one knows your audience better than the team that is talking to them as regularly as your sales department.
We’ve spent many years working with businesses on B2B content. The one thing that’s true of almost all of them is that content to them represents a 3,000-word completist article that leaves very little to the imagination – or left in the tank – for follow-ups. It also doesn’t scream innovation. And shouldn’t you be showing off how innovative your company is with your content?
The maxim you need to follow is ‘standout or be lost’. B2B and B2C content both need to answer the same question: what do I (the customer) get from this?
B2C focused companies tend to be vastly better at doing this than their B2B cousins, but there are some great examples of B2B content out there.
Infographics may be dead, but there are many other ways to present B2B content.
Cisco, for example, has done a great job of telling its product stories in an engaging way with the rich storytelling of its Never Better campaign, while Lockheed Martin’s Field Trip to Mars was the single most awarded campaign at Cannes Lions 2016.
Then there’s Norton’s epic, 20-minute ‘The Most Dangerous Town on the Internet’. The stories are unmistakably B2B, but the attitude is very much more of a traditional B2C approach to content marketing.
5. Be better
This might be obvious to you. It might not. The days of spewing content out and spending your way to success are over. Everyone’s spending. They have to.
While it’s something of a golden era for content targeting – with Facebook giving you unprecedented control over micro-audience-targeting and LinkedIn giving you similar flexibility, albeit for a vastly increased fee – SEO is still the Holy Grail for long-term content success.
In fact, in a Clutch survey of 300 content marketers, nearly 80% said their main goal with content marketing was to increase their company’s online visibility.
Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz, has this to say on the subject of content and SEO:
Content marketing and SEO are two practices that very much need each other. Well ranked content needs to be ten times better than anything else on the subject in the search results today.
6. Test (and learn)
‘Agile’ is a word we hear a lot. It’s good to be agile. What’s better than just being agile is to adopt an approach that takes results and modifies its strategy based on those results.
‘Test and learn’ is the way we approach content. Data is your friend here, so make sure you have people either in-house or in an external agency that can help you read and interpret the data you have available to you.
And make sure you act on it. There’s nothing more heartbreaking in content marketing than to see telltale signs ignored for weeks or months on end when the solution is writ large in the data. Take heed.
We hope you’ve found this article useful, but if you still need a helping hand then feel free to get in touch on [email protected] and let’s chat. We’d love to hear from you.