Developing a B2B-Centric Content Marketing Strategy
Editor preface: This is not an expert level article. However, it is packed with B2B strategy insights that perhaps we all need to remind ourselves of once in a while, and will certainly be very helpful to anyone below the most accomplished and experienced B2B marketers. And it is the first effort for us by yet another excellent new Curatti writer!
Content is the jewel of digital marketing. Without great content, it is very unlikely that any business will survive online. People (or more to the point, potential clients), search the web looking for information more often than for products or services, as you probably know. With B2B businesses, this is not different.
But, despite the fact that many B2B businesses are very aware of the importance of content marketing, it doesn’t mean that they are getting the results they expected with it. According to the report B2B Content Marketing 2016: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, and sponsored by Brightcove, 55% of B2B marketers confessed they have very little idea of what is an effective or a successful content marketing program, just for starters. And here is where the need to develop a strategy becomes essential.
What is a good strategy in B2B Content Marketing?
It might sound obvious that you must have some kind of strategy implemented if you want to achieve your goals. You might even be sure that you have it all perfectly organized, just because you know how much money you want to get from your online business.
But the truth is that a successful strategy relies on having the answers to some essential questions, and using them to guide when, where and what you will publish online from now on. And it takes plenty of research, statistics, brainstorming and other tools to be achieved, so you can be sure that you have gathered all information and data you need in order to make decisions based on reliable facts.
Nobody is suggesting that you shouldn’t trust in your gut feelings or expertise anymore. Only that you should consider more than that before deciding what to publish next. Plus, you might have a team that needs a definitive guide of what is expected (goals) and how they should try to accomplish them (tactics) in order to support your journey.
What is the difference in B2B Content Marketing?
B2B content marketing has some very specific characteristics that make it distinctive from B2C when it comes to target audience. And in case these intricacies aren’t clear in your mind at the moment, let’s refresh them for you. Based on suggestions from Serps.com, potential B2B customers:
- Don’t make decisions alone
- Are less focused on pricing
- Are less impulsive
- Want to be part of a learning process
In other words, because your client is a company in B2B, you know you are likely to be dealing with a “plural client”. Buying something, no matter how cheap it is, might require a complex internal process of decision-making, all based on real needs.
With the exception of one-person enterprises, you will also have to convince not only the person you are talking to but also their boss (even if you never talk to their superiors), that your product is the best one in the market.
On the other hand, if your contact is a member of the staff, they are likely to be less focused on pricing, as the money is not leaving their own pockets. And they might want to know very specific details about your product or service through more engaging content because they want to be able to explain why they chose your offer, and to show off a bit of expertise.
Having that in mind, it becomes clear that your B2B content marketing strategy must have a very different shape as compared to what is offered by a B2C business. Your target audience has particular requirements and expectations, so your content should be aligned with this reality.
So, what are the questions that you need to answer?
In order to have an effective B2B content marketing strategy, you will need to be prepared to answer some essential questions in a very precise way. And here they are:
- What is your business selling? What brings uniqueness to your product or service? What is your added value?
- Who is your target audience? What are they expecting from you? How can they be reached?
- What are your goals? What are you trying to achieve?
These questions might sound very basic, but you would be surprised by how many businesses don’t have it clear enough. Most of the time, they will have just a vague idea of the answers, especially when it comes to their target audience. Or this kind of information is considered as top secret, and stays with the board of directors only, never getting to be shared with the content marketing team.
And yet, these answers are essential to any content marketing strategy. If you don’t know what you are selling, why someone should choose your business instead of a competitor one, where you are heading, and what your clients want, how can you possible curate the content you will publish on your blog, site or social media network?
That is to say that the first step of any effective B2B strategy is answering those questions based on reliable and double-checked sources. Then you should write it down, validate it with whoever is responsible for making this kind of decision, and then share it with your digital marketing team as soon as possible.
Align your strategy with the latest trends in content marketing
Recently LinkedIn talked to 7 experts about insights on how to create a smart B2B content marketing strategy. Among plenty of very useful pieces of advice, some of them stood out, such as Michael Brenner’s comment regarding promotional content marketing.
Brenner, currently the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, urged B2B businesses to stop publishing promotional content, for instance. He mentioned that according to a study made by the Economist Group, “the majority of B2B customers are annoyed by pitches, with 71 percent of B2B executives reporting that content they didn’t like seemed more like a sales pitch than valuable information”. And it brings us back to what was discussed above about B2B target audience being more interested in content that includes a learning process.
This way, you should include in your research for the best strategy a careful look at the latest trends available in content marketing out there, so you can learn from experts and save yourself from a waste of time and money.
Developing a strategy is crucial to any B2B content marketing. Without it, you might just be throwing your budget and the talent of your team in the bin, as there will be nobody out there reaching your content. And if your target audience isn’t hearing what you have to say, you certainly aren’t converting them into paying customers – no need to point out how bad it is to your business!
So get your content marketing strategy fine-tuned today. No more delays. Then just track the results, and notice the difference on your charts by the end of each month.
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Jonathan Emmen – junior SEO specialist and a passionate blogger from Copenhagen and regular contributor for different educational and entertainment blogs. Follow him on Twitter to find more.
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