It’s odd to assume that even though businesses draw their target audience with compelling content, some companies still struggle to make content marketing work for their needs. The playing field is rarely level in the B2B marketing world, usually because of the strategies applied.
B2B content marketing isn’t easy or static, and it comes with a host of challenges. Highly niche-oriented products, long buying cycles, lack of low (or medium) competition, and high-volume commercial keywords can further make it challenging to gain traction.
A perfect B2B content strategy addresses niche topics, focuses on building authority, and works on complex sales cycles that require multiple sales touchpoints across the entire sales funnel.
And here is the key term: authority.
Consistently acquiring a substantial ROI from content marketing is the specific goal of any B2B company. The best way to accomplish this is to build trust among your existing customers and prospects.
What is Thought Leadership Content Marketing?
Thought leadership can be defined as becoming an authority in your industry by delivering answers to the critical questions of your target audience. One of the ways a company becomes a thought leader is by using content marketing to propel its brand forward.
Some B2B marketers and even a few companies do a great job leveraging it, whereas some of the more established brands seem to fall behind. As a marketer for a B2B brand, you can think of this as an opportunity. While other brands still invest most of their resources in advertising, you can conquer the top spots of search engines with your thought leadership content.
The traditional marketing funnel is seriously outdated. B2B consumers no longer sit still to care about TV ads one after the other. Instead, they prefer brands that “speak” to them directly. The brand-customer relationship is no longer a one-way communication.
Do you still call customer support or reach out to a company on Twitter for open communication? Rather than going through printed manuals, we like to surf online to look for the information we need. The brands that provide consumers with this information will win their hearts–and money.
Every B2B content strategy is unique, and that’s completely different from B2C content marketing.
B2B customers insist upon thorough education. They want to understand every aspect of a product or service, and content must provide that. They want others in the organization, especially their superiors, to know that they have conducted their research. That means you need to provide that research so that they look “smart.”
Enter thought leadership content marketing. It can be a key “differentiator” between success and failure.
B2B brands can unlock the door to more elevated brand positioning when they harness the power of content marketing. Such content strategy builds:
- Trust: Well-produced thought leadership content builds trust and connections between a brand and its prospects.
- Community: When you practice the thought leadership creator role and deliver exactly the kind of content your audience needs, you start creating a community of like-minded people because people start recognizing you as an authoritative expert.
- Social Exposure: People like to share great content, and they want to follow thought leaders. Ultimately, you get social media followers, post engagement, LinkedIn connections, etc.
- Social Proof: Becoming a guest on podcasts, video case studies, and client testimonials all qualify as content that can provide social proof of the benefits and value of your product or service.
Some B2B companies work sincerely to find ways to make their content more effective. However, content marketing is constantly changing…since it is consumers and their needs that are changing in the first place.
That being said, the following section of this article will explore four B2B content strategies and practices you need to implement to become a real authority in your industry.
Practice #1 – B2B Content Marketing Doesn’t Mean Talking About Yourself
I get to read tweets a lot about content marketing every day. Some people think content marketing just means running a company blog, social media pages, and maybe a Linkedin profile. And they should talk only about their company.
Ask yourself this: Would you like to read an entire blog only talking about one company? Probably not. You might think that starting a company blog means writing about how great your company is. However, this is the quickest way to bore your readers right past your website.
So what should you write (or talk) about? You should talk about topics that are relevant to your audience.
Let’s consider those sales calls you are getting every day, for instance.
CASE 1: Someone you don’t know calls and begins to drone on about how his product is the best you can find. Do you tend to believe him?
RESULT: Will you relish this call or see any value in it? You will most likely just tune it out.
CASE 2: However, consider a different scenario where you meet that same salesperson. But this time, instead of launching into their pitch, they ask questions about your business and help you solve a problem you’ve been tackling for a while without even pitching their product.
RESULT: Chances are you will begin to consider them a helpful resource to solve your problem. Their product or service will probably be one of the first you consider when tackling a problem in your industry.
B2B content strategy works just like that. First, think about the problems your audience is facing and then help them solve them.
Unbounce, for example, is a landing page platform that provides turnkey solutions to SMBs and Startups. Instead of discussing their platform, their blog focuses on conversion optimization, call-to-actions, and landing pages. It provides tips and best practices while also analyzing landing pages from around the web to help you learn what works and what doesn’t.
Why did leading B2B brands go through all this content creation trouble? The answer is simple: to become a trustworthy source.
Practice #2 – Study Your Competitors
Alright, this may seem painfully obvious, but it’s surprising how many marketers can rattle off the names of their competitors…and that’s why this point deserves to be on this list.
Identify the competitors and categorize them. Analyze their websites, social media pages, and their reviews. Deep study their blog strategy and FAQ pages. What type of products do they offer? How do they display them on the landing pages? What is already written on this niche? What can you add to it?
Join social media groups that discuss topics relevant to your niche. Not only are they great for learning, but they will also come in handy for the next step–distribution. While listening in, consider these questions: What types of content do well there? What kinds of content get shared? What triggers a discussion?
Hence, it’s important to understand the objective of one’s content efforts and rule out prior misconceptions so the campaign won’t lose its way.
If your competitors have figured it out, you can too. Whatever it is you’re selling, there is a niche topic you can talk about. Research, stick to it, and you will become the “go-to” reference point for your audience.
Practice #3 – Movement First Approach
Your ultimate goal in researching and writing B2B content is to build credibility with key decision-makers. Movement-first content approach (or thought leadership) can build up your momentum and get the attention of industry people.
The serial founder, David Cummings, coined this term while he was differentiating product-first start-ups from movement-first startups.
You might be obsessed with your awesome B2B product, but you must also carry the movement-first culture in B2B overall marketing.
Your B2B content should center around educating B2B consumers about the better way to solve their problems, most often through real-time examples, practical tips, and case scenarios.
Be generous and creative. Unlike B2C marketing, you’ll have to take your stand as a contrarian, coin your own “buzzwords,” and define your own way of solving things. Demonstrate that there’s a better way to do something and use your subject expertise to show others the way.
The movement-first content approach also helps you humanize your B2B brand. If done right, your content pieces would lean on personalized stories and experiences, and they can be a foolproof way to showcase your expertise and trustworthiness.
Practice #4 – Try Different Content Formats
As you look at typical topic ideas, think about how to package that content best. B2B content is a bit different than B2C, and specific content formats perform really well. Writing engaging content can come in many forms, as follows:
- Interviews with experts: Find other experts related to the product or service you sell or to the industry you sell to, or people who can exchange data-driven communication, expert opinions, and new trends.
Let’s assume you sell HR software. Get some acknowledged HR managers from reputable firms and interview them about new trends in HR management and administration. This gives you credibility because of who you are hanging out with.
- Webinars: Host these live, announce them, publicize them, and take “reservations” so you know that you have participants. You can even record the event, publish it to YouTube and provide a link to that video on your website, Twitter profile, and Facebook page.
- Case Studies: This content type brings credibility to your work. With a case study, you can show that your product or service has been selected and used by real customers. The good news is that most clients are happy to be quoted as case studies.
- Use Hard Data: B2B marketing performs better if your content is packed with hard facts and data. Tell data-driven stories and gain improved attention within your industry.
But that doesn’t mean you should only create long-form blog posts and case studies. Some of the other content types used by effective content marketers include white papers, eBooks, videos, podcasts, and infographics. Some B2B folks even saw tremendous results and increased the number of leads through gated content.
Also, repurpose content. Change either the content itself or the format of the content but in a different way or on a different publishing platform.
What’s Your Experience with B2B Content Marketing?
High-quality B2B content marketing is all about creating the proper strategy and executing that effectively. If you can understand who you are writing for and your goals, you can set thought leadership in content marketing and do it in a way that makes sense for any B2B business.
Remember that the primary motive of your content is to educate others and solve their problems. There shouldn’t be any place for stuffing it unnecessarily with sales tactics and messages.
Optimize your content marketing strategy with TechWyse Internet Marketing! Our team will create engaging content that propels your brand across all platforms. We also provide a comprehensive range of digital marketing services, from SEO and PPC to web design and social media management. Call (416)-410-7090 or contact us here.