Don’t tell anyone. We mean it.
The world of marketing is a world of smoke and mirrors. Sleight of hand and distraction. Or so some marketers would have you think.
In reality, there’s a logical strategy to everything that happens in a marketing agency. The ultimate goal is to connect a customer who needs a product or service with the company that can provide it. Marketing ensures that these two parties meet sooner rather than later. We leave the feats of illusion to Derren Brown.
Content marketing, more specifically, helps us to achieve these specific goals via different kinds of written or designed content, or ‘assets’. This can be blogs, videos, social posts, eBooks, podcasts or anything else can that uses the written or spoken word.
What’s in a B2B content marketing strategy?
There’s a number of ways to bring businesses and customers together through content. Here are some approaches that businesses take:
- Building trust and reputation within an industry by producing informative and valuable content for customers. This is all about showcasing knowledge, rather than selling a product.
Find out how we built trust through thoughtful content in our work with NTT.
- Creating helpful content to assist customers in finding the right solution or managing a common industry problem. Sometimes that solution happens to be your product, but not always.
Find out how we created helpful content that better serves customers for the Microsoft Partner network.
- Engaging with customers via social media and blog posts to create a brand personality that resonates with them, and building a tone of voice that matches your brand’s identity.
See how we achieved this with TCS as part of their London Marathon sponsorship campaign.
In B2B, the customer is also a business. But this doesn’t change the need to make a human connection. This is something we discussed in our Ask Us Anything Webinar a couple of months back. If you didn’t catch it, here is small clip from our webinar:
B2B content strategies that’ll work at your business
If you watched the webinar, you’ll recall our Head of Content, Stephen Reilly, explaining the importance of ‘making B2B interesting’. Despite some big names and ground-breaking innovations, B2B has long been seen as the less sexy counterpart to B2C marketing and advertising. But this presents an opportunity for those willing to add a little zest to their marketing efforts.
Here are some content marketing strategies to help your B2B efforts stand out:
Human 2 Human
As Stephen said in our webinar, “Talk to people like they’re humans”. It sounds obvious, but it’s something many B2B brands get wrong. When they start creating content that is intended for a business audience, they forget about the person reading it and go into business jargon mode.
Try addressing the reader as ‘you’ in your content. Use an active voice, instead of a passive one. Try to cut back on the jargon and common ‘business-speak’ words that make your content feel cold and detached (words like “leverage”, “utilize” and “initiate”, when “use” or “start” will do.)
It can help to imagine you are speaking to the customer as you write, some marketers even say the words out loud as they write them to see if it sounds natural and personable. If you want your content to find the right people, it needs to be written for people.
Howard Gossage, or the ‘The San Fran Socrates’ as he was known in 1950s ad land, once said, “The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. They read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”
To get people to read, watch or listen to your content, first you have to interest them. When the CEO of a tech start-up is scrolling through LinkedIn, she isn’t thinking about your company. She’s thinking about who she needs to hire next, where to take the new clients for lunch, how to stay on track for the latest release.
So, write content that addresses their problems – even if it isn’t directly connected to your product or service. Find out what keeps your target audience up at night and try to solve that problem. Whether it’s through a webinar series, a guidebook, an explainer video – solve the problem that your customer is experiencing, and you’ll begin to build trust and a solid reputation. Content marketing is about creating value for your audience. That’s what holds their attention and places you in a position of authority. And when your audience is ready to buy, you’ll be at the front of their mind.
Interest is subjective
Another point that Stephen touched on in the webinar was that we sometimes misinterpret what is meant by ‘interesting’. In consumer tech, interesting is the biggest, lightest, most powerful, feature-packed product. But in B2B it’s a little more nuanced. The best B2B content marketers know how to generate interest in niche marketplaces.
Once again it comes back around to the understanding you have of your customer, and of the industry you are part of. If you target the right people, you can interest a smaller group of people that are more likely to make a purchasing decision, rather than appealing to a mass of people who aren’t interested in your product or service.
So when we think about whether B2B content marketing is ‘interesting’ or not, what we should really be focussing on is who it is interesting to. Latch onto the topics that your target audience find interesting and you’ll make more progress.
AI: Friend not foe
In 2022 we saw an explosion of new AI tools that made many marketers shuffle uneasily in their seats. ChatGPT was among the most impressive. But while some see this as the robot revolution finally coming to render the role of ‘human marketer’ obsolete, others see it as an opportunity.
Generating ideas and brainstorming can be the most difficult part of content marketing. It becomes slightly easier when you’ve got a team of other marketing minds to share thoughts and bounce ideas off. Tools like OpenAI Playground and ChatGPT can help content creators to start the creative process. These tools provide a good starting point but lack personality or that all important human connection.
It’s time to start using AI tools (while they’re still free!) to help improve the creative process, reduce research time and stamp out writers’ block.
As a full-service B2B agency, we’re proud to have experts across the board, not just in content. If you watched the webinar, you’ll have already met our Head of Performance Marketing, Martina, and our Head of Strategy, Barnaby. These are just some of the marketing talent that keep our clients coming back for more.
We’re always happy to chat, whether it’s about the things you’ve read in this blog, or about making a start on a new marketing strategy. Get in touch with our team today.