There’s still some way to go before B2B businesses can fully explore the cool, creative methods of content marketing that the B2C space currently gets to play with. For B2B firms dealing in heavily regulated markets, or industries known for being particularly “dry”, truly creative content creation can feel even more out of reach. So how, through content marketing, do you lose the restraints of a “boring” industry, get yourself heard, and do something different in the B2B space?
Ok, so it’s unlikely a hilarious Times Square flash-mob video promoting your products or a slick, TV ad with George Clooney on voiceover will be signed off by your MD in your next strategy meeting. So what other options are there? Here’s some seriously smart approaches to generating and sharing content in a way that will grab your audience’s attention and boost brand presence.
1. Be outspoken, be memorable
Take a good look around. What are your competitors, industry spokespeople and thought-leaders talking about? And what’s NOT being said? Find a unique perspective or angle on trends and topics your clients care about. Consider how you can be memorable and become known for sharing B2B content that makes people sit up and listen, while others are saying the same old, same old.
And what if you don’t take the time to understand who’s doing what with their content marketing in your industry? Well, the risk is you churn out the same stuff as everyone else, or slightly different versions of it. How can you develop stand-out B2B content without knowing what’s around? Sounds obvious, but it’s a step many marketers still miss.
Brave some controversy
A company voice itself can also be memorable, be it heard through company communications or through the language of its spokespeople and employees. Stepping up to the mic with either a strong tone of voice or controversial take on things can really pay off. Explore how you can be thought-provoking, or challenge current thinking in a meaningful way? Of course, this only works when backed with substance.
Point in case… which of these blog titles are you more likely to read?
“Driving business growth with artificial intelligence”
“90% of AI spend has zero lasting value – so why bother with AI at all?”
“How to connect with busy professionals”
“Why successful people are douchebags”
Consider building a choir of voices, using multiple spokespeople to tackle industry topics and share a range of insights, debate and thought-provoking angles. If you’re communicating with numerous buyer personas this well worth a look-in, as you can align spokespeople to appeal to each buyer group.
But back it up
This approach can be nerve-wracking for the marketer at the helm. So, back it up with checkpoints. Especially at the start, ensure the right eyes are on any outspoken, challenging content you’re putting out. Ready your spokespeople with responses for any retort that may come. Weigh up any potential risks versus the end result of improved brand authenticity, increased reach and shareability of your content.
Some good examples of people putting their mark on the world through brave approaches to their content marketing are: Gary Vaynerchuk, Liz Ryan & Doug Kessler. And then there’s Trump… leading the way in some respect but no doubt causing heart failure daily for his poor PR team.
2. Team up and turn up the volume
Primary research and insights can be gold dust for building unique, valuable B2B content. However, conducting interviews, running surveys and then compiling all the data into a cohesive, compelling whitepaper that excites is time and resource intensive (not to mention chews through budget).
Look then to your network, your partners or industry influencers in your space that complement what you do. Teaming up with other (bigger) brands or people who serve a similar audience, with points of view that work together with yours, can increase the success of your content marketing efforts tenfold. Provided you and your partners have a keen eye on what the market wants to hear – this can be an excellent way to create highly valuable B2B content.
Not only can you benefit from the wisdom of experts outside your business, but the amplification from their outreach, audience and networks will get you heard where you wouldn’t otherwise. Joining budgets on research or content initiatives will also typically help your marketing bucks go further.
Let’s move onto look at what you can do in terms of content format. Having an attention-grabbing approach, and dream team of partners to build content with will only take you so far. Being Google-savvy must be a key tactic with content creation.
We are drowning in information overload, with over 2 million new blog posts being created every day (oooof)! Almost quickly as a question pops up, we can Google it and have reems of instant answers. The challenge here is this can lead to information fatigue. Your prospects and clients are tiring of content that’s general, or just slightly helpful – stuff they could find anywhere. They’re seeking out (and expect) high calibre articles that resonate with them. Content which helps solve their issues, shed new light while entertaining them in some way too. They’re looking for new takes and unique insights, backed by expertise and credibility.
For even the most skilled copywriters, coming up with content that addresses all these needs in short blogs or articles is incredibly challenging. How can you truly get to the crux of a matter or explore a topic deeply in so few words? Couple with that the shift in how 500-800 word blogs perform compared to longer, more in-depth pieces of content and we see it’s time pay attention to long-form.
In this article, Neil Patel shares why long-form is so powerful. Research also tells us that long-form blog posts can generate 9x more leads than short form posts and strengthen or build your authority as a thought-leader.
This will boost your SEO health too. As search engine algorithms have become smarter (as in AI smart) they now better understand user intent which eliminates the need to try to rank for every long-tail keyword.
Instead of creating lots of different blog posts for each long-tail keyword, build a few high-quality ‘pillar’ posts for your business’s key search themes (i.e. those main topics your audience would search for). Enrich them with detail, optimise them for conversions and link them to secondary B2B content. That secondary content should relate to topics similar to your pillar keyword. This link is important both for SEO and to help your website visitors to navigate your content. HubSpot explains this nice and simply in this video.
Revisit and repurpose
Take a look back at previous content. What here could be built out to a long-form piece, and repurposed with a new tone or standpoint?
Why Successful People Are Douchebags – June14, QuickSprout
100+ Internet Stats and Facts for 2018 – Feb18, Web Hosting Rating
Topic Clusters: The Next Evolution of Content Strategy – Jul17, HubSpot
The Future of Content Strategy – HubSpot
SMEs on YouTube: How Small Business can utilise the platform and grow – Feb17, Marke2ing