If you were to browse the websites, social media pages, digital footprint, and sales content of 500 B2B businesses across a range of industries from professional services to manufacturing, logistics, cyber security, and more, you would find very little variation across the board. They would all sound alike – accolades, best in class, testimonials, case studies, and success stories. Essentially, a lot of self-serving content. A lot of traditional (aka boring) content. And no real distinction between competitors.
This is what your customers come across each time they’re researching a service provider or a product, which makes the decision making process dreadful and laborious. If everyone sounds alike, where’s the real value proposition? Who’s truly building brand?
Content is undervalued in the B2B world.
Your business may be innovative, but your content doesn’t scream it. Content is undervalued because it’s underutilized in the sense of it being the driver to building brand, accelerating your sales pipeline, driving thought leadership, and expanding your digital footprint.
The rest of this post won’t be about content marketing and the importance of it. This is a practical approach on the types of content that every B2B company should double down on whether you already have some content or just getting started.
Establish industry authority
If everyone from the CEO and senior leadership down to key staff, customer support, and even your back office staff aren’t contributing their voices to the company’s brand, then you’re missing a huge opportunity. Starting from the top, the company should establish industry authority by creating content that drives insights, uncovering trends or data through published research reports or studies, publishing an ebook or industry manual, writing white papers and case studies, and even producing a branded podcast.
The CEO should also establish a personal brand that drives back up to the personal brand. This takes form through a company blog, writing thought pieces and op-eds, securing guest features and interviews, and everything in between to drive thought leadership.
Staff shouldn’t be exempt. A well rounded organization elevates the voices of everyone in the company even if they are not in a decision making position. Your staff’s interaction in the company brand adds value. Everyone from the receptionist to the account clerk and HR manager has a unique perspective to add to the organizational blog, social media, and podcast.
Become a content factory
You should be producing content at scale and across platforms. Think at least 50-100 pieces of content each week whether that’s a Tweet or Instagram post, LinkedIn comments, a podcast episode, blog post, or email campaign. For content to work effectively to scale awareness, build brand, and accelerate your pipeline of prospective customers, you have to become a content factory.
The easiest way to think of this is to either become an educational brand or act like a media company. The former drives value by building on a knowledge base and creating content around that. The more you educate your audience, the deeper the brand engagement. The latter approach is to become the industry whisperer – become the brand that shares stories, trends, and news around the industry. A blog and podcast is a greater format for this. We go into detail on both concepts in an earlier post in our B2B masterclass series.
Give your best advice for free
Organic sales is so much easier than having to constantly churn leads. And if you become the educational brand as your positioning strategy, then you essentially have a sales engine working organically around the clock. You do so by giving your best advice for free. If you look at this the wrong way, you might think that giving away all of the goods means that your customers don’t need you and can do it themselves. Wrong! In fact, they’ll need you even more. Educating and add value without expecting anything in return shows that you’re on the side of seeing your customers win. It also shows that the company is not self-serving and is a knowledge expert. Knowledge is free. What people pay for is to make their lives easier and to solve their problems.
Use Account Based Marketing for high value prospects
You should already know specific clients that you want to win and exactly what their pains and challenges are. If not, then you should do customer research to identify who your best types of clients are and then narrow down to the clients that you’d specifically like to win.
Once you’ve identified your target prospects, reverse engineer the sale by marketing around their needs. Create content that speaks directly to them and personalize it. Create an entire content funnel that takes them from top-of-the-funnel down until they actually consider doing business and sales closes the deal.
As we’ve said in an earlier post in this series, a lot of B2B marketing is self serving and treats the branding process like job interviews. The business sells itself by talking about its qualifications and track record and really only just pushing its own agenda. Successful relationships are bi-directional. Otherwise, you fail in placing the focus on the customer
B2B Marketing Series
This post is part of our mini masterclass series to help B2B companies overcome marketing inertia so that it ultimately results in a funnel that generates, nurtures and converts leads to revenue. The entire marketing funnel that we use for B2B businesses consists of pipeline acceleration campaigns, multichannel demand generation, account based marketing, thought leadership, go-to-market strategy, content syndication, webinars, video, in-person meetings, interactive infographic, PPC management, marketing automation, social media and reputation management, and a robust B2B content strategy.