Over the past two decades, B2B marketers have become obsessed with connecting to people on the internet, like the rest of us, in an attempt to reach our audiences and help them through the buyer’s journey.
To say this internet-savvy has transformed B2B purchases is an understatement. I don’t need to tell you how easily accessible information is, and how fast everything seems to move these days. B2B companies are forced to try and evolve with the speed of information in the 21st Century, which means the ways buyers get their information is constantly changing. B2B companies have to keep up.
Merely churning out content and spending all your time trying to game Google to appear at the top of search results no longer works; Google may be a dumb robot, but it’s backed by thousands of programmers figuring out better ways to understand search intent and deliver the best (or most profitable–let’s be real) information to the user. It’s not enough just to write a weekly blog; the chance of your prospective buyers finding it is slim unless you uncover some hyper-specific long-tail keywords.
So where does that leave B2B marketers? The B2B marketing landscape has become increasingly wieldy to try to navigate; blogs and whitepapers by themselves aren’t enough to move the needle. And while written content will always be important, the best content marketing out there extends beyond just whitepapers to a combination of long-form and short-form content, social posts, videos and interactive pieces. And it’s got to have a strong strategy in front of it and distribution behind it.
The content itself has to be good. The experience has to be exciting. And it takes a well-thought-out strategy to deliver the content to your target audience.
B2B marketers need to influence and impact the entirety of the conversation around a company and solution. We call this the “brand dialogue.”
We can boil the brand dialogue framework down to three buckets: Content Creation, Content Experience and Content Distribution.
Your content strategy needs to ladder up to your marketing strategy, which ladders up to your business strategy. Otherwise, your efforts are wasted and out of alignment. Getting your content strategy right requires an understanding of your business goals and an understanding of your customers and prospects. Compelling, relevant content can connect these two disparate points on the content continuum. Types of content you can develop include:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Social media graphics
- Digital and social media ads
- Email copy
But as we discussed, it’s not enough just to develop content, hit publish and then wait for the leads to roll in.
The content B2B brands deliver to customers must be packaged in a way that draws them in. In other words, you have to create a great content experience—clean design, smart UX and consistent branding. God forbid, maybe you even create a little interactive experience.
The B2B content experience includes:
- Designed emails/email templates
- PPT/slides decks
- Email campaigns
Having the best, most beautiful content doesn’t matter if you can’t get the right eyes on it. There is no one true way to distribute and promote your content; every campaign is unique, with specific channels to connect the message to the audience.
Content distribution strategies include:
- Media relations
- Paid search campaigns
- Inbound marketing and marketing automation strategy
- Native advertising
- Media partnerships and sponsorships
- Paid social media advertising
- Digital advertising
Even with this brand dialogue framework in front of you, it’s still up to marketers to know the greater business goals, understand the audience’s pain points and deliver content to the right audience at the right time in the right way. In other words, this approach isn’t plug-and-play. But developing some sophistication around your marketing approach can help you reach the right people, influence them and have more meaningful conversations that drive actual business success.