According to Content Marketing Institute’s report published last week, the most successful B2B content marketers (90 percent) prioritize the audience’s informational needs over their company’s sales/promotional message. In addition to this, there are tons of statistics and studies that support non-commercial messaging and helpful information over sales-y language in your content marketing. But no matter how many stats or studies are published, I’ll page through a manufacturing trade magazine and still find a variation of the following messaging from brands:
- The leader in <insert product category>
- Optimal performance in <insert product category>
- #1 in <insert product category>
- The right <insert product category> for you!
- 100 years of being in business.
Not only is every brand saying the same thing, but what they’re saying isn’t even relevant to the audience.
B2B marketers, we can do better than this. We’re smarter than this. And no matter what industry you’re in, you have a great opportunity that B2C counterparts don’t always have. And that is speaking to a deeper need.
Your business is not selling a commodity like Ketchup. Attracting a buyer and building trust throughout a long sales cycle takes more than product features and price, number of locations or years in business. It takes educating them and giving them the information and tools they need to do their job better. It takes positioning your brand as a thought leader in the industry and having a unique, bold point of view to stand out among copycat brands.
Make 2019 the year you stop selling through your content (leave that for the sales reps) and start solving customers’ and prospects’ problems with your content. Start by budgeting and planning now for the activities below.
Research – When’s the last time you talked to your customers and prospects? Often we’re so focused on how we get our message out into the market place and how to generate leads that we don’t stop to understand what messages will resonate and what marketing channels the audience is using. Talk to your customers and prospects first, whether it’s through a handful of win/loss phone calls, a customer journey mapping exercise or a larger industry survey, budget for some type of research next year to determine what information your audience needs and where they find it.
Thought leadership platform – Imagine I told you I secured a keynote podium for you at your industry’s biggest conference of the year, but the catch was you couldn’t talk about your products or do any form of selling and my expectation was a high level of engagement from conference attendees—what would you speak to? If you struggle to answer that question with clarity and/or the scenario gives you hives, you could benefit from a well-defined thought leadership platform. At a basic level, a platform outlines one to three themes your company can have an authentic and authoritative point of view on. More specifically, the themes must provide value to your prospective customers—meeting a need for information or education while demonstrating proof of your brand promise.
Content audit – After researching your audience and finding out what information matters to them, where they find information and distilling it into a thought leadership platform, consider auditing your existing content to understand what’s working, what’s not and what needs to be updated.
Content operations – For content marketing to be successful and work smoothly for your brand, you need to have a well-organized and documented workflow that ensures consistent execution of the strategy you’ve developed. It’s the glue that holds everything together and keeps your marketing team and agency partners aligned and accountable. Content operations tactics, such as maintaining a content calendar, assigning editing and approval roles, and implementing periodic cross-functional brainstorms sound obvious, but are often overlooked.
Not only will prioritizing your audience’s informational needs over a sales/promotional message improve results, but it will make 2019 a more rewarding and fun year for you. Contact us to learn how to get started: firstname.lastname@example.org.