Is this the year your B2B content marketing will really get off the launch pad and maybe even boldly go where it’s never gone before?
Maybe you’ve already made solid progress, but the demands and expectations of B2B customers and prospects researching online for their next product or service purchases are ever-changing.
Where publishing a specification sheet or marketing leaflet on your website might have once (a long time ago) been enough to ignite interest in a potential client, you’re now in competition with companies publishing everything from blog posts to case studies and video content (not to mention reaching their customers through media coverage).
The more a buyer understands your business, your opinions on key issues and trends and your expert insights as well as your product (in that order), the more likely you’ll be building awareness, a connection, consideration – and be seen as a trusted provider before they ever pick up the phone to you directly.
In 2022, this is nothing new.
However, a recent LinkedIn event run by the always-reliable Content Marketing Institute’s team highlighted some B2B content marketing resolutions for this year.
And underpinning all their advice to creating content is the idea that it should be authentic and not just selling.
Listen, understand – create
The CMI’s editorial director, Kim Moutsos, talked about “hanging out with your customers in 2022”. She explained: “If you approach a friend and only want to talk about you, it’s exhausting. Lead with listening to them for a while.”
Kim said that by listening to the community you want to reach – understanding how people talk to each other and help each other – you can identify their pain points and information needs.
“With those ingredients [you can] start to incorporate that into content; something that speaks to them in the way they speak to each other,” she said, adding: “It’s a relationship nurtured over time.”
Video – doing more than just killing the radio star
Stephanie Stahl, general manager at the CMI, believes it’s time for B2B businesses to recognise the opportunity presented by video content: “Video is such a memorable form of storytelling – not just for marketers [but also] for the sales community. People like to buy from brands they trust and learn from knowledgeable people. [Video] builds credibility and makes your brand more human.”
And beyond communicating with customers, at a time of the so-called “Great Resignation” content plays a vital role in acquiring employees as well. Stephanie added: “What can you share with them that makes your company unique and the work you do important besides revenue? What makes existing customers love you? This should come out in your content.”
Make it your mission
Moutsos mentioned the value of having a mission statement for your content marketing; something to help you remember why you create content in the first place.
One consumer marketing example cited was ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s: the company’s involvement in social causes unrelated to ice cream and its partnerships with organisations involved in particular issues gives the business permission to create content that borrows credibility from those organisations.
But this comes with a word of caution: “It’s tricky to take a stand that’s not in alignment with what you do, such as Burger King trying to get involved with the mental health discussion without explaining why and then connecting mental health to a new product, cheapening their message. It needs to make sense for your brand to get involved with,” Moutsos added.
In a similar vein, it matters more today for companies to consider diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in their marketing activity.
Amie Cangelosi, CMI marketing director, described how companies’ content marketing activities should resonate authentically with diverse audiences. And if they are ill-equipped to know how to do that internally, then external partnerships can help plug the gap.
As well as the use of language that supports DEI, having more diverse imagery in content, and better accessibility for disabled people – such as easier navigation online and captions for video/audio content – should be part of the picture.
And the “E” word – empathy; how far is this relevant to B2B businesses in their content marketing and communications activity?
Stahl was adamant: “It bolsters B2B business goals. Having empathy, purpose and passion for what you’re doing equals ROI, without question.”
Do you need to improve your B2B content marketing? Contact Metamorphic PR.