Too many brands get hung up on their audience type: B2B, P2P, B2C, etc. Every brand helps a single person resolve a specific problem by providing a relevant solution. Content marketing, regardless of whether it’s B2B Content Marketing, is how you help them walk through their decision-making process.
Is your B2B content marketing committing the cardinal sin of copywriting?
No, not misplacing commas or improperly using ellipses… The cardinal sin of marketing copywriting is talking about the brand more than the customer. (Here’s a hint: If your content says “We” and “our” and “us” more than it says “you”, then your copy is guilty.)
So if there’s a cardinal sin, there must be a Golden Rule, right? There is: Relevance Uber Alles.
Content marketing for B2B brands is how you can step out of the trap of reiterating features and benefits on every blog post and press release, and start focusing on specific decisions that the buyer needs to make before the final decision to make a purchase.
Let’s take a look at how to walk the line between talking about your brand and staying relevant to your buyer’s decision-making psychology in B2B content marketing:
1. Plan B2B Content Marketing for Buyers at Different Stages
Let’s talk about why you’re writing all this B2B content marketing in the first place: To help someone choose to buy from you.
Chances are you have some buyer personas… tucked away in a Dropbox folder, in another Dropbox folder, somewhere.
To move your B2B content marketing forward, let’s dust off those personas and start mapping out the steps that they go through on their way from “I have a problem” to “I love this brand.” Those are stages of a buyer’s journey.
These stages will be marked by specific behavior patterns—problems they are trying to solve, and the things they are doing to solve those problems. You then create B2B content marketing collateral to help them from one stage to the next.
One key part of making sure your B2B content marketing is actually working is to map out—in writing—the actions they want to take at each stage. That way you can measure how well one piece of content is helping a specific persona/audience move from one stage to the next.
2. Give Buyers the CTAs They Actually Want to Take
So now that you have identified the micro-problems to solve, and you’re creating content to that end, you need CTAs. Not everyone will follow the action, but those that are ready are willing.
You’ve probably picked up that “buy now” is usually not a successful CTA for most B2B content marketing—especially for someone in the early stages. Unfortunately, “set up a call” too early will also likely go ignored. On the other hand, “Download our comparison chart of competitors” would be great early on… and disastrous right after someone signs the contract.
In other words, relevance in CTAs is at least as important as relevance in the content itself.
With specific CTAs identified for each stage, you now have the ability to track micro progression of leads. You can see where they are stalling in the pipeline, which pieces of content are actually leading to revenue-bearing actions, and how you can improve your nurture apparatus to keep more people moving down the sales funnel! After all, you paid for those leads… it’d be a shame to lose them.
3. Create Content Based on Need, Not Quantity
When you audit your content, it may feel lopsided—why does one stage have more content than another?
Two reasons: You need to sunset old content (let go of the past…it’s OK…), and/or that’s exactly what your target audience needs. Some stages take longer, or require more information. Roll with it. You only have “too much” content when you have content that goes unused.
4. B2B Content Marketing Needs to Be Used…REALLY Used
Your content has more life than to live and die on the blog thread.
After someone fills out a form or clicks a CTA that indicates the next stage, send an autoresponder email with content geared for the next stage they’re about to face.
When your sales team sends an email, do they have a list of content specific to the lead’s buying stage that they can recommend in their emails?
Are your videos on YouTube, Rumble, or Vimeo where other people can easily access them?
You can come up with content ideas all day long. But the part that is often most overlooked is what to do with it after you create it.
5. Does Your Audience Like Video? (Yes.) Don’t Lean on Just the Written Word
Video = Budget = Scary, right? Nope.
The world has become accustomed to desktop camera videos, shockingly fast. You can record video responses shockingly quickly, and distribute them immediately. In our at-home office work world, a touch of semi-personal interaction can go a long way.
How do you put it into practice? Write scripts that your sales team, customer service reps, and anyone else with direct access to external customs can record at their computer and send.
The most important part of explainer videos is the explanation, not the quality of the animation. Do what you can with the budget you have. Chances are, your audience would rather see a video with quick animation done cheaply than read another press release.
6. Did They Learn about Themselves, or about You?
B2B content marketing is primarily and above all about teaching, not selling.
Remember that cardinal sin? This isn’t about your product. It’s about the problem they are trying to solve. You become relevant to them by being able to clearly articulate their thought processes. Once they know you understand, they trust you.
They Are the Hero. You Are the Guide.
B2B buyers don’t consider your brand to be the hero of the story. If your brand is the hero, that makes them the village in distress. That is how many brands perceive their role, but that isn’t how the buyer sees it. They are the hero. They just need a guide. They are Frodo. You are Gandalf. Approach your B2B content marketing as if you are guiding the hero to victory. Because in the end, you aren’t saving them…they’re saving you by buying from you.