We're all consuming content in very different ways than we did just a few years ago, and with this change has come a change in the style of how we communicate and how we expect to be communicated with. These changes are behind the rise in content marketing. We all know we need to be marketing our services and products in this new way, but how exactly does a company create a B2B content marketing strategy that will elevate their brand, grab readers' attention and result in conversions? (Because conversion is always the goal, right?)
Here are 4 ways to craft a B2B content marketing strategy that captivates your audience:
1. Create Customer Personas
First off, you have to research and develop customer personas. They're crucial to a content marketing strategy and if you haven't created them for your business yet - now's the time. If you're under the impression that you already know everything about your customers, keep in mind that there's a difference between understanding a demographic and a persona.
Demographic: Corporate executives, 30-50 years old, earning $120,000-$150,000 per year, managing 10-30 people.
Customer persona: Jim is a 42-year-old VP of Marketing at XYZ Telecommunications, where he makes $147,000 a year and manages a team of 24 marketing directors and managers. His team works hard to promote the brand, putting in long hours at a company that is known for rewarding selfless devotion. Jim has a beautiful corner office, but he hates that he feels pressured to push himself and his team to work long hours - even nights and weekends - to hit the company's goals. Jim has a wife and three kids at home, and he'd give anything to be able to leave the office at a reasonable hour at least a few days a week, so he could catch his kids' sporting events. He drives his beloved vintage Porsche convertible - which he restored himself, as a younger man - from upstate New York into the city every day, wishing the whole time he and his wife could get away for a weekend trip and enjoy a long drive with the top down.
See the difference? To have a deeper understanding of the real motivations and desires of the actual people you want to reach you have to move past thinking about them as numbers or leads. In the example above, taking the time to develop a thorough customer persona will help the marketer charged with selling a product to Jim move past tactics that focus on Jim's goal to do good work and get a bonus at the end of the year, to a focus that keeps an eye and strategy on what really makes Jim tick. The latter approach is the best way to connect with Jim and create the opportunity to convert him into a paying customer.
Look at these personas as a fun exercise, and use them to understand the nuances of your customers' lives and workdays. Think about your goals and how your customers' personalities and aspirations relate to those goals - the intersection is where you'll discover the win-win point. If you feel lost about who your customers are - set up times to talk with your clients directly. Let them tell you who they are. If that's not possible, talk to your sales team.
2. Speak to Your Market
Speaking of sales, there's a sales rule that works very well in the B2B content marketing world. They say that if you're going into a room full of bankers, you should wear a suit and tie, and use formal, professional language. If you're going into a roomful of athletics coaches, you're better off wearing something sporty and comfortable - and they probably won't look at you too strangely if you get excited and jump around. Basically, this rule says that once you know your audience you should make an effort to meet them on their turf. Speak to them in the words they use every day.
Listen to your buyer, master the tone, vocabulary and attitude they themselves find comfortable, and you'll come to feel like an old, trusted friend.
3. Provide Value
The single biggest rule of B2B content marketing is to help your audience - once you've figured out their needs, give them information that is genuinely useful. Don't worry about trying to sell to them - in fact, don't sell them at all! - your goal at this stage is not to push a sale. Nobody enjoys that and it's uncomfortable and unnatural for everyone involved. Your job as marketer is to dazzle people with your great ideas, helpful attitude and integrity, so that they come to think of you as a go-to expert in your industry or field. Once you've achieved this bond, you will be top-of-mind when they actually need what you have to sell.
There are dozens of ways you can provide value through high-quality content, and you'll have to figure out what your audience wants in order to provide them with pieces that fill their needs. But, here are some ideas to get you started:
- Industry trend pieces
- The latest industry research and statistics
- Technology comparisons
- Reviews or information about industry conferences
- Articles that help them solve common on-the-job problems
- Entertaining, interesting educational articles
- Peer-to-peer career advice
- Templates for documents they might use regularly
4. Publicize Your Expertise
Blogging or article marketing is a critical part of a solid B2B content marketing strategy, and so is promoting that work on social media. Here are a few ways to help spread the reach of the content you create:
- Post your articles on your LinkedIn page, and then share them with the groups you're subscribed to. (If you're not currently in any groups - join some that are relevant to your market!)
- Pursue publication in prominent industry magazines by offering your content for syndication on more well-known outlets - this lends additional validity to your words and elevates your brand to expert level.
- Use social media to announce public speaking engagements, industry awards, etc. Once again, this increases the chances of your content being found and shows that your brand is active in your space.
Have any other ideas or suggestions that we missed? Let us know! Tweet @saltedstone