Create a Smarter B2B Content Marketing Strategy in 2016 with These 7 Expert Insights
November 9, 2015
How will you achieve your content marketing goals in 2016?
In a highly competitive, information-saturated environment, succeeding in the years ahead will require a foundational strategy that enables progress, coupled with a creative strategy to stand out and inspire action.
To help B2B marketers build a rock-solid foundation, we recently outlined five B2B content marketing activities that are commonplace among the most effective teams.
To help you craft a strategy that allows your organization to stand out and inspire action, here are seven expert insights that can also help you create a smarter B2B content marketing strategy in 2016.
Have actual conversations with your customers.
How do you ensure customers and potential customers will like your content? Brain Traffic’s Kristina Halvorson says the best way to do just that is by talking to them directly.
“Talk to them. Don’t run a poll. Don’t do ‘social listening,’” Kristina says. “Because then you’re only going to hear the super unhappy or the super happy people, not the people who don’t really care, whose attention we’re trying to get. Go out and just talk to them. I think the number one reason we don’t talk to our customers is we’re really afraid of what they’re going to say. The number one thing they might say is ‘I don’t care.’ But that’s exactly what we need to
"Unfortunately, most marketing organizations have become nothing other than on-demand content vending machines for other parts of the business," says Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer at Content Marketing Institute. "This argues for a stronger and more structured content marketing function to exist, in order to create more efficient and effective results."
While Rose urges a reduction in content and an optimized technology stack for greater efficiency, it’s ultimately “about creating higher impact content marketing,” he says.
“It’s a question of who should own content as a function, who is the right keeper of that function,” says Robert. “Making a decision – and not avoiding doing so – is the right answer.”
B2B content marketers must face the truth: It is hard to admit, but your customer is just not that into your product or service. Indeed, the biggest mistake in content marketing is making the content about you, says Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy at NewsCred.
“I’ve said this more times than I can count,” Michael says. “In fact, I’m not even sure promotional content qualifies as content marketing. But according to a recent study of 500 global marketers from the Economist Group, B2B content marketing programs are doing just that: making every effort to push and promote product pitches in their content efforts.”
According to the study, the majority of B2B customers are annoyed by pitches, with 71 percent of B2B executives reporting that content they didn’t like seemed more like a sales pitch than valuable information.
Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi advises B2B marketers to home in on one channel to boost their content efforts.
“In almost all cases, these successful content marketing-driven companies put all their energy into one channel,” he says. “It was just a blog, just a series of videos, or just a podcast. Then, after many months and years of success, they began to diversify the content offerings. There’s something about building a loyal audience on one channel before giving them additional options.”
Joe suggests analyzing your content programs objectively and killing what isn’t working. “At the same time, reinvest and refocus your efforts on what you believe can make the most impact on your customers,” he adds.
B2B marketers are slowly getting used to the idea that people make purchasing decisions, not companies. Creating relevant content that inspires feelings of fear, joy, surprise, or sadness can make your message more likely to resonate with your audience, says Forrester Research analyst Laura Ramos.
“We all love a good laugh or cry, so embrace those twin muses of comedy and tragedy,” Laura says. “You attract an audience, and out-compete other marketers, when your content offers something buyers can relate to at a very human level: humor, an eye-opening statistic, a
cause for concern, or a personal struggle.”
MarketingProf’s Chief Content Officer Ann Handley for years has advised B2B marketers to hire a journalist to tell their stories—and 2016 is the year to do it if you have not already. Good journalism strives for authenticity and objectivity, which is paramount when it comes to reaching customers who crave more than a sales pitch. Journalists have plenty of practice weaving compelling, unbiased narratives from multiple sources.
“Having a nose for a story and making it more broadly relevant is something journalists are trained to do,” says Ann, adding, “Heads up to all businesses: Content moments are everywhere. You just have to know to look for them.”
The best way to find and influence fans of your brand is to be passionate about the content you’re creating. At the 2015 Content Marketing World conference, Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert, explained why great content is the key to forging strong connections. “Content is the emotional and informational bridge between commerce and consumer,” says Jay.
While he cautioned attendees to expect copycat competitors to increase as content marketing becomes more commonplace, Jay maintained that passion and caring is what will ultimately set you apart from the competition.