Declare Your Independence from Content Marketing Mediocrity

July 4, 2015

declare your independence

All content marketers hope the content they create will spark a reaction from their audience. Even in the B2B space, where the focus is on informative writing about business topics, it’s important to give your audience a reason to care about your content.

As Valeria Maltoni says, “Your writing doesn’t have to be boring just because it’s for other businesses. Businesses have people who read stuff.” When put this way, it seems like an obvious point.

But a 2015 Content Marketing Institute survey found that 54% of B2B marketers struggle to produce engaging content. It’s not hard to see why: B2B marketers can feel trapped by the idea that being professional means being serious, or even dull.

Well, B2B marketers, in the words of President Bill Pullman , “Today will be our Independence Day.” Since it's the Fourth of July, we’re officially giving you permission to throw off the chains of boring content and make your B2B content marketing efforts shine. Dazzle, even. Here’s how:

Lead with value

In the B2B space, your customers are busy professionals. When you ask them to invest their limited time in your content, be sure to reward their attention early on. Lead with a relevant fact or statistic, followed by a succinct explanation of how they will benefit from the content that follows. Metaphor-laden introductions with childhood anecdotes can be effective in some contexts, but keep them brief and let the value you’re providing sell the piece right away.

Go into detail, but do it quickly

There’s a delicate balancing act to creating effective B2B content. You want to provide as much specific and relevant info as possible, while staying succinct and to-the-point. To stay on the tightrope, start from an outline that details the points you want to make. After your first draft, edit with brutal and merciless efficiency. Get rid of weasel words and flowery prose. This won’t stop you from engaging an audience on a human level. Take a cue from Ernest Hemingway.

Tell a human story

Remember the story about two corporations that fell in love, but their parent conglomerates didn’t approve of the relationship, so the two corporations dissolved their assets to avoid giving up their forbidden love? Neither does anyone else. Human stories, not corporate narratives, are more likely to engage a human audience. There’s a world of difference between, “our company sells a product that increases efficiency by 10%,” and “Here’s what Bob does with 10% more free time.”

Serialize the story for continued engagement

“Always leave them wanting more.” It’s a show business proverb attributed to everyone from P.T. Barnum to Walt Disney, but regardless of who said it, it’s a good rule to follow for content marketing. The following tactics can help you build anticipation for your content:

  • Adding chapters in long-form content to build tension and control pacing
  • Breaking long-form content into smaller posts and releasing them on a regular schedule
  • Using a series format (like our hybrid marketer series)
  • Creating a piece of big rock content and serializing supporting content

Make your content sharable

When content is compelling and provides value, people are more likely to share it. You can also simplifying the act of sharing by doing the following:

  • Adding one-click social media sharing buttons
  • Optimizing your content for mobile so people can like and share on-the-go
  • Adding tweetable quotes and stats that link back to your content

B2B marketers, it’s time to make your content just as engaging and entertaining as that of your B2C colleagues. Why should they get to have all the fun? Celebrate your freedom to make enlightening and informative content without losing the personality and humanity that makes for a compelling read.

Just remember to start with value, be brief but thorough, tell human-centric stories, serialize to build anticipation, and make it easy for your audience to share your content with their networks. With these tips in mind, you can make your next content marketing effort dazzle like a Fourth of July sky.

Create content that leaves your industry in a state of awe by checking out Creating Your First Big Rock: A Step by Step Guide to Creating Marquee Content.