B2B marketing has gone through dramatic change in the last few years due to the changing landscape of interaction between how consumers and businesses engage with content. B2B marketing is not the same as B2C marketing. So the approach to influencing prospects and customers needs to be radically different. B2B purchases are not “impulse buys”. B2B prospects carry out more research, ask more questions, and examine more competitior products. B2B purchases involve many individuals (with very different perspectives) who are all involved in influencing the final decision-making. One of the most important jobs for B2B marketer’s is to inform and educate prospects and customers about their offering.
B2B marketing really is interesting when you look past the company and realize that you are communicating with actual people. It is amazing how often this fact is forgotten. How do you educate and inform these people if you are a B2B marketer? We asked B2B marketing experts “If you could give our readers one tip on how B2B marketers should do content marketing, what would that be?”
Recommended Resources from B2B Marketing Experts
Map Content to Buying Stages
Ardath Albee’s Bio
Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist. Her company Marketing Interactions helps companies with complex sales and quantify marketing effectiveness by using interactive e-marketing strategies driven by compelling content. She empowers her clients to create customer-centric nurturing programs that leverage strategic story development to engage prospects until they are sales ready. Ardath’s book, E-Marketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, will be published this fall by McGraw-Hill.
Ardath Albee’s Tip
Map Content to Buying Stages
B2B marketing is often related to a complex sale over the course of a sales cycle that’s 6 months or longer. That means marketers need to create nurturing programs with increasingly relevant content over the long haul. What marketers sometimes fail to realize is that the information a buyer needs at the beginning of their buying process differs greatly from what’s important to them in the later stages. In the beginning the buyer needs to be educated about the nature of the problem, best practices for solving it and how other companies like theirs are successfully doing so. As buyers become educated, their informational needs evolve. Marketing content must keep step to intensify engagement across the entire buying process.
One way to get started is to pick a problem your offering solves, put yourself in the buyers’ shoes and uncover the questions they have when they begin to think about how to solve the problem. Design your content to answer the questions. Each time you answer a question, given what the buyer now knows, what’s the next question or set of questions that arise? Rinse and repeat across the course of the buying journey.
Remember that B2B buying committees are growing in size. Don’t forget about influencers and recommenders. Each stakeholder in a project will have a different perspective and need related to solving the problem. For best results think about pass-along conversational value when developing your content. One of the best outcomes from B2B content marketing is enabling dialogue among and between buying committee members based on education you’ve provided. By becoming a valued and trusted resource, buyers are already relying on your company which makes purchasing from you a natural outcome.
Ardath Albee Recommends
- Enquiro – Great research, white papers and B2B Experts Webinar Series
- Laura Ramos’ Blog B2B Marketing POST
- B2B Magazine Online
- Rohit Bhargava’s book Personality Not Included
- Brian Carroll’s book Lead Generation for the Complex Sale
For every claim you make in your content, ask yourself “So What?”
Rebel Brown’s Bio
Rebel Brown is go-to-market strategist and Spin Doctor specializing in start ups, turnarounds and start-arounds in the high technology arena. She has helped to define, position and launch over 75 individual products and companies since she began consulting 20 years ago. Her clients who are technology vendors and venture firms leverage her strategic marketing and go-to-market expertise. She identifies and transforms differentiation – customers crown jewels – into compelling, customer-centric value that sells. Her blog is Phoenix Rising and her business is PeopleWhoKnow.
Rebel Brown’s Tip
Ask yourself “So What?”. Too often marketing content is based on what we think about the advantage our solutions bring. Customers don’t think the same way as we do – they don’t have the same frame of reference or the same priorities. For every claim you make in your content, ask yourself “So What?” .And keep asking until you have a concise, compelling content statement that reflects what matters to your audience. Then go build the rest of your content from that starting point.
A few questions to help you expand on “So What?” include:
- What does this mean to my customer’s business?
- What can they do they couldn’t do before?
- What can they do better than ever before?
- What problem or pain am I eliminating from their plate?
Once you get to the real “So What?” benefit statements, your content will hit your audience right between their business eyes. That’s the first step to creating powerful customer conversations that lead to trusted relationships. And isn’t that what all of this is about?
Rebel Brown Recommends
- Ardath Albee’s Blog Marketing Interactions
- Modern B2B Marketing Blog
- Chip Heath and David Heath’s Book Made to Stick
Differentiate your content
Bob Gilbreath’s Bio
Bob Gilbreath is Chief Marketing Strategist at Bridge Worldwide, one of the nation’s largest digital advertising agencies and part of WPP. Bob leads the Strategic Planning team within the agency, advising clients such as Procter & Gamble, ConAgra Foods, Kroger, Luxottica, and Abbott. His writing has been featured in Brandweek, he has spoken at Ad:Tech and Harvard Business School, and taught classes at NYU and Miami University. He is the author of The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect with your Customers by Marketing with Meaning, which will be released by McGraw-Hill in September 2009.
Bob Gilbreath’s Tip
Make sure that your content is differentiated and matching how your company is differentiated from the competition. Chances are there are already content sources out there that your customers are reading or watching, and it’s hard to stand out with me-too information. Audit their current information sources and look for openings that closely match what your firm believes makes it superior.
Bob Gilbreath Recommends
- Seth Godin’s Blog – daily reminders of how to best run a business of any kind
- Jon Steel’s book The Perfect Pitch – book by that focuses on advertising agency pitching, but has lessons for everyone
- Solomon Robert’s book The Art of Client Service – the bible of customer service, again an advertising agency view but universal lessons
Educate, entertain, and engage with readers
Patsi Krakoff’s Bio
Patsi Krakoff, Psy. D., is a former psychologist and journalist who has been working in online content marketing for the last 10 years helping professionals use e-newsletters and blogs to grow business. Her award-winning blog can be found at WritingontheWeb. She provides quality content and newsletter services for global executive coaches at ContentforCoachesandConsultants. She is co-founder of The Blog Squad, providing blog services and consulting. She lived and worked in Paris for 20 years and now lives in Ajijic, Mexico, where she is an avid tennis player.
Patsi Krakoff’s Tip
I hear so much being blogged and tweeted about Content Marketing these days, it’s like the Buzz-du-Jour. I’m sure it means different things to different people, depending on the size of your company and the type of products or services you’re trying to market.
Forget “How to do content marketing?.” Just remember one key thing: Be real. That means that you have to talk to readers and customers like real human beings do. In a way, it should be called “personality” or “relationship” marketing. You don’t have to sell anything. Instead educate, entertain, and engage with readers. Tell them how to solve their problems. Tell them stories. Show them who you are. Be real, be you.
Patsi Krakoff Recommends
- Joe Pulizzi’s and Newt Barrett’s book Get Content. Get Customers.
- Jon Wuebben’s book Content Rich
- Top42 Content Marketing Blogs
- Alltop Content Marketing Blogs
Know your Customer
Seamus Walsh’s Bio
Seamus Walsh founded VAZT Global Inc. in January 2008. Seamus’ passion for sales, sales process and excellence enabled him to develop a platform that “finds, cares and feeds” prospects until they are ready to buy. Prior to forming VAZT, Seamus worked in sales and strategic account management for The Hackett Group, a strategic advisory and management consulting firm in Atlanta, For Gartner, a research, advisory and consulting company in Stamford, CT and Cambridge Technology Partners, a web development company, prior to its acquisition by Novell. Seamus resides in Essex Junction, VT with his wife and four children.
Seamus Walsh’s Tip
Know your customer. Today having a great looking and content rich site is expected. To differentiate yourself articulate how you can solve client’s business issues by directly speaking to and meeting the needs of a stakeholder. By doing so, you are telling them “I understand your needs and I can meet them.” In this age of information overload, anyone who can provide information that directly addresses the needs of a particular population can gain loyalty by saving the individual time and therefore money.
Seamus Walsh Recommends
- Richard Sheffield’s Book The Web Content Strategist’s Bible
- Jennifer Grappone’s and Gradiva Couzin’s Book Search Engine Optimization-an hour a day
- Seamus Walsh’s ‘Assessment to measure how well your content is aligned to sales’