Content marketing is the foundation of a robust marketing program.
Buyers in both B2B and B2C segments have one question in mind: “What is in it for me?” The approach to answering this question is different in each situation.
In this blog, I will share a framework that will help you structure how you approach content marketing for B2B businesses.
Acknowledge the limitations that come with long sales cycles
B2B buying processes are usually longer, involving multiple stakeholders from different functions, and sign-offs. Your sales cycle might be shorter if your product or service ACV is no more than $3000 – 4000 (a ballpark figure).
B2C content marketing can circumvent this and exclusively focus on creating content with strong emotional triggers. B2C purchase decisions involve one person or a few people, who can buy impulsively. This means you can trigger a desire and close a sale using a single piece of content.
Movement through the B2B sales funnel is often slow. Your intent must be to build awareness, create trust, and communicate your ability to solve a problem for them.
But, B2B marketing can take a leaf out of B2C marketing playbooks. Identify the most powerful emotions that are involved in using or buying your product or service. Maybe it is frustration? Greed? Self-preservation? In-group, out-group dynamics? Use appropriate language to appeal to these in some of your content. Constantly ask “why” or “so what” till you drill down to what really matters to your audience.
The B2B Content Marketing Funnel is a handy guide
To reiterate, in B2B content marketing, your focus is not to “close” your prospects with a single piece of content. The Hail Mary approach is not for B2B marketing.
I like to use the simplified version of the B2B marketing funnel when I think about B2B content marketing:
Use this funnel as a broad framework. The broad goals for each stage are at the right hand side. Keep this with you when you create your content plan.
For me, the funnel serves another purpose. I use it as a (rough) guide to plan my content for each stage. Often, B2B content marketers end up with content that works for one stage, while there is not much to cater to the rest of the funnel.
In effect, you need the most content (and channels) for building awareness, while you need only ~30% of the content for the conversion stage.
Decision-making is deliberate
B2B decision makers are concerned about ROI—the value they would gain from buying your solution. This means your content must clearly articulate your Unique Value Propositions.
So, B2B marketing must assume a logic-driven decision making process (B2C businesses can get away with appealing solely to emotion).
Ensure your content engages readers logically by demonstrating that you understand their needs and articulating how you can solve them.
Tip: Focus the awareness content on education, trends, innovation.
As a best practice, use plenty of statistical data into your content. It may not persuade the reader, but it can help the reader build a business case for your product or service within their organization. Why make them do their own research? Offer it on a platter.
How can you do it?
Take a look at this interesting case study from Slack – note the various metrics sprinkled through the page.
Provide compelling testimonials and endorsements from existing clients that justify your claim and enhance trust.
Always let them know the next steps
All your content should progressively help your brand expand meaningful engagement with the prospect. Nevertheless, don’t leave your readers without direction after reading your piece.
Always include a soft or hard call-to-action (CTA). Direct them to other resources, subscribe to your page, ask for a demo, or sign up for a free trial.
Needless to say, there is a lot more to content marketing when you go beyond planning. Remember that your content marketing is only as good as your content. You need good content to get and keep people scrolling.
I have found copyblogger a good resource for content and copy. It is not exclusively meant for B2B marketing, but it is worth your time.
If you are B2B marketer, this content marketing framework is sufficient to help you build a functional content marketing strategy. If you have a question or have suggestions, leave it as a comment or get in touch with me.