Business to Business (B2B) content marketing is the provision of relevant and useful insights prepared by your business that become valued resources by other business decision makers you may wish to work with or influence, so that they refer or do business with your organisation.
By creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted business audience you can achieve a variety of commercial goals including:
- generating leads
- encouraging referrals
- growing brand awareness
- establishing your authority in an industry
- reducing risk for buyers in the decision making process
- building communities
Content marketing can be delivered in a variety of forms, with examples including:
- Blog articles
- White papers
- Case Studies
- Instructional videos
How does Content Marketing Work?
Having an online presence, which can include a website, LinkedIn Company Page, LinkedIn Profiles for the leaders of your business and social media business pages, enables potential clients to research your services and decide if you and your team are for them.
By following a strategic content framework, you then create, source, curate and share relevant and value adding insights, tips, case studies, articles and other resources that serve your business community. The focus is on building a library of B2B content that is consistent with the organisation’s branding and cultural values and provides genuine value to potential clients and referrers.
It is a slow burn, but has a tipping point and is extremely effective in helping your potential clients assess if your organisation is ‘for them’. It also helps strengthen your organisation’s position as the authority or subject matter expert for your industry or service offering.
But how does a business leverage this content and their expertise in a way that attracts new clients?
How to Get Started with B2B Content Marketing
Any good plan needs to start with a strategy. You need to do the work and the thinking around how to embed content marketing principles into your business so that you can effectively amplify your organisation’s sales and marketing plans. We see two common scenarios with our B2B clients:
- They think they should have a stronger online presence and start with LinkedIn as it’s where they’ve heard most B2B leaders play (which is true).
- They’ve just updated their website and want to drive more traffic to their enquiry form and increase awareness of their brand and service offerings.
In both cases, it’s essential that a strategic content framework is developed that considers the following factors:
1. Understand Your Ideal clients
You may have one, two or three ideal client communities who you wish to do more business with. The process of better defining these audiences from a number of perspectives enables you to develop a content plan that is targeted and relevant to the business leaders or communities you are trying to influence online.
Consideration should be given to:
- Demographics: Industry, company size, location – and an individual level – job title, seniority, skills.
- Pain Points: What are the biggest challenges faced by the decision makers for the business they represent? How can you be most helpful to them?
- Daily Habits: How do these companies and their buyers go about researching online? How do they use LinkedIn? Are they readers or do they prefer video content? Or perhaps a mix of both. Which social media channels do they look to for information? Which search terms and keywords do they use that are perhaps unique to their industry? Which sources and influencers do they trust?
2. Develop Your Content Pillars
With a better understanding of your ideal client types it’s time to consider the type of content that can add the most value to them, as it relates to your service offerings.
For instance at Think Bespoke, we have three ideal client groups, with LinkedIn being the common denominator for each group. For our B2B clients they are interested in best practice content marketing and so we regularly commentate on and share relevant content from Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner and the Orbit Media blog.
You can have 3-6 content pillars and they will be unique to your ideal clients and the services you offer.
3. Understand the Competitive Landscape
There’s value in researching who’s also competing for your ideal client’s attention, and to assess how well they’re presenting themselves online. This step can help you explain your strengths and unique selling proposition relative to this competitive set. The purpose of doing this research is to ultimately make the decision making process easier for the client, by helping them choose your organisation over your competitors, provided you can clearly communicate what is unique about your services and approach.
This can mean being able to explain some of your unique processes, the reasons why you have a certain philosophy, the results you’ve achieved for your clients and what you believe is effective for your industry.
You then overlay this information with the needs of your ideal clients, with consideration of their pain points and how your business can help.
By way of example, at Think Bespoke, we are LinkedIn specialists who believe in the power of good manners and building relationships. We teach best practice principles for content marketing and show clients how to attract, acquire and engage their business community online. We understand our clients are sometimes wary of social media, protective of their privacy and value working at a more methodical pace to help navigate LinkedIn for their commercial goals.
4. Review Platforms & Decide Content Type & Mix
The knowledge you’ve developed about your ideal client groups should inform the online platforms you prioritise for your business, and are likely to include:
- Blog, Services, About Us pages and opt-ins / downloads on your website
- LinkedIn Company Page
- LinkedIn Profiles
- YouTube channel
- Guest writing or speaking for relevant industry peak bodies and strategic partners who also serve your business community
Your website is one of the key online assets you own and an essential touchpoint that houses most of the library of valuable content you can share on LinkedIn and social media.
The content from your website can include a mix of blog articles, downloads, tip sheets and instructional videos. It’s also where you showcase your team and provide details of your services and unique approach. If you have an electronic direct mail (EDM) or email newsletter, this is also where you can provide an incentive for people to sign up to your list, such as value adding opt-ins (e.g. tips sheets or checklists as downloads).
This type of content falls into what we call the ‘owned’ category and forms part of what we recommend as a mix of content that can be shared on LinkedIn and social media to drive traffic to your website.
LinkedIn is a critical touch point for your B2B focus, because a large percentage of businesses are on LinkedIn and it has a high penetration of educated business decision makers. It’s essential that the information about your organisation on LinkedIn, via your LinkedIn Company Page and your team’s LinkedIn profiles (if they’re happy for you to brand their background imagery), is consistent with the branding of your website and helps potential clients and referrers evaluate and make decisions about your brand and your business.
The decision by potential clients to contact your business and your team via LinkedIn will be influenced by the quality of content you provide, the value it offers and how well it resonates with them.
You should also consider the role of sharing sourced content on LinkedIn and the social media platforms that are relevant to your ideal client groups. Sourced content is content that is curated by you but created by reputable, non-competing, sources to help demonstrate you know the market you play in and understand the pain points or problems faced by your target audience or ideal clients.
Curated content is recommended as being at least 50% of your content mix, which means you need to have a list of reliable content sources that produce regular and relevant content related to your content pillars.
5. Create Your Content Calendar
All content marketing commentators agree on one thing – consistency is the key to success. A content calendar is an essential tool to help you implement your plan and maintain the frequency with which you share content. This Sprout Social article provides the best times to post on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and includes industry specific posting times for some of these social media platforms for the non profit, education and tech sectors. This is a great starting point if you wish to make decisions about posting frequency for the platforms that are relevant for your ideal clients.
We recommend you start with an annual content planner to capture the key activities and events that happen throughout the year. These may be company-based activities as well as events and occasions that are relevant to your ideal client groups.
We then recommend you consider a monthly content planner that considers the seasonal aspects captured in the annual planner and lists the platforms you are going to share content on (e.g. website blog, LinkedIn Company Page update, LinkedIn Profile articles, YouTube channel) and the frequency and mix of content across the month.
Some of our clients also like to develop a weekly content planner, listing the posting times and content types for each platform. This is as excellent tool once you’ve been posting content for some time and understand what’s working for each platform.
6. Measuring ROI – Testing and Measuring
The results you achieve with your B2B content marketing can be measured in many ways including:
- Website traffic and website conversion goals achieved e.g. contact forms filled in, new subscribers to email list and website downloads (tracked via Google analytics)
- Post, profile and video views (tracked by each platform’s analytics)
- Engagement (measured by click throughs, likes and comments)
- Conversations started (tracked by website enquiries, LinkedIn connection requests, comments you respond to and social media messaging)
- Followers to LinkedIn company page and social media accounts (please note these are vanity measures which we believe are important, but not the priority)
It is essential that you regularly review the performance of your content marketing with some of the measures suggested above. Information is power and too many organisations overlook this step, missing an invaluable opportunity to continually improve the type, mix and quality of the content you share via your website, LinkedIn and social media channels.
Are You Ready to Embrace B2B Content Marketing in Your Business?
Content marketing can sometimes feel like the longer road. Nothing worth having is easy to get and we believe a strategic content marketing framework enables you to make the shift from thinking about ‘what are we going to post online’ to taking a more strategic and powerful approach that considers ‘how do we attract, acquire and engage our ideal clients online’.
By taking the time to develop a B2B content marketing plan you are ensuring your organisation is providing consistent and value adding content that will help potential clients choose your services over your competitors.
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