46 Thought Leaders Share the Single Most Effective Content Marketing Strategy or Tactic for B2B Companies
Content marketing is one of the most widely used marketing methodologies. But as the industry grows and expands, it becomes increasingly difficult not only for companies to understand everything that content marketing entails, but to know what strategies are the most effective and efficient means of reaching their target audience. Content marketing can encompass everything from your website content to your company’s blog, social media posts, and long-form content like case studies, white papers, e-books, and of course, the promotional tactics that enable you to get that content in front of more prospects.
It’s no surprise that many companies, particularly companies in the B2B space, are overwhelmed with the many options. Marketers are also increasingly crunched for time, along with sales people, meaning they need to make every second count. Clearly, spending valuable hours on content marketing activities that won’t generate results isn’t the best use of anyone’s time.
We wanted to find out what strategies and tactics today’s thought leaders in content marketing find most effective for reaching target audiences and getting results. To do so, we reached out to a panel of leading experts in content marketing and asked them to answer the following question:
“What is the single most effective content marketing tactic or strategy for B2B companies and why?”
We’ve collected and compiled their responses into this comprehensive guide for the best, most effective content marketing tactics for B2B companies today.
Meet Our Panel of Top Content Marketing Experts:
Upasna Kakroo is the co-founder of a content marketing and branding startup, brandanew.co. Her previous experiences include Rocket Internet, the Holtzbrinck Group, and McKinsey & Co. She’s devoured urban culture through trains, art, books, and travel on her blogs since 2003.
“The single most effective content marketing tactic or strategy for B2B companies is…”
Creating long form content (e.g. eBooks/Whitepapers) that can be downloaded in exchange for prospects’ contact details. This is helpful for a couple of reasons. First, you target an audience that is both really interested in the field and proactively searching for information, they are willingly sharing their data with you, and they are potentially being influenced by the quality of your content in hopes that eventually they will trust you and buy from you. It’s also the cheapest way to get leads for your email marketing strategy, and can create great support for your sales and business development teams.
Hitesh Sahni is a freelance digital marketer, content developer, trainer, and consultant. Hire him to help you boost traffic, sales and profits online, or sign up for his free weekly email newsletter to learn things like how to get massive traffic, make people share your content, buy your product and more. 100% Free!
“The single most effective thing that separates the 10% of successful content marketers from 90% of the rest is…”
Having an editorial content calendar. It’s just a one-time effort, but it’s the big elephant in the room that most marketers aren’t addressing.
Winging content creation and distribution efforts is not only naive, but dangerous for the bottom line. A content calendar is a core part of an effective digital marketing campaign. Regardless of how hard it’s going to be to create and stick to it, business owners and marketers should suck it up and take the time to do it once.
Ben Cohen is the CEO & Founder of BobCar Media. BobCar Media is an award winning experiential marketing company whose clients consist of Verizon, T-Mobile, and many others. The company utilizes its patented, eco-friendly, interactive, mobile demonstration showrooms to feature client products on the streets and sidewalks of any target market.
“The most important content marketing strategy that all B2B companies must incorporate is…”
1. A blog streamlined into your website. Through a blog, you will be engaging directly with current and possible customers while increasing your website’s visibility through the search engines.
2. At BobCar, we build a case study for every one of our campaigns, and we have found them to be vital when it comes to securing new business. Case studies are an easy and effective way to show potential clients how your company, product, or service has helped solve a problem for another organization. With a case study, you can directly prove past ROI in hopes of landing new business. It is a great content marketing strategy and tactic that is backed up with proven stats and results.
3. Newsletters emailed to your target audience is another great content marketing tactic. By constructing a newsletter that offers up strong and interesting content, you are able to connect on a direct level. It is a great way to stay in touch with past customers and build relationships moving forward.
Swetha started her career as a journalist before moving into a content writer role in the PR industry. Since then, her passion for content marketing has steadily grown, and she has had the opportunity to work with non-profits both as a writer and marketer. She is currently the Manager of Communication & Content at 9Lenses.
“The #1 content strategy for B2B companies is…”
Get your stakeholders involved. Instead of restricting the creation of content to just the marketing team, reach out to colleagues, vendors, customers, advisors, and every type of stakeholder for your business. These stakeholders are not only advocates for your business, but for your industry, too. Involving stakeholders also results in a unique mix of insights and voices that the marketing team might have been able to achieve alone. Finally, while engaging with your stakeholders for your content strategy, think of creative formats for the content, like videos, infographics, microsites, and even podcasts.
Christine Rochelle is the Director of Digital Marketing & Operations at lotus823, a New Jersey-based PR and Digital Marketing Agency. As a national conference speaker, Christine Rochelle has presented on SEO, social media, and content strategies at numerous marketing events throughout the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, she is often invited to present on marketing strategies on related webinar series.
“When it comes to B2B content marketing the single most effective strategy is…”
To market to the people of the business, not the business.
There are some differences in B2B and B2C marketing; however, at the end of the day we’re all looking to tell a story about our brand to develop relationships with our target audience. B2B marketing means being able to tell that story to different people at different levels of the business and having your content resonate with each of them. Digital content has made that possible by allowing us to hone in on each level of the target audience and track, through analytics, the response we’re receiving back from those visitors.
All in all, content marketing has allowed us to see the people behind the businesses once again and target them much more effectively, resulting in stronger relationships and ultimately a stronger conversion.
Anne-Marie leads Tenet’s content marketing strategy practice, overseeing the company’s team of content specialists and digital marketing strategists. Anne-Marie has worked with Fortune 500 companies ever since she arrived at Tenet almost 20 years ago. Those clients include, among others, John Deere and Xerox. With a deep understanding of the value of targeted and actionable content, Anne-Marie’s mission is to help clients identify purchase drivers and triggers for their audiences, adopt content strategy towards a multi-channel execution, and measure results to guide on-going communications.
“When it comes to the content marketing, the number one tactic everyone should invest in is…”
A solid engagement strategy. While this might sound obvious, a quick Google search for content marketing will return 382 million links. A similar search for content marketing strategy will yield 124 million results. Acknowledging that this is by no means statistically scientific, it still points to the possibility that too many people are willing to jump into content marketing without a solid foundation on which to build a marketing and communications plan. An upfront investment will yield significant ROI on precision of execution and client engagement. The strategy will uncover precious insights on the needs and wants of target audiences, their preferred channel of engagement, the types of partners they are looking for. With this information in hand, B2Bs (much like B2Cs) can start respectful and rewarding dialogue, to the benefit of everyone involved. And this, as they say, could be the beginning of a beautiful and loyal relationship.
Gary Brooks is the CMO of Urjanet, the world’s first provider of automated energy data that enables organizations around the world to make smarter, more profitable, and eco-friendly decisions for energy management and sustainability. Gary is a sales focused B2B marketing addict, occasional blogger, innovator, and change agent with an entrepreneurial spirit and a proven track record of delivering breakthrough revenue performance.
“When it comes to content marketing, the most effective strategy is…”
To align your content with the buying process. Content should never be created for content’s sake; it should be created to accomplish very specific objectives and must focus on the buyer rather than your company or product.
Why? Because buyers don’t care about you, your product, or your company. They only care about getting their questions answered and what you or your product can do for them.
The buying process is simply a series of questions prospective buyers need answered. Your answers will enable them to make a series of micro decisions that could lead to a purchase decision. The company that effectively and efficiently answers the buyers’ questions will likely win their business.
This is where buyer-focused content comes in. Designing content to answer your buyers’ specific questions at each phase of their buying process is a winning strategy that will accelerate buying cycles. Once your content is complete, use your marketing automation system to drip the right content to the right buyer at the right time. Lead scoring and trigger events should be used to move prospects from one drip campaign to another as they advance through their buying process.
To develop buyer focused content I propose the following steps:
- Develop detailed buyer personas.
- Understand how your prospective customers buy. This can be accomplished by interviewing your current customers.
- Document the phases of the buying process.
- Understand your buyers’ goals and questions at the various phases of the buying cycle (Aware, Curious, Considering, Buying).
- Build a content map that aligns specific content with key groups of questions.
- Develop content that answers your buyer questions and enables them to accomplish their goals at the various phases of their buying process.
- Use custom drip campaigns to deliver the right content at the right time.
Check out The Life and Time of Utility Bill, which is cool piece of content we recently used at Urjanet to convert a specific buyer persona from unaware to aware. This content enabled our business development team to set a new record for sales meetings schedule in one week.
Brett Bastello is a Content Marketing Specialist with Inseev Interactive, a full service digital marketing company located in sunny San Diego.
“My single most effective tactic when it comes to content marketing is…”
What is sometimes referred to as the skyscraper technique. This utilizes previously successful pieces of content and builds on top of them. You can use a tool such as BuzzSumo or Ahrefs Content Explorer to find successful pieces of outdated viral content within your niche and then work to build upon that foundation or update the content to reflect the current status of the industry. Then, you can contact the outlets that have posted the previously successful piece of content and let them know that you have a new and improved version. Generally, the conversion rate for this tactic is much higher than other industry standards.
Brian is a senior marketing consultant and partner at Inspire Business Concepts with over 10 years’ experience in sales and marketing. With an MBA from Thunderbird International School of Business, Brian has a passion for marketing, storytelling, and statistical analysis.
“When dealing with B2B marketing, the biggest challenge you run into is…”
That the decision maker (the person choosing the solution) is not the same person as the one writing the check. The decision maker may be excited by the product offering but needs to convince the economic buyer that it’s the right choice for them.
One of the best strategies a company can use to facilitate the sales process is to create content to equip the decision maker to sell the economic buyer. These can be white papers, case studies, or documents that explain how decision makers can convince their bosses — the check-writers — that this is the best product.” To be effective, these content pieces need to tightly define the business case, the investment, and the economic and non-tangible benefits that come from the new solution.
For example, if your company is selling a CRM platform, you could create content to equip a sales manager to sell his boss on why your solution is superior. It can talk about clarity of reporting, automation of reports, automatic flagging of events, and integration with revenue data to quickly and easily show overall ROI. It could also talk about how it can be used to motivate the sales reps and keep them on top of their book of clients. Then it would highlight specific client examples where this happened and maybe even include testimonials from someone at the same level as the target audience. If you’re the sales manager pitching the CMO, the testimonials should be from CMOs or other C-level executives to show your CMO how their peers feel about the content.
Prior to joining Red Bamboo Marketing as partner and CMO, Stephen Murphy worked at several award-winning agencies and technology startups. He is the founder of Get Busy Media, ranked a top 100 SMB blog on the web, and has been featured in major media outlets like Fox, Business Insider, and dozens of others.
“When it comes to the most effective B2B content marketing strategies, B2B marketers need to…”
Take a step back and simplify their communications. Many B2B marketing pieces try to do too much; they try to cram in every feature and benefit they can think of into their content. The result? Your audience hits the “snooze” button and ignores your message.
To improve your content marketing, find the core idea you’d like to communicate, reduce your jargon, and write messages that “stick”. Personally, I like to use the “mom test”: If my mother can’t understand the point I’m trying to make, then I’ve failed at communicating it properly.
Sherry is the Marketing Director and Customer Happiness Officer at Iterable, an all-in-one messaging platform that offers email and mobile push support for companies.
“My one piece of content marketing advice for B2B companies is…”
To look for external forums or Q&A communities, such as Quora, where you can look for questions on your industry to answer. Offer expertise on the problem that your company solves. This is a great way to develop thought leadership for your company and to drive traffic to your website. I’ve used this tactic and answered dozens of questions on Quora on email marketing. As a result, Quora has been a great source of leads for Iterable!
Alexander Ruggie is the PR Director for 911 Restoration, a home restoration company that specializes in water damage and disaster recovery solutions. Before this, he worked as a PR Strategist, Copywriter, and Marketer for the world’s largest dinnerware manufacturer, which was exclusively a B2B company.
“The single most effective content marketing strategy for B2B companies is…”
To keep your reps informed. We all go through the day with a million emails to read and a million calls to make, and lots of great information (that might be just what sales needs to make a big deal) gets lots in the cracks. Keeping the reps informed is crucial.
This can come in the form of content in any deliverable. It may also depend on individual reps. Some like to be called on the phone and asked about their day before you tell them about the latest product they can push. Others never want to be called and function solely off of email contact, and thus getting them to open up your E-blast with peripherals is key.
The methods vary by source, company, purpose, and even individual personality types, but at the end of the day it comes down to information. Do the reps have what they need to make a sale? If not, give them what they need in the content form they desire, then repeat.
Marc Prosser is the co-founder and managing partner of Marc Waring Ventures, a firm which develops specialty internet properties for high value audiences. The company’s portfolio of websites includes Fit Small Business, which provides product and service reviews for small business owners. Started in 2013, Fit Small Business serves as the “Consumer Reports” for small business owners.
“A surprisingly effective tactic for businesses involved in B2B content marketing is…”
HARO requests. You can answer inquiries that are exactly related to your expertise, and your responses will appear in the kinds of articles that are already addressing your audience.
You can be selective about what requests you reach out to, and can put in exactly the amount of time you have available each day. They enable you to reach the right audience with the right messaging, and on top of that, you get to be perceived as an expert. For all of these reasons, HARO requests are an excellent tactic for B2B content marketers.
Bill Rice is the CEO & Founder of Kaleidico, a full-service digital marketing agency with over a decade of experience creating, leading, and evolving marketing strategies in a variety of industries. Kaleidico focuses its marketing work on targeting consumer behavior, a passion he first discovered as a pioneer in Information Warfare operations with the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense and various federal intelligence agencies.
“The single most effective content marketing strategy for B2B companies is…”
The B2B buying process is critical to creating the right content marketing strategy. In my experience, there are two defining characteristics of a promising B2B prospect. Exploiting these attributes can make all the difference in generating great B2B leads with your content marketing program.
1. B2B buyers have made a decision already. In my experience, most B2B buyers are pretty much decided on the solution, and maybe even the solution provider, they want. Consequently, what they’re really seeking from you is the justification — a business case — to support their decision.
2. B2B buyers are looking for documentation and business cases. These same B2B buyers are also looking for documentation and support for their company’s internal decision-making process. This information must help them lower their risk of making a bad decision, in front of their boss or committee.
In both cases, they’re looking for slide presentations (preferably more than one) that deliver statistics, case studies, and observable successes using you and your solution. It should be easily accessible and compelling to set on their boss’ desk or in front of the selection committee, with minimal effort on their part.
I love using blog posts, SlideShare, Linkedin, and Twitter (conference #hashtags and priceless) to get these presentations on the radar of this ideal B2B audience.
Dimitris Athanasiadis does online marketing and business development for Megaventory, the inventory and order management app aimed at small and medium businesses. He has been involved with social media to one extent or another since 2000 with many years of significant experience in providing consulting to businesses.
“The most effective tool I’ve found to work for our B2B content marketing efforts is…”
Quora. A large number of trials for megaventory.com, our SaaS SMB ERP software, can be generated with reasonable effort on that platform. The good thing is that — so far at least — content created is content which stays in the spotlight. Your content is constantly enriched by others’ answers which end up giving value to the entire thread, and your contribution as well.
Answers containing adequately generic but also useful content will be seen again and again by new visitors to the thread. Some of these new visitors can be converted to leads back at your own website if your answer stands out and you have your domain listed early in your bio so that it shows.
The hard part is that there is policing against overly promotional content and, consequently, you have to produce value in other ways (answering questions that are irrelevant or semi-relevant to your business). The good part is that all answering is fun and it’s all being done in a usable interface, so it all balances out fine.
Jason Stewart is the Vice President of Strategy for ANNUITAS. Stewart has more than 15 years’ experience in B2B marketing at both private and public companies. Jason has been named one of marketing automation’s key influencers in Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation and was on one of the inaugural nominees for the Content Marketing Institute Awards. He has also won DemandGen Report’s Social Impact Killer Content award in 2013 and a gold medal for content in the 2014 MarCom Awards.
“The most crucial aspect of a content marketing strategy is…”
To make sure your content aligns with your audience (or buyer) and provides critical information at the right time. The first step is to understand what content will resonate with the targeted audience so you can build content around their needs and interests, providing content that will be compelling to them. Businesses that succeed in content marketing know their buyers inside and out. Understanding your buyer’s pain points, where they seek information, how they consume information, and what sources they deem valuable helps to build a solid understanding of what your buyer needs and wants. Armed with that information, organizations can build a highly effective content marketing strategy. Without knowing everything about your buyer, your content doesn’t stand a chance of connecting with them and your efforts are wasted.
“The most effective tactic when it comes to content marketing is…”
To include a lot of influencers in your articles. We’ve published a few posts lately on the NinjaOutreach blog (a B2B digital marketing tool), and they’ve received hundreds of social shares because we’ve included dozens of influencers in the post. For example:
This type of content is evergreen, ranks well in the search engines, and sends hundreds and thousands of visitors because you’re leveraging the influencer’s audience (assuming they share the post, which they often do).
Creative ways to include influencers include resource guides, expert round ups, case studies, and blogger awards.
Working across business divisions and multiple departments as a Solutions Architect, Eric Laune collaborates with Data Analysts at Kinetic Supply Company to develop key Insights that help clients realize their strategic marketing objectives.
“With any marketing initiative, whether it’s content marketing, SEO or PPC, the tactics should…”
Always support each point of the company’s strategic objectives. It sounds simple, but when the executive suite says, “Something needs to happen,” companies tend to move directly to activity mode without thinking of how their tactics support the strategy. When it comes to B2B content marketing specifically, companies MUST define the objectives and then determine the KPIs to measure effectiveness and be able to report on those items. Taking a look at the company’s current ecosystem is the main key. When a company is able to have visibility into the market from a topics point of view, then a roadmap can be created. For instance, let’s say a company decides they want to become a thought leader in their particular space in order to help improve perceived trust and authority for their brand, which in turn should help with their inbound sales efforts. Based on the communities and conversations surrounding core topics, a company can form specific tactics for engaging in the conversation. Typically, social media comes to mind when the topic of engagement is mentioned. While social media should be a supporting tactic, engaging in conversations doesn’t always have to solely revolve around social media when it comes to B2B content marketing. Locating similar interests and topics within other websites or communities and creating an Influencer outreach blueprint takes a little bit of elbow grease and initial legwork, but definitely packs the best bang for your buck when it comes to tactics.
Stan Kimer is the President of Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer. After a 31-year diverse successful career at IBM, he started his own consulting practice in 2010 focusing on the two areas he is most passionate about: diversity and career development.
“As a sole practitioner consultant selling primarily to medium size and large clients, my most effective content marketing tactic is…”
To volunteer to speak for professional organizations on my areas of expertise. At such gathering, I can often hit 30 to 100 decision makers or stakeholders in my area and demonstrate to them firsthand my passion for and knowledge of my consulting areas. In fact, of all the clients I have engaged over the past 4 years, 50 percent of initial contacts have come from people who heard me speak at such gatherings.
David Smith is the co-founder and creative leader of newly formed, full service advertising agency Immortology based in Chapel Hill, N.C. His earlier work, as ECD at Carton Donofrio Partners in Baltimore and as co-founder and CCO of The Republik in Raleigh, has been the subject of dozens of articles, broadcasts, and case studies. Prior to those executive positions, David created award-winning ads for Nikon, Pepsi, Aetna, RCA, and Frito-Lay at legendary New York agencies Ammirati & Puris and BBDO.
“There is only one sure-fire marketing tactic I know of…”
It works every single time, which is not to say it’s easy to execute. It is a great concept.
In a world where 4 million blogs are written daily, and B2B and B2C customers have an endless stream of paid, earned, and owned content that they can choose to connect with or not, your biggest competitive advantage is a great messaging concept. A great concept can improve results by 500 percent or more. By contrast, a poor one, delivered by even the most efficient media buy imaginable, can hurt your business.
How do you recognize a great concept? It will:
- be impossible to ignore;
- meaningfully differentiate you from your competitors;
- crystalize why your product or service is better;
- interest, entertain, or educate potential customers to where they feel compelled to share or act upon it (and make that action easy).
Why aren’t more concepts great? Because most agencies simply don’t have the strategic, creative, and production chops to develop, produce, and place a great concept. And because most companies don’t have the intestinal fortitude to truly differentiate themselves with one. But that’s okay by our clients and us. It just makes their jobs and ours easier — and more profitable.
King Hill was a pioneer of the digital age, leaving the traditional side of marketing communications to found his own digital agency in 1995. Over the next 16 years, his firm represented clients ranging from Visa to Goodyear to teams in the NFL, MLB and the NHL, and was then acquired by Marcus Thomas in 2011. Today, King is a digital strategist helping the agency’s clients use technology to make human connections, online and in-person.
“When it comes to the best content marketing strategy for B2B companies…”
When clients discuss with me how they can use content marketing, they often go directly to, “What tactic or strategy would be the most effective?” They ask whether it’s webinars, infographics, or whitepapers that will move their potential customer down the buyer journey. In most cases, they’re getting too specific as to the content type.
I tell them that the most effective strategy is not a question of content type; it’s a question of knowing your customer inside and out. The efficacy of specific content types will be revealed as your effort unfolds and is measured and optimized.
If their focus is still on content types, I’ll suggest this: that content always be taken to the lowest common denominator, given your audience and the subject/topic being delivered for a particular stage of the buyer journey. Put simply, break your content down into small chunks that each have value, and that each add value to the entire story, and then make sure you deliver those chunks in all the media types that are necessary, whether that’s video, infographics, whitepapers, or haiku.
Vladimir Gendelman is the Founder and CEO of Company Folders, an innovative presentation folder printing company.
“In terms of the single best content marketing strategy for B2B companies…”
The phrase “corporations are people” has gotten a bad reputation, but there’s a grain of truth in it: companies aren’t just emotionless entities; they’re made up of real people and they need to be marketed to in a similar way. When it comes to content marketing for B2B companies, it’s most important to understand and properly target your audience. Do extensive research and learn about the specific people you’re targeting within the business. Is it a senior executive, a marketing specialist, a public relations liaison, or someone else entirely? Make sure that your content marketing is tailored specifically to them. If you discover that you have more than one target audience, you’ll have to either establish a channel for each individual audience or only focus on the most important one. Above all, make sure that your marketing is consistent and updated regularly.
Shahed’s career began in the dot.com era as a reporter for CNET and evolved into more PR and marketing roles timed to the rise of mega-trends like mobile, social, cloud and big data. Shahed has experience in managing corporate and financial communications, global product launches, IPOs and acquisitions. Presently, Shahed is the VP of Analytics & Operations for Merritt Group.
“The most important thing for B2B content marketers to remember is…”
That content never sleeps. Around the clock, and around the globe tons of new content, a lot of which looks or reads the same, is being continuously generated. More than 86 million WordPress sites were built in 2014. Every minute, Facebook users share nearly 2.5 million pieces of content, and YouTube users upload more than 70 hours of video.
There is infinitely more content generated than we can ever hope to individually consume. The most important strategy for B2B content marketers is making creativity and data analytics a priority in the content generation and distribution process, to combat building content machines that churn out more of the sameness.
Standing out means more than creative ideas. It means looking at your content analytics and buyer behavior to perhaps create more video content when competitors are focused on text-based formats. Or, more long-form, educational content, when everyone else is churning out quick-hit posts that lack depth. The future of B2B content marketing is a mix of the best creatives with the best analytics. The rest will continue to fade into background noise.
David Klein is a San Francisco-based marketing executive who focuses on technologies that empower people and businesses. He is currently the director of marketing for ClickTime.
“I can say with great confidence that the single most effective content marketing tactic is…”
Case studies. A proper case study — one that demonstrates clear, quantifiable ROI for a specific vertical or need — can be the difference between a deal that closes and one that does not. Unlike white papers or ebooks, case studies are relatively quick and affordable to produce, and they resonate with potential customers at all levels in an organization, from individual contributor to CEO.
Troy O’Bryan is President and CEO of Response Capture. Troy has over 15 years of experience delivering high return on investment marketing initiatives for his clients. Prior to Response Capture, Troy served as an account lead for direct and database marketing campaigns working with many global clients such as 3M, American Express, EMC, Intel, Microsoft, Océ, Planar, Siemens, and Tektronix. The successes of his client campaigns have been highlighted in DMNews and B2B Magazine. Troy holds a BS in Marketing and Finance from Western Oregon University.
“The most critical content marketing strategy for B2B companies is…”
Aligning content with the buying cycle is crucial for every company. Each stage of the A.C.T. (Awareness, Consideration, Transaction) Model represents a different part of their journey and the content should reflect that.
For example, if a prospect visits the request a demo page on your website, they are already in the Consideration stage. A case study or expert guide would be great content for your follow-up email strategy. By tailoring the content to fit the wants and needs of the buyer, they will be more likely to respond because you are providing something of value.
Chandresh Shah specializes in working with small business owners and blogs at ChandreshShah.com. Technically born in India but considering himself a New York Native, Shah is a jock and an engineer who uses engineering in everything that he does. Previously working for Whirlpool, Shah realized he doesn’t like big companies and moved on to serve as the VP of Sales & Marketing for three small companies, ultimately starting a dot-com, raising $1 million and subsequently losing his shirt and savings. Shah brings more than two decades of experience in working with small companies, including his own company, which has 50 employees.
“The single most effective content marketing strategy or tactic for B2B companies is…”
Target your B2B potential/lead as a HUMAN, and therefore think ‘B2C’ for Content.
What this means is, that you need to start by segmenting your leads and building a demographic as well as a behavioral profile — as the marketing experts say, ‘score your leads’ based on Profiles.
Then, feed content based on their behavior, because B2B buyers also buy on emotion, and give them reason to justify the purchase.
Quincy is in charge of inbound marketing and content over at Uplift ROI, a company focused on crowdsourced website optimization. He will work for strong coffee or IPAs and promises to provoke and inform you over at @upliftroi.
“The most effective content marketing tactic for B2B organizations is…”
Writing content that either features or quotes a number of industry experts. Not only will this content be extremely relevant as it contains information from or about leading influencers, but the people mentioned are quite likely to share it via their social profiles. To take it even further, many experts will have their companies or employers share the post as well, thereby exposing it to yet another interested audience.
Seb Atkinson is a search marketer at Selesti, a multi-award winning creative digital agency. Seb has helped a range of clients grow their online presence, from start-ups and small businesses to large international corporations.
“For B2B companies, the most effective content marketing strategy is…”
Building a long term strategy to become the destination that businesses come to for research.
The key is to start high up in the sales funnel, so it’s a long term strategy;, however, this means you can reach your customer sooner, plus provide extra value. All your competitors sell what you sell, providing customers with extra value (information) — answering their questions and related questions to your product can set you apart.
We believe your brand is no longer what you advertise, its what people say about you online.
That means providing this ‘free’ information allows you to align yourself as your customers ally, improves brand recognition, and builds trust. This is normally an incredibly hard, time-consuming, and expensive process.
Having this content will mean people will start linking to you, and you will be seen as an authority in the marketplace.
SEO is also key in this process. Sensible structuring of this content will also reap natural rewards with good search engine placement, giving you more natural leads.
Eric Zaluski is President at ProspectTrax, Inc., a marketing automation and services company that provides end-to-end services primarily for advanced industrial manufacturers.
“To develop the single most effective content marketing strategy, B2B companies should ask…”
What is the most complicated aspect of buying your products or services? Identify it and then write content for it. Is it understanding what’s available in the marketplace? Is it getting group buy-in? Helping your clients educate constituents within their company? A whitepaper comparing your product to others could speed up the comparison shopping. Explaining your engineered product in simple, non-technical terms could make it easier for your engineer customer to sell the product purchase to others within her company. Content should educate for a purpose.
Emily Elliott is the content and marketing manager at TheSquareFoot, a commercial real estate technology startup that provides online real estate search and brokerage services.
“The single most effective strategy for B2B companies is…”
Using case studies. Case studies establish credibility, provide evidence that your product has been used by a real client that people know, and evidences that your product is effective with data and metrics around its effectiveness. People want to be able to see themselves in how your product is working, and by showing them a case study you are giving them a narrative that they can understand and they can then use to justify using your product or service easily.
Liz O’Donnell is general manager of Double Forte, where she manages the East Coast operations and heads the digital marketing team. With her experience as both a blogger and author, Liz O’Donnell is adept at combining traditional and social media strategies that track to business objectives and drive measurable results and impact.
“The single most effective content marketing tool for B2B companies is…”
The buyer persona, because if you don’t know who your customer is, then how in the world can you connect with them? Too often, we hear B2B marketers dismiss the buyer persona as a consumer-only marketing tool. That’s just not true. B2B decision makers are people, too. They don’t shed their human-ness when they walk into their offices; people make purchasing decisions, not companies. The buyer persona should be at the heart of every B2B content marketing strategy so you can develop materials that inspire, educate, convince, and even entertain the people you are trying to reach.
Bob Bentz is president of 84444.com, a do it yourself SMS Marketing site, and president of ATS Mobile, a mobile first digital agency in Philadelphia with offices in Toronto, London, and Prague. ATS operates the 84444.com (USA) and 84444.ca (Canada) SMS marketing sites.
“When it comes to the best content marketing strategies for B2B companies…”
LinkedIn is a great place to post your content, but I’m starting to see it get a bit crowded. Similar articles that we have written are starting to get less exposure than they did months ago, just because of the volume of posts going up on LinkedIn. I am also starting to see some content being posted like, “We’re Hiring,” which I don’t believe was the intent of LinkedIn when they introduced this feature. If this continues, LinkedIn is going to be less and less valuable to content marketers.
But, the good news is that there are other options. Of course, the best places to promote your content is to vertical market sites that your business serves. You can essentially write the same themed content for multiple vertical markets, but just customize it for that particular vertical. And, I’ve found that the more narrowly focused the site is, the more likely that it will publish your article. These sites are often managed by just one person and your providing content to them is like a day off!
Finally, there are many sites that will allow you to create and publish your own blog posts, and many of them get good traffic. Some of my favorites are iMediaConnection, Adotas, Explore B to B, and Smart Blogs.
Brian Carter is a 15-year digital marketing veteran and popular social media speaker (with clients like NBC, Microsoft, Dramamine and PrideStaff) who delivers practical takeaways, entertainment and motivation. His Brian Carter Group is a boutique agency with world-class expertise using digital/social marketing and advertising to boost profits for growth-minded businesses.
“To be effective with B2B content marketing, you have to…”
Achieve multiple goals. That’s because it takes more than one kind of content to get people through each segment of your marketing/sales funnel.
One piece of content may have the goal of achieving buzz and awareness at the top of the funnel. This is the content that’s more like Buzzfeed or Upworthy in B2C and more like Marketo in B2B, actually. Further down the funnel, you want to make sure you’re in the consideration set by demonstrating authority with, for example, a blog post about the mistakes your potential customers make in your niche. Say something authoritative about a topic in your niche that shows at least one path they should go down, and at least one they shouldn’t. An infographic of stats from your niche is another way to demonstrate authority. Even further down, you should try to gain their trust in your specific company by giving them how-to content on a related obstacle (but not necessarily the thing you get paid to fix for them). Create advice and step-by-step content, usually in blog or video content.
The single most important thing to do is to create a map of your marketing and sales funnel that ensures you have, for each funnel segment, at least one piece of content meant to push people to the next step.
Ana is the Product Marketing Manager at Conceptboard, a cloud-based collaboration platform for remote and agile teams working visually on projects. By centralizing discussions, feedback, file sharing, tasks, and notes, it allows colleagues to connect with one another in real-time, directly within the context of their work.
“The most effective strategy a B2B application can have is…”
Understanding their customers and providing information and content in a visual way. We’re a visual collaboration platform, so we see the productivity benefits our customers get from communicating visually in their work. We take the same approach when communicating with our audiences.
People take in visual information 60,000 times faster, and much of the internet is now visual, so people are expecting infographics, presentations, screenshots, and videos that communicate complex concepts simply and clearly.
Video and visual content not only engages B2B audiences, but recent Forbes Research shows that it’s vital to the B2B buying cycle: a full 75 percent of executives surveyed said they watch work-related videos on business-related websites at least weekly, and it can drive them to take action.
Victor has been the owner of Clarke, Inc. for 20 years evolving it from a print shop to an inbound and outbound marketing firm. In his free time, Victor is a high school football and lacrosse official, and is the bass player in the Barleydogs rock and roll cover band. Clarke, Inc. is the hub for the management, creation, and distribution of outbound and inbound marketing.
“The single most effective content marketing strategy for B2B companies is…”
One word answer: PROPINQUITY, or more commonly known as the propinquity effect, as explained by Tom Martin in The Invisible Sale. You must have consistent marketing plans in place. You must create reasons for your customers to continue to bump into your business on a regular and consistent basis. The internet has changed marketing from “Top-of-Mind Awareness (TOMA)” to “Top-of-Mind Preference (TOMP).” In the old days of three television stations, one newspaper, and a few radio stations, a B2B with some extra cash could command their market using TOMA. The world is way too fragmented now with multiple satellite channels, video streaming, satellite radio, online magazines, etc. to do this anymore. There simply is not enough money to market in all these channels. B2Bs must begin to embrace the TOMP marketing model.
In addition, too many small B2B businesses are stuck doing only outbound marketing which can be difficult to automate, or worse they practice “Oh Sh*t!” marketing, meaning they only do something when sales suck. This is stressful. Marketing in spurts doesn’t work. There is too much fluctuation in personnel, resources, and cash. It affects your product quality and customer service. Propinquity, TOMP, and a consistent integrated marketing plan solves problems, relieves stress, and increases sales and cash flow.
You must create marketing that helps and does not sell. Most Outbound Marketing falls into the selling trap while Inbound Marketing tends to focus on helping. You need to create marketing that is so good your customers would be willing to pay for it. You must create imperfect substitutes so that your product is the ONLY choice! You can do this by offering proprietary company information for free.
Jennifer Jones-Mitchell has been at the center of digital communications since the mid-1990s and has led digital PR strategies for Fortune 500 companies and start-ups alike. She is currently the Head of Global Marketing for Anderson Jones PR and the Chief Insights Officer for Pinpoint Market Research.
“When it comes to the most effective content marketing tactics for B2B companies…”
There is no more valuable tool for B2B companies than the blog.
Consider that 79 percent of the B2B C-Suite finds their content through blogs (source: eMarketer) and 75 percent of B2B prospects want sellers who can offer genuine knowledge and value. A blog allows you to demonstrate your though leadership in an industry, offer useful advice to prospects, and create online relationships.
As is true with any type of sales process, online conversations increase the speed of closing by 20 percent, because people prefer to do business with people they know — even if only digitally. A blog lets you push content out to your prospects AND allows you to engage directly with them through comments.
Ninety-three percent of the B2B buying process starts with an Internet search (source: eMarketer). If you are blogging consistently about your industry; if you are sharing case studies and success stories through a blog, you will be found by those looking for you.
Now, the other great advantage of a blog is that the content you create can then be shared through other social platforms like relevant groups on LinkedIn and through key hashtags on Twitter to further amplify the reach of your content and connect directly with prospects to convert the sale.
Finally, blog content is evergreen. It will always track in search engines. So, one blog post can continue to deliver relevant leads for years to come.
Michael Peggs is the founder of Marccx Media, a content marketing agency based in New York City. Michael helps small business owners and large companies plan, produce, and promote content that drives traffic, generates more qualified leads, and increases business for your brand.
“There are a few highly effective content marketing strategies for B2B companies, including…”
1. Post on Pulse. LinkedIn drives 80 percent of B2B sales on social media. Use LinkedIn to connect with influencers and drive decision makers back to your website.
2. Share your most successful strategies. Authority Marketing comes down to credibility, and you establish your expertise by teaching other companies the tricks of the trade.
3. Make it personal. Take the time to engage, comment, and create content that shows you care. Yes, the bottom line is always top of mind, but your clients will always do deals with people they like.
As the daughter and grand-daughter of entrepreneurs, Hilary Hamblin knows the hard work, sweat, and tears that go into opening and growing a company. She assists businesses in branding, inbound marketing, and social media marketing. Her goal is to use your website to grow your business. Hilary is an advertising and marketing consultant with Momentum Consulting.
“The single most effective content marketing strategy or tactic for B2B companies is…”
Case studies promoted through e-mail. Your customers don’t really care how a product or service does what it does, as long it solves their problem in a legal and painless way. Through case studies, B2B companies can move past the technical features of their product and right into how it helps the end user. By laying out the problem or pain experienced by a customer and how your product or service fixed the problem, you’ve made what you do mean something to others. By promoting these case studies through email, you reach your current, past, and prospective customers. They already know you and probably like you at least a little, or they shouldn’t be on your list. Some of your list will not be using the particular service or product you promote in your case study, and it may open a door for more conversation. You also know these are people who can purchase your product or service and most likely know people in their same position with other companies who may ask for referrals for products and services like yours.
Katy Katz is an account manager at Inturact, a HubSpot Inbound marketing partner. She is passionate about helping companies grow by applying the tried-and-true principals of inbound marketing and interactive optimization.
“All B2B marketing campaigns should begin with…”
A documented content marketing strategy. This is critical for campaign success for several reasons. First of all, it outlines the goals of the project, which sets the stage for all of your content. The goals should be specific in nature to make the most impact. For example, if your perceived goal is to drive brand awareness, you should think specifically about what that means to your business. It can vary greatly by company size, industry, etc. A more specific goal may be to work up to a national coverage placement by earning placements on niche resources. A content marketing strategy also defines the message and tone for all of your content. This will help you maintain consistency as you build out your materials and establish a strong brand image.
Mike Satterfield is an entrepreneur and designer who has been the creative force behind several startup brands that have generated millions in revenue. As a trusted consultant, Mike has worked with startup brands and multi-million dollar corporations around the globe to maximize their branding and new media marketing.
“The most effective content marketing strategy I have used for both my own brands and my clients is…”
To create lifestyle websites that target specific demographics. This is a strategy that can be used for both direct-to-consumer and B2B companies to reach their core consumers. We have several sites that are related to the automotive lifestyle. In addition to covering events and posting industry news, we also have advertising from our clients and sponsored stories. This allows us to expose the brands to a highly targeted demographic that might be interested in their product or service. Like any content marketing, consistency and quality are key to the success and growth of the website. Our automotive site has already reached over 1 million unique visitors this year alone, providing brand exposure to our clients and partners.
I have even expanded this concept into the world of print media with special edition and quarterly magazines which are sent out to influencers, subscribers, and industry professionals. These special print editions and magazines feed into the overall online marketing strategy and drive traffic to the magazine’s online editions and websites, which again have curated content that supports and complements the brands we work with. Overall, the point is to create buzz and use content from outside sites that you control to drive traffic and brand awareness. We have seen real growth in our brands and our clients, and many of the sites have become their own standalone brands which attracts advertisers and creates unique opportunities.
Corey Barnett is the founder of Cleverly Engaged Marketing, a boutique agency specializing in inbound marketing and search optimization strategies for businesses throughout Texas.
“In my experience, the single most effective content marketing strategy for B2B clients is…”
Creating unique content on case studies, asking for testimonials, and sharing customer wins with journalists
Case study content is not only a powerful trust and conversion signal on a website, it’s exclusive content owned by your company that can be promoted.
First, create a process with both sales and marketing for generating case study-type content. Perhaps all clients complete a survey and only those satisfied are approached for the next step. Or, it could be as basic as providing a bonus incentive for the sales team to ask happy clients.
Second, identify what levels of customer content are needed and where they fit in the process. A smaller commitment for clients to make is approval of their logo or a short testimonial on a website page. Only after months or even longer following a sale is an in-depth case study likely to be approved by all parties.
Finally, put a plan together to share case study results with journalists, major industry publications, etc. Get permission from the client first, then go to town promoting both of your successes!
Marketing that builds trust is why Stephen Williams, CEO of AllWebCafe, gets out of bed. With 20 years of experience in B2B marketing across a variety of industries, he leads an award-winning, performance-driven team of marketing and technology specialists that believe in the value of making connections that build trust with their target audience.
“The single most effective strategy for B2B Content Marketing…”
Lies within your story and telling that story to the right people. Content Marketing is about making a connection by finding common ground; your prospect and customer’s needs connecting with your unique solutions. To do this effectively, you need to be secure in two areas — knowing your brand and knowing your buyer personas. In B2B business decisions, there has been an expansion of the buying journey. A decision is often driven by a multi-disciplinary team and begins with online research. An effective B2B marketer needs to know the persona of the decision-making team and curate content that appeals to them at different stages in their decision journey. Successful content marketing is rooted in balancing your story with the needs of your customers and curating remarkable stories that resonate at every stage of the buying journey. You know that your content is effective when your prospect or client engages in a conversation, by commenting on a blog, downloading a white paper, and/or calling a sales representative.
A veteran marketer and PR practitioner, Mike Greece manages The Pollack PR/Marketing Group’s New York office focusing on B2B, corporate, and consumer clients. A graduate of the U.S.A.F. Academy, Mike holds a master’s degree in mass communications from the University of Denver and is an adjunct professor in NYU’s graduate school of communications.
“The best and most effective content marketing strategy for B2B companies is…”
Ironically, in a truly digital age, the “helping” business book that provides insights, education, and information – particularly one that addresses a burning platform or widespread problem in the business landscape – is a powerful, sustainable, and leverageable strategic marketing tool that magnifies the footprint of a B2B brand and elevates the importance and gravitas of the thought leader. Who would say no to doing business with a firm that wrote the book on the subject?
Shane Snow is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur, and the bestselling author of Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success. He is the Chief Creative Officer of Contently, which he co-founded in 2010 with the mission of building a better media world.
“The most effective content marketing strategy is…”
To focus on relationships. When you’re first getting to know a person, you don’t immediately tell them your problems or try to sell them on marrying you. Only after you establish a relationship can you have those conversations. Likewise, when brands start publishing content they can’t just push their own product agenda; they need to seek common ground through information and entertainment about shared interests. In other words, brands succeed as publishers when they have a commitment to sharing their story in a way that’s focused on the consumer first. When brands demonstrate that they have the shared values with their customers it makes consumers really care about the brand.
Ben Jorgensen is the founder of Klick Push Inc. The company enables marketers the ability to use curated music as a form of dynamic content to drive brand lift across marketing automation solutions.
“I believe the most effective content marketing strategy for B2B companies is…”
To promote blogs and videos that discuss forward-thinking ideas that are circulating the industry. Other companies that are looking to buy your services want to feel they are getting something of value from leaders in their space; they don’t want to feel they are getting a service that is secondary to a leader’s. Announce your business as visionaries within reach.
Erol Sevim is a B2B Marketing Specialist & Lean Consultant at Vative in Melbourne, Australia. Vative is Australia’s largest dedicated business optimisation consultancy and training organisation.
“The most important content marketing strategy for B2B companies to remember is…”
Quit focusing on yourself! Create content that makes life easier for your customer. Keep in mind that customers are always looking for something to make their lives easier. Businesses often make the mistake of focusing too much on themselves when creating content. This adds no value to the customer, and they will simply choose to ignore it. (Keep in mind the annoying guy at a party who just won’t stop talking about himself!) Remember, customers are coming to you to try to have their problem solved. If you can identify their pain points and help to resolve them, it will establish a relationship based on trust, rather than simply a commercial transaction. This means the customer will come back time and time again. You might achieve this through an article that explains how to save the customer time, or a video that demonstrates how to double their ROI. Remember that every time customers see your content, they will be asking themselves, “What’s in this for me?”
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