As a business, you’re always looking for ways to sell your products or services. Content marketing is a great way to do so: When you generate informative, useful, and interesting content for your audience, you can also directly or indirectly sell your products or services to them. And for B2B marketing, it’s an absolute necessity.
Unique Challenges for B2B Marketing
Unlike B2C (or “business to consumer”) marketing, B2B companies have the unique challenge of not always being present in the eye of the customer. When you’re at the grocery store, you see products representing thousands of brands and companies lining the shelves. There are advertisements every several minutes on TV and on nearly every other page of a magazine. Restaurants’ signs serve as glowing billboards, attracting customers to come in and dine. While B2B companies do often post advertisements in industry-specific magazines that their audience may read or a billboard here and there, they do not have as many options in the physical space.
That’s why they need to take advantage of the digital space through content marketing. Doing so will not only help sell the company but work toward establishing a better relationship with prospective clients. And for B2B companies, there is so much variety of content that they can create to engage their audience.
Types of B2B Content Marketing
When it comes to your B2B content marketing strategy, you want to make sure you use several types of content so you can not only reach your audience through different channels but also offer them a variety of content that addresses all of their needs.
While LinkedIn is known as the “professional” social media platform and is for B2B companies that offer professional services and products, you should not limit yourself to just this platform. Take advantage of any social platform that makes sense (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, or, if you conduct business internationally, social platforms that are popular in the countries in which you do business). Your audience may have a personal, professional, and/or business account on social media that they can use to follow you. They may see your posts after work hours when they’re active. You’ll be establishing a relationship and creating a presence so that when your type of products or services are needed, they will defer to you first.
Another great B2B marketing channel is email, and you’ll want to push these during the work day (hopefully your audience has signed up with their company email). Newsletters can do everything from promote your latest blog post or case study, talk about upcoming seminars or webinars, serve as a mini-article, and more. One of the most appealing things about newsletters is that you know this content is desired because your audience requests to be sent it. And you don’t have to limit yourself to just one newsletter, either. You can have newsletters (weekly, monthly, quarterly) that cover different topic areas important to your audience. This allows you to be more specific in your newsletter content and helps you target a larger span of your audience, namely those who are looking for content that is more narrowly focused.
White papers need to be some of your best content. It needs to be well researched and sourced, and it must be informative and useful for your audience. They will tend to run about 5 to 10 pages long.
As a business-to-business company, you want to be seen as an expert on a certain topic, the provider of the best product in the market, or highly experienced in a certain service area. Writing white papers will help establish this credibility, and it can also be used to drive people to your website by sharing it on social media or through email. Another great benefit of white papers is that you can break it down into smaller pieces. Use portions of previous work to create a new article or take a snippet and turn it into an image for social media.
Like white papers, eBooks will be some of the best content that you provide. The difference is in the length, with eBooks being 10 pages or more. These are going to take even more time to research, write, and edit. You can publish as many as you want, but a minimum of two per year is good for most companies (if you have the resources to do so). Similar to white papers, publishing eBooks will help establish credibility and expertise in your audiences’ eyes. And also like a white paper, you can break it down into smaller content. Use portions to create a white paper or two, develop some articles, and make content for social media.
If you have a blog, you’ll want to make sure you are updating it with new articles each week. The bigger your company, the more likely you are to be able to devote resources to generate articles on a more frequent basis. But at the very least, you need to post a new article once a week. Cross-promote your articles by providing the opening paragraph in your newsletter or pulling a quote and using it as an introduction on your social post (be sure to provide a link!). You want to push your audience to your website and keep them there; the more they explore your website and learn about your company and its offerings, the better.
Instead of only generating content for your website, consider creating guest posts for third-party websites. It will be additional work because you’ll want to make sure you continue to create content for your own website, but it can significantly benefit your company.
But when creating a guest post, don’t just submit to any website: Be sure to conduct research for high-value websites that have a lot of foot traffic and is related to your company in some way. The benefits of guest posting include:
Expanding your reach beyond your audience
Garnering new interest from another website’s audience following
Have someone else promote your content
Know that guest posting will take more effort because not only do you need to find the right website but for nearly all guest posts, you will need to create and submit a pitch to the website prior to writing your article.
Something else you can consider is answering posts to be a source (such as through Help a Reporter Out) or to conduct an interview. Have your CEO, a Vice President, or other head serve as the interviewee. Their name will be associated with your company, and by providing helpful information, you will benefit those who may be interested in your products or services. It’s also less work on your part because you do not have to worry about pitching, researching/writing, and publishing the piece. All you need to do is provide the information!
If you want to show off your experience, case studies are a great way to do it. It’s another form of content that you can house on your website, use in pitches or proposals, and share across a variety of channels. But the main benefit of case studies that you are proving your capabilities, whether you sell a product that can help businesses or provide a special type of service.
B2B Content Marketing Considerations
When developing your B2B content marketing strategy, you will not be without options as far as content type is concerned. The basic rules, such as making sure your content is unique and free of plagiarism and posting frequently, apply.
To really strengthen your approach, consider taking a topic and creating a variety of content for different channels; this cross-posting will get it in front of more eyes. For example, you can develop an eBook. While you’re working on editing, create a series of articles and teaser posts and videos to drum up interest and awareness of the eBook. Then, when you publish it, create an announcement post for your social media platforms and a newsletter that provides an overview for your audience with a link to download the eBook.
By creating content that will help your audience do their job better, facilitate a process of their job, or assist them in areas in which they lack, you will naturally gain genuine interest in your company, and therefore, in your products and/or services.