There’s a fine line to walk in the B2B content creation process. Content marketers in large B2B corporations need to provide enough in-depth information to move the sales needle.
Yet, you still need to catch your prospects’ attention. With so much compelling content out there in the digital universe, boring, jargon-stuffed blog posts and white papers just won’t cut it.
You need to turn all those data and proof-texts into a compelling story. A story that will captivate your prospects from beginning to end.
But where should your story begin?
Start where every great story does – with a challenge the hero needs to overcome. Putting your prospects on center stage as your story’s hero will always get their attention – and keep it all the way through to the end.
Focus on Your Prospects
In B2C marketing, your content needs to answer your target customers’ main question, “What’s in it for me?” However, when you’re trying to snag a new B2B customer, you need to expand your focus to several people – your prospect’s key decision-makers.
So, you’ll likely need to create several customer personas for a major prospect. Each decision-maker has a specific interest in the company’s purchase based on their role in the corporation, as B2B marketing strategist Ardath Albee points out,
For instance, the chief engineer will want to know how your solution works and why it will increase efficiency, while the CFO will want to know how much money it will save and how much revenue it can produce.
For that reason, you need to research all the decision-makers’ interests. Speak to those interests, and you’ll have the edge over your competitors. Every piece of content you send them should tell how your expertise can help them find a solution that meets all their corporate interests.
Engage in Conversations
Even at the beginning of your prospects’ buyer journeys, anticipate some of the questions they might ask. Content collaboration with your sales and support teams, along with the research you’ve already done on your prospects, can give you a good idea of the types of questions they’re likely to ask as they consider whether they need your products and services or not.
Then, answer those questions within the body of your content. Be sure to read through some of the content your prospects have published in social media, blog posts, and website content. Mirroring the words and tone they use can connect you emotionally with your prospects, as HubSpot’s Doug Bonderud shows.
Mirroring demonstrates empathy. If you understand your prospects’ problems, you’ll be more capable of solving them. And, if you think that rational arguments and data are all you need to convert your prospects into customers, think again. Emotional connections are at least as critical to driving sales as logic is, research shows.
Create Content for Every Stage of the Customer Journey
Traditionally, marketers went only so far in attracting prospects to their brand. When a prospect showed interest in a company’s products, the sales team took over. And, after the prospect became a customer, they usually only interacted with the company’s customer support team.
But that was before content marketing exploded onto the B2B scene. Now, prospects demand more than a slick ad and a sales sheet from companies they do business with.
To earn a prospect’s business these days, a company must demonstrate its expertise in its field, show that it understands the problems that keep the prospect up at night, and prove that it has solved similar problems for other customers.
Content that provides valuable solutions to the problems your prospects face builds the kind of trust that turns them into customers. And, if you anticipate the types of objections your sales team will face and the complaints your support team will hear, you can provide content that will support your customers all the way through their customer journey.
That’s not all that content does. It also aligns your message with that of your sales and support teams, giving prospects and customers alike a single source of truth from your brand. In these chaotic times, consistency and dependability sell.
Document Your Strategy and Plans on a Shared Content Calendar
Since B2B content marketing involves a high degree of personalization and collaboration, you need to organize and store every aspect of content production in a single location – your content calendar.
Documenting your content strategy on your calendar is just the beginning. You need to include all the plans for each campaign, as well as “where, when, and with whom you will carry out each task,” as Tony Stillwell advises.
In addition to your overall strategy, you also need to lay out all your plans for each campaign on your calendar, as Content Marketing Institute’s Stefanie Curtis recommends.
Keeping your plans where everyone on your team, as well as your collaborators and any outsourced talent, has access to the documentation ensures that your content will always be consistent.
Campaign-specific documentation should include:
- An overview of the key points: Note the target audience, customer personas, problems to address, and your conversion goal.
- Topics, key messages, and keywords: Provide your creative teams with at least a tentative title, a quick summary of what you want to cover, and the keywords you want to emphasize.
- Brief biographies of the main decision-makers: If you’re conducting an account-based marketing campaign, having information about them at hand gives your content teams a more intimate portrait of whom they are addressing in your content.
- Related content assets to refer to: If you have specific content assets, such as images, infographics, or videos that align with your campaign’s message and bring value to your audience, include them as well. Make sure that you provide any freelancers or outsourced team members access to these assets.
- A list of team members and collaborators, and their responsibilities: There’s no substitute for clarity when assigning duties to each team member. Be sure to encourage them to reach out if they have any questions about their role or responsibilities.
- An outline of your campaign workflow: Provide your teams with the content workflow for each step of the campaign so that they can see what steps come before and after them. Knowing the whole picture allows them to see how their work fits into the overall schema.
- A link to your style and compliance guides: Your long-term employees are probably familiar with your brand guidelines. However, if you work with outsourced teams or partner with other internal teams, such as your sales and support teams, you’ll need to familiarize them with your brand’s standards.
Repurpose Past Content to Meet New Needs
Get the most value out of your content’s lifecycle when you repurpose a piece of older content to address a problem your current prospects face. Repurposing past content is especially valuable for account-based marketing campaigns when you’re nearing the end of the sales funnel with a prospect who’s nearly ready to buy.
For instance, if you’re an accounting software manufacturer trying to win over a big client, you might have an older case study or white paper that showed how your software helped a company in the same industry solve a problem your current prospect now faces. With a few updates, you can reuse that content to move your new prospect to sign on the dotted line.
Repurposing works equally well at the top of the funnel. Using that case study as the inspiration for an explainer video that shows how your software works can engage new audiences who are looking for solutions to similar problems.
Finally, Get Even More Mileage out of B2B Content with Better Distribution
Your teams have done a ton of research on your B2B content. Give it a wider reach with a more efficient distribution strategy.
Look at your social media and content analytics to identify market segments that might benefit from your content. Then, publish that content on the social media channels these segments frequent. Use paid search to extend its reach among promising new segments.
Segment your email list by industry, pain points, and interests. Then send each segment only that content that addresses their specific needs. That way, your content is less likely to end up in their spam filter – and more likely to catch your prospects’ eye.
Put It All Together with Your Content Platform
From ideation to distribution, the B2B content creation process involves layers of complexity. But you can simplify the process with a comprehensive content marketing platform that handles every step, automating a wealth of tasks to free your teams’ time for creative pursuits.
DivvyHQ is a content platform where you can ideate, collaborate, publish, analyze, and everything in between. And, you can try it free for 14 days to see the difference for yourself. Start your free trial today!