I remember working on a digital content marketing campaign years ago. We were reviewing a couple new pieces with one of our content creators, and it struck me that it wasn’t clear which personas the pieces were targeting. I realized then that we may have fallen into the trap of publishing content for the sake of publishing content. That moment was a wake-up call for our team: Good B2B content marketing can be a powerful tool, but only when it’s used in the right way. There is no magic formula for creating good content, but your goal should be to provide value to your audience and establish trust.
1. Employ a Long-Term Strategy
Because B2B purchase decisions often have major implications for the entire organization, buyers entrusted with those decisions are typically experts. To sell to experts, B2B marketers must themselves offer content that shows expertise. Otherwise, why would a potential buyer trust your point of view?
However, exuding expertise via content marketing is not for the faint of heart. It’s a long-term investment. The greatest value in terms of results comes not in the initial months, but down the road, once you’ve built a trusted relationship with your readers: long-term thinking is paramount.
Craft a strategy that provides target personas with expert information that you can credibly draw from, and be patient. Decide who you’re writing for, what value you’re seeking to provide them, and how you want them to see you and your content over time. Determine your long-term goals, including key measures of success.
Maybe you’ve yet to have a “eureka!” moment about the importance of creating content for specific personas. If not, it’s important to consider who you’re writing for and what’s driving your editorial calendar. Are you offering ideas or topics that your key buyer personas care about? Provide information your market finds valuable, and the return on your investment will follow. If you’re hitting the mark, your audience will reward you with consumption as well as purchase, when they’re ready.
2. Inform Through Emotional Connections
To reinforce the notion of your company as an industry expert and strengthen trust with your audience, focus on creating informative content. Writing an article that lists 10 statistics but doesn’t offer insight about what those statistics mean is just clickbait. Not only should your content offer expertise, but it should also be informative and look for opportunities to establish emotional connections with your personas.
Eight out of 10 B2B purchase decisions include an internal champion lobbying a larger decision-making group. These internal champions use emotional appeals, as well as data and logic to reason with their colleagues. That makes sense. Remember that even when you’re marketing in a B2B context, your business is still selling to humans who have fears, needs, and aspirations. Inform prospective buyers by giving them expert advice that is attuned to their individual pains and desires.
3. Consider Your Distribution
When executed well, a sound content marketing strategy builds awareness and influence. This is only made possible through a thoughtful distribution strategy. You don’t want be the tree that falls in the forest that no one heard. Also, some level of trust is built when your audience observes you distributing content through channels they rely on for information.
To realize your potential, be sure to consider all of the distribution channels available to you and be consistent in the content you’re pushing through each. Today, your buyers are multidimensional in the way they are consuming content, often switching between apps and devices throughout the day to stay informed. Just looking at social alone, B2B marketers use, on average, six social media platforms according to the Content Marketing Institute.
Consider all of the components of your media network, today and into the future, that can help you maximize distribution and establish a trusted relationship with potential buyers. This network often begins with a company’s owned channels and platforms: blogs, social channels, and email, and can extend over time to columns on third party sites, paid distribution platforms, and earned media.
Here’s the simple equation to shoot for: great, targeted content times thorough distribution equals maximum engagement with your audience.
Seeking to Establish Ongoing Relationships
Content marketing can undoubtedly influence the conversion of eyeballs into leads. However, working past transactional interactions and instead seeking long-term relationships (focusing on personas) is the only way to build a following that pays. The trust that was established through months or years of ongoing content consumption may be the difference in winning that next account.
This article was originally published by MarTech Advisor on May 6, 2019.