Content marketing in the B2B realm can be challenging. B2C brands have an advantage because they often have exciting stories to tell. In fact, this is why I think outdoor companies like REI or Patagonia are so good at creating content. But for B2B brands finding stories to tell can be more difficult. As a result, they often rely on stodgy old case studies or white papers and require their audience to submit information to gain access to the content because they are still focused on getting leads. There’s nothing wrong with this, it just has to be at the right point in the funnel. You can’t go straight to the registration page. First, you have to establish a reputation as a thought leader whose content is worth registering for. Content marketing is about providing value, the sales are secondary.
Hire a professional — Your marketing department may be filled with aspiring writers, but creating great content marketing requires you to have someone who understands what it means to create content that audiences want to consume. They need content first, sales second mentality, and not every marketer can shift out of that mindset. If you don’t have someone who can put the content first on your staff then it’s time to look outside of your organization.
Have a documented plan — All the research shows that the companies who are most successful at content marketing have a documented plan. If you’re just creating white papers and praying for people to find them, you don’t really have a plan. Not only do you need to know what the goal is and how each piece of content is serving that goal, but you need to have a distribution plan.
Plan for distribution — Too few companies put thought into how they will make sure their content finds an audience. And if you want to branch out beyond the few people coming to your company blog, you will likely have to put some budget behind your distribution. Think beyond social media, and reach out to companies in your space — perhaps professional development associations — to find out if they are interested in partnering with you to get your thought leadership content out to their audience. Sponsor a popular industry newsletter or participate in a related webinar. Publishing content isn’t enough. SEO and social media can’t do it all. You need a distribution plan!
Combine content marketing with other tactics — This is related to distribution, but if you’re a B2B company creating content that is freely available on the web — whether it’s a blog post or a video — it behooves you to also have a retargeting plan in place. Without a registration page to gather your leads, it only makes sense to retarget the users who come to your blog with ads for products, or even just more content that moves them further down the funnel.