If the promise in Field of Dreams were true in business, simply building a library of content would be enough to generate growth. In the real world, many B2B companies discover that despite building it, the customers don’t come.
To understand why, it helps to distinguish the B2B context from consumer marketing. To sell more lawn chairs through a web store, a business might prioritize search engine rankings and Google Ads to drive traffic. All the company wants is more customers to click through and order chairs. B2C content marketing efforts open doors for self-motivated customers to walk through.
B2B marketing works differently. Few businesses hire industrial fabrication suppliers, corporate attorneys, or maintenance specialists on the basis of search engine rankings or cold emails alone. Those types of tools may still open doors, but B2B customers typically aren’t going to walk through on their own. They want someone to step forward, take their hand, and guide them across the threshold.
Failing to seize the prospect is a common point of failure in B2B content marketing. Publishing articles to a blog, sending emails, and posting to social media are all ways to create openings for a personal connection with potential customers. To realize the full potential of content marketing, consider these ideas:
- Know the goal.
Content marketing is a great tool for accomplishing a diverse spectrum of business goals. Knowing precisely what the content marketing investment should achieve is essential to getting the most from it.
Sales growth is a common example. Just looking at the bottom line may not be enough to measure whether a marketing effort has worked. Instead, the team should know the kind of sales it is trying to grow. A strategy to expand sales to existing customers looks different from one focusing on finding new buyers.
- Bring the right people into the strategic conversation.
Content marketing is most effective when it is addressing the real needs of a business. The people who best know what those needs are need to participate in the process to set the marketing team on the right path.
We have worked with clients who refused to let us talk to their sales team, despite asking us to promote sales. Others have asked us to support employee retention efforts without coordinating with their human resources department. An experienced marketing team knows how to make the most of limited information, but it can do much more with the help of the right people.
- Make active use of content marketing assets.
It’s not enough to post regularly to the company blog or regularly feed its LinkedIn page. Relying on machines to do all the work results, at best, in weak relationships. To land million-dollar contracts, someone needs to pick up the phone.
In those early conversations, content marketing assets provide clearly worded answers to questions, colorful illustrations of the company’s process, and durable reminders of the brand.
In this light, a company’s blog is less a field of dreams and more a bucket of balls. Every post can be sliced into email content or placed into a beautifully designed sales sheet. Several posts together can become a high-value glossy booklet or lead-generating download.
Don’t just post and pray. Think of posting as only the beginning.
- Stay flexible.
We like to tell clients that content marketing is a big toolbox. As their needs change, so can our strategies. A new approach doesn’t mean the old content is worthless. If anything, it only becomes more valuable—as a source of already strong ideas.
Many businesses are discovering the importance of video in their marketing efforts. Video delivers memorable messages in ways text cannot. But a shift to a video-based strategy can feel intimidating. Along with the technical side of production, what should the videos be about?
Consider starting with upcycling the company’s existing trove of written content. Many topics are “evergreen” and benefit from being covered in multiple formats. If the company has created infographics, turn them into animations with voiceover. Because email copy often has a conversational tone, it can become the foundation of a strong script.
Build it and use it, and they will come
Activating your company’s content marketing assets will yield real results. If you already have a trove of content, but you haven’t started using it, you may already have enough material to sustain a long, multifaceted campaign.
Want to learn more? Get in touch with Red Mallard to begin shaping an action plan today.