Nearly every business is now aware of the importance of integrating content into its marketing strategy. However, advice on content marketing that's available online is often too general in focus or written for those marketers who work with regular consumers. B2B content marketing, while it shares the fundamentals of all such work, has distinct requirements. Marketers should ask themselves whether they are leveraging content to its fullest extent – if not, a couple of these suggestions might help:
- Produce a variety of content for each stage of the sales process. The needs of B2B buyers in the lead generation phase differ greatly from those of an existing customer to whom a business is looking to upsell. Having content available for every phase of the B2B purchasing relationship will help a company attract and retain prospects, according to Search Engine Watch. Marketers should brainstorm about what information buyers are likely to need at each place in the process and create a marketing strategy accordingly. This may involve using different channels for different purposes; short, engaging content that's easy to find on search engines can help bring leads in, while in-depth white papers can help inform buyers who have already demonstrated an interest.
- Information is key. According to the 2013 Buyersphere Report by Base One and B2B Marketing, only 8 percent of B2B buyers consider themselves experts. Marketers can capitalize on this finding by providing quality information to prospects. The vast majority do not believe themselves to be fully informed, so they're likely to seek out content that can improve their purchasing decisions. Content that is presented by a particular business but not focused on pitching that business' products can build trust with buyers and increase brand recognition. Companies that provide valuable information have a distinct advantage.
- Tap into common business fears. According to Marketing Profs, one of the best ways to draft a content strategy is to understand what keeps customers up at night. If there is a problem in the business world that can be solved by a company's product, content must address it in this way. In situations where both the problem and solution are fairly specific, marketers can devise content that relates to the industry as well as content directly related to the product. For example, a company that provides accounting programs needs to keep the interest of clients over time. Few people will willingly read about accounting software for days on end, so diversifying the content strategy to include articles addressing common financial issues in business can keep buyers reading.