Close your eyes. No really, close your eyes and let your fingers dance across your keyboard. Open your eyes. Now, break up the jumble of text with a few haphazard bullets, lists, and stats. Then, log in to your dashboard and publish your improvised masterpiece on your company blog. You can blast the email list while you’re at it too. Before you hit send, make sure that there are a few words underlined in blue to give your helpless clients an escape route to the nearest website. Congratulations, you’ve just written your first piece of bland business content.
Ok, maybe B2B content isn’t that horrible, but it has earned a bad reputation. Sirius Decisions reports that, “60 to 70 percent of content churned out by B2B marketing departments today sits unused.” Just imagine if you could do the same dust-collecting work with your budget! Oh that’s right, when money sits, it’s called savings. When content sits? That’s just a waste of time.
It's time to crash your bland B2B content marketing strategy and introduce ideas that will appeal to the eyes that drive the clicks and views that today’s companies value so much. Yes, we’re talking about humans, those advanced machines who have the power to push your business forward and actually close deals.
A groundbreaking B2B presence can’t be built in a day. It’s built campaign after campaign, as each piece of content pushes prospects closer and closer to being buyers. Successful companies understand that it takes some oomph to give prospects the necessary tools to make an informed decision in their favor.
“There is infinitely more content generated than we can ever hope to individually consume. The most important strategy for B2B content marketers is making creativity and data analytics a priority in the content generation and distribution process, to combat building content machines that churn out more of the sameness.” - Shahed Ahmed, Partner and SVP at Merritt Group
Let’s start by highlighting a few eye-opening B2B content examples that break the mold.
Blackboard Teaches Twitter
It’s easy to assume that an academic B2B company would have a pencils and crayons approach to marketing their product, but one visit to Blackboard’s website and you’ll see their Grade A branding efforts. From the eye-catching colors to the thought-provoking opinion pieces, Blackboard, an innovative technology and solutions platform for schools, has devised a great content formula. The brand caters to school districts while appealing to teachers and even students. Their Twitter page (and its 35.7K followers) especially caught our eye. The colorful, quote-based page presents sage advice from thought leaders, well-known educators, and recently published resources in the same way. In an effort to maintain a clean and consistent aesthetic, the brand directs user questions to a dedicated support page. The more objective, interesting, and educational the content, the more successful it is going to be.
Salesforce Explores Instagram
Salesforce, a leading CRM software provider, provides a useful example of avoiding self-serving content in favor of topics that clients will find genuinely interesting. The above Instagram advertising infographic caters to the growing need for brands to build a multi-platform presence. The infographic’s crisp blue design echoes Salesforce’s overall brand and is inviting without being annoying. The content is concisely informative, alternating between number-crunching and advice-giving to provide readers with actionable tips. Expert yet approachable content pieces like this build your company’s reputation and encourage clients to seek further industry-leading news from your brand.
Square Goes Full Circle
Square, a financial services merchant, understood that they’d have to go deeper than point-of-sale transactions to get their point across to clients. With Square Stories, the brand zoomed in on a personal customer story then zoomed out to highlight Square’s contribution to business growth. This Square homepage does a great job of seamlessly featuring varied multimedia elements. This Woody Lovell feature offers readers a glimpse into a single customer story through rich images, quirky typography, storytelling, and a documentary-style video. B2B brands looking to break away from the mundane should direct their content marketing resources to highlight the most compelling aspects of their business.
Finding Your B2B Content Personality
According to OpenView Labs, 72% of marketers think that branded content is more effective than magazine advertisements and 69% say it’s superior to direct mail and PR. Take a second to think about the effectiveness of your current B2B content. Then, ask yourself these questions:
- Would our targeted audience read this when they're not "on the clock?"
- Are readers likely to sign-up to receive new content based upon this piece?
- How many times has similar content been written?
- Can we present a freshly substantial or educational idea?
- Is this a piece that other departments would want to share in their next big meeting?
- What do the experts have to say?
- How can this topic be broadened or narrowed?
- Does this relate to an industry-wide trend or current event?
- Which emotions does this content invoke?
The B2B Content Marketing Breakthrough
Stellar B2B content will increase brand awareness, position your company as a thought leader, and ultimately convert readers into potential buyers of your product or service. Developing resonant and compelling B2B content will take time, just like any other business-altering approach that your company adopts. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and invest the proper time and resources in your B2B company’s content marketing vision.