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Content Marketing Best Practices for B2B Brands

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Defining great content is no easy matter.

To some CMOs or execs the definition may be similar to the Potter Stewart's quote about obscenity: "I know it when I see it."

I wish I could tell you it is this easy. It's not; but, here are critical benchmarks you should be aware of to create meaningful content.

High Quality B2B Content Has These Identifiable Traits

B2B Content Marketing Strategy Drivers: facts, figures and numbers drive credibility and are inherent in great business to business focused content vs. "consumerish" content.

Structure, story and presentation still drive conversions; but, other businesses are looking for brands that educate with their content.

The sell cycle for B2B focused brands is incrementally longer that consumer facing businesses: a sell cycle for an average B2B brand can be from one month to a year,  it's fraught with peril as "leads" can and do drop out of the sales funnel process.

It's all about relevance too. Your content has to be credible and relevant to the "prosumer" you are targeting.

Scott Monty uses the term "P2P "Relevance - his point is whether your content is consumer or biz targeted it's about reaching people with content messaging that connects.

Content syndication must be an inherent component of any content marketing initiative.

Whether your targeting a C-Level executive or a small business owner, they are all drowning in content and data and syndication helps to amplify your content marketing.

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Getting Heard Above Today's Digital Din

Getting heard above the "digital din" requires a well thought out marketing strategy. "Don't take a knife to a gunfight." It's a time weathered quote but appropriate for content marketing.

Throwing up a blog and praying for leads is no longer a viable marketing strategy for any B2B brand (or consumer focused). The sheer popularity of content marketing is driving barriers to entry.

Mirror the content strategy used by B2C brands to drive engagement: use snackable content to get the attention of your target market in your content stream. It's a two screen world and every exec today is running around glued to a smartphone.

Clutter cut through is critical to getting your messaging heard and visual content helps to do this.

Understand the impact of the buying decision on your customers. Consumer buying decisions are at times emotive or brand driven: the price of the purchase is much lower.

But, for B2B brands your customers are frequently making decisions that impact careers, profitability or even sustainability of their business. Accordingly, they want content that educates, answers questions and that builds trust in your brand.

Content measurement is a critical component to any B2B content marketing process. Encompassing basic Google Analytics analysis to building a complex sales funnel with real time measurement using MixPanel - big data analysis is rapidly becoming the mantra for any B2B marketing who wants to generate content marketing ROI.

Editorial Calendars are great for a solo marketing exec or teams: they help you or anyone on the team understand process, timeline, platform, content frequency and integrate your content marketing initiatives with your company's real time processes: PR, Tradeshows, Marketplace Wins.

This link will take you to our public Dropbox folder with a link to a sample Editorial Calendar and for a deeper dive on how to use an Editorial Calendar click here.

Content curation should be part of your marketing strategy: you don't need to create everything from scratch.

I am not advocating piracy, just underscoring the importance of using guest bloggers as part of your content mix, sharing content that may have been written by a thought leader in your industry or using a video interview that's chunked up into multiple content initiatives.

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Content Marketing Best Practices Used by your Peers


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Smart Brands are Curating Content

  • Know starting out "content curation" requires hand picking specific types of content and automation is not part of the process in most cases. There is a human element behind all great content curation.
  • Twitter is a great example of content curation: your Twitter stream will be comprised of Tweets back to your own blog but 80% of the content is curated using lists, hashtags, keywords and/or targeted Followers.
  • "Curation" should combine your own created content with sourced content: some thought leaders don't differentiate between "aggregated" (which may mean some level of automation) or "sourced" content that is "manually" selected.
  • Be picky and selective with content you are sharing that is not original. If your brand is sharing the same content everyone else is you are not going to stand out from the crowd.
  • Build a "social voice" - something your business, brand or you as an individual are known for.
  • Know your audience (who you are curating for) and serve their interest. Your content curation has to align with your business goals.
  • Identify key thought leaders in your industry, top tier pubs, keywords and topics that dovetail with your audience using content curation platforms like Curata, Scoop.it, List.ly, Feedly.com and Trap.it.

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Best Practices for B2B Content Marketing

  • Start slow: content marketing is a marathon
  • Establish benchmark measurements at the outset.
  • Keep moving forward: don't get bogged down in the proverbial trenches.
  • Align content marketing with other strategies.
  • Involve your entire organization whether it's five or fifty people: great content ideas come in all shapes and sizes: sales, customer service and/or exec staff.
  • Great content marketers "newsjack" and "borrow" from others.
  • Mix and match snackable short form (images, under 300 word blog post, videos) with long-form "evergreen" high value content.
  • Content marketing is expensive "chunk" and repurpose content to leverage your costs.

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Smart well Curated Content Drives Engagement

B2B brands face a more challenging content marketing strategy vs. consumer facing brands. Your content has to resonate at deeper level with your target market, necessitating higher perceived value, requiring more work and investment in your content.

"Smart" content is critical to stand out in today's noisy markets - inform and engage your target market and as you map out a content marketing strategy, keep your buyer's persona profile in mind.

Content is expensive, mix and match curated content with original content and build in rinse and repeat cycles with your content marketing to lower costs and syndicate your content using content marketing platforms. - that link will take you to a list of the top 25 content marketing platforms.

Remember, content marketing is an iterative process - listen to your market, adjust your content strategy accordingly and don't forget to keep any eye on what your direct competitors are doing.

Image Credits: Marketing Profs, Gartner, C4 Digital, Pardot.

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