By Martin Taylor
Content is the means by which you get your products and solutions across to the people who would want to make a purchase. While many B2B businesses can certainly manage to create content that effectively gets their message across, you need a strong B2B content strategy to guide your efforts and determine what works and what doesn’t. Let us take you through seven key steps that you need to take to ensure you come out with a great B2B content strategy.
Step 1: List down your targets.
70% of marketers currently invest in content marketing—it’s that crucial. Now, every piece of content created serves a purpose. Whether it’s generating awareness or drumming up interest or, of course, closing a sale, your content has a goal. Now, in order to ascertain the success of anything, really, you need clear target metrics and measures you need to hit. So the very first task in developing your content strategy is to define your goals and targets.
Now, when doing this, it’s very important that you’re very clear and specific. Avoid very vague goals like: “to generate awareness” or “to sell more.” This only sets you up to fail. Sure, you might not have an idea at the get-go what you can expect, but having a clear numerical goal gives your people something to aim for. Your goals are never set in stone, and you can adjust as needed, but make sure you have them before you do anything else.
Step 2: Identify your audience.
Many content creators think that the smart way to go is to try to create content that suits as many people as possible. The problem with that kind of thinking is that you end up with an audience that is too wide and content that’s far too general to stand out. A great place to start is to understand who your current customers are. There will be similarities and parallels along demographic, firmographic, and even technographic lines.
You can even take it a step further by creating an archetypal buyer persona. This fictional persona has all the common traits, preferences, characteristics, and personalities of your audience. You can then use this persona as a guide for whom your content will be written. This persona will ultimately affect the tone, approach, material, and even medium that your content will take when you create them. This is a key step as it will guide your actual content creation down the line.
Step 3: Audit your existing content.
Given that you already have a set of goals in mind as well as an idea who your audience should be, you already have a rough set of criteria by which you can evaluate what content you do have. Yes, even if you are starting your B2B content strategy anew, your existing and even older content has some value that’s worth looking into. In evaluating your content, what you need to determine is whether or not what you have meets your goals and suits your identified audience.
Your analytics—depending on what you used to deliver your content—will serve you well here. Look at the numbers and judge each bit of content accordingly. Now, depending on what the numbers show, you can refine and reuse those that work, repurpose those that are middling, and discard what clearly doesn’t fit your overall strategy. Older content is still a great source of ideas and material in the creation of newer content.
Step 4: Organize your content team.
The next key step is to organize the people who are ultimately going to execute your content plan. You need someone with a strong background in content management to keep an eye on the numbers—to determine whether or not you’re hitting those goals. They will also be responsible for ensuring that production goals are met. The rest of the team should follow based on the needs of your team. The key is that there is always someone accountable for one aspect or the other.
Part of your organization should also include the calendar by which you track production and distribution of your content, the tools and platforms you use to produce and send out your content, and any other software or hardware needs that make everything efficient. You should also establish a clear process flow so anyone can tell you what’s happening at any given point in time. It takes a lot of work to organize but you’ll be glad you did when things get hectic.
Step 5: Research content ideas.
Content ideas come from many sources. Many follow on from popular trends, others come from good experiences, and quite a lot come from personal preferences of content creators—and their bosses. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these sources, you must not forget one fundamental truth: great content is content that performs. Even if you ride on popular trends, it’s no guarantee for success. Those trends might not resonate with your audience, to begin with.
The first key consideration, then, should always be your audience. Identify what types of content they like to read or watch, understand what material they’re using for, and you have an excellent source of ideas that can ultimately use to create content down the line. Another source of ideas is actually your competitors within your industry. Many platforms like Ahrefs let you generate content ideas based on keywords relevant to you—it shows what others have been writing about and how they perform.
Step 6: Create that content!
When you have a good set of content ideas, you can start to create content. Sure, you might be riding on an existing trend or reworking an old idea, the way you can differentiate from the competition (or even from yourself) is to expand on the formats you use. Most people will do articles—and you should too, really—but there are so many other formats that you can try out. These include videos, infographics, case studies, whitepapers, research materials, and so much more.
The format you use again should depend on who you’re creating content for—go back to your audience and what they like to see. And additional consideration is the message you’re trying to deliver. Case studies are almost always written in article format—but they work equally great as a video or even a downloadable fact sheet/infographic. At the end of the day, stick to the formats that are effective for you.
Step 7: Distribute that content.
Finally, you need to choose the channels you’ll use to distribute your content. At the risk of sounding like a broken record: go where your audience is. Social media is a very popular and successful choice nowadays and certainly something to consider—just make sure you pick the platform consistent with your audience’s preference. You might also consider more direct platforms like email and even telemarketing that have proven effective in the past.
Another great option is content syndication. These are dedicated platforms that place your content in front of the people who want and need what you have to offer—your target audience. The best of these platforms even offer you engagement data so you can narrow down targets and leads that are clearly interested and more likely to buy. Whatever platform or platforms you ultimately use, check performance to determine if you’ve made the right choices.
Follow these steps and you’re going to have a strong B2B content strategy to guide your efforts. Just bear in mind that every strategy is constantly evolving. The best ones, in fact, adapt to what the data reveals about performance or even shifting preferences among your audience. Ultimately, the best strategy for your content is the one that’s working at the moment. We recommend looking over your content at least every quarter, so it’s up-to-date.
About the Author
Martin Taylor is Executive Director of Vendor Sales for Internal Results’ in EMEA. He guides the company’s sales teams in the region as they work to grow and increase the company’s presence in the region.