OUR THINKING/ARTICLE

Why objectives come first when setting B2B content marketing strategies

Ben Harrison

For most marketers, there is simply not enough time or budget to construct a campaign that will achieve every conceivable business objective. So when resources are limited and prioritisation is key, how do you pick between B2B content marketing strategies to ensure success?

Author Arjun Basu, famous for his storytelling on Twitter, famously decried that “without strategy, content is just stuff, and the world has enough stuff.” The same is true of B2B content marketing. Without a clear commercial strategy behind your content development, the KPIs you set for your campaigns are likely to be too broad and the chances of hitting them will be slim.

Having to choose between campaign objectives that are equally important to the business can seem like an impossible task. The key is to focus on your primary goal. Build the marketing strategy to support that mission, as well as effectively managing the expectations of your internal stakeholders, and you stand a much better chance of creating a cost-efficient campaign that makes a real impact for the business.

Prioritising your B2B content marketing strategies

Depending on the strategic focus for your campaign, it’s important to consider the variables when planning your effort: your objective; the content you need to achieve that objective; and the skills your team needs to market that content.

Below are three examples of clearly defined B2B content marketing strategies that focus on specific objectives:

1. Building the sales pipeline

Sales opportunities, and ultimately revenue, is often a big objective for B2B content marketing and thought leadership campaigns. Not only does it short cut time-consuming and often cold outreach for the sales team, securing conversations for commercial teams also makes a strong case for continued investment in marketing initiatives in the future.

The key to securing and winning those sales opportunities starts with the content you produce. It needs to achieve two things: firstly, it needs to have a story that brings fresh insight on your audience’s issues, which is crucial for starting conversations; and secondly, it needs to provide practical insight, data and in-depth advice that can help to facilitate a dialogue once the meeting is secured. Data-rich content assets such as benchmarking tools are effective at both generating and qualifying new leads as they also allow your prospects to assess their own strengths and weaknesses, leaving room for your commercial teams to offer more customised guidance in the conversations that follow.

Sales-friendly presentation decks are also vital for enabling your client-facing teams to present your content and create a buzz in your client base. But, whatever the format, ensure that your content is laced with clear and concise calls-to-action. Without these, it will be a wasted opportunity that leaves your audience without a clear next step.

With all of your content optimised for lead conversion, it’s critical to ensure that your sales team is well equipped to capitalise on those great new-found opportunities. Investing time to brief your sales team so they are intimately familiar with your content is a good first step, but make sure that you have the right technical set-up in place to track conversations and opportunities through your CRM and marketing automation tools in order to report on your campaign-sourced opportunities. This detailed tracking is essential for recognising any associated revenue.

2. Creating a hook for PR  to raise brand awareness

Often one of the most effective B2B content marketing strategies, particularly for smaller ‘challenger’ brands, is to develop PR-worthy content that will help to build your reputation and improve brand recognition within the industry. For this particular objective, choosing the right formats in which to share your insight is still important, but it’s incorporating fresh research that will likely achieve that attention-grabbing headline you seek for that all-important PR splash.

Not only will proprietary research help you to develop headline findings for trade and mainstream media, it also supplies a wealth of information and evidence to help you structure your campaign’s editorial and creative content. Large-scale, longitudinal studies are effective for achieving this goal, but shorter, more cost-efficient rapid insights from pulse surveys — for which only 5-10 questions are often necessary — will provide punchy data-driven messaging to serve your needs.

Before starting to put together your campaign, use your own PR and communications channels to help understand the current media environment. A sure-fire way to alienate PR teams is to bring them in too late in the process when all the thinking has been done and the decisions have been made. Instead, introduce your PR people in the planning stages. Use their ideas to help shape the messaging and ensure you have a clear plan from the start.

But, one thing’s for sure, never lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is to bring it all back to your business. Provided that your content and insight also reflect your brand’s unique perspective and expertise effectively, this will ensure that you’re well-positioned to make the most of your new-found attention.

3. Creating conversations for better client relationships

In our experience, it is using content and insight to nurture relationships that’s most often referred to as a primary objective for content campaigns, but in reality, receives the least attention when planning the campaign strategy. Using content to support relationships with existing clients is critical and mustn’t be overlooked. As the adage goes, it’s many times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.

Giving your loyal (and not-so-loyal) customers ‘gifts of knowledge’ requires regular and varied streams of content that will help to keep them coming back for more. Whether it’s short-form blog content, long-form research reports, shareable infographics or simply a well-curated social media stream, you need content that will ensure you stay on the radar of your most-valued customers — both new and old.

Here, industry and sector-specific content is vital. Be sure to have your own subject-matter experts weighing in, adding deeper insight to your content through applying their own perspectives. Audiences want to hear from brands with authenticity. You need your SMEs help to achieve that level of originality.

Whatever your approach to coordinating multiple B2B content marketing strategies, it’s crucial to start with the objective. If not, you risk managing a scatter-gun content programme that likely lacks focus, clearly defined goals and KPIs, rather than a cohesive campaign the business can get behind. As Arjun Basu’s observations serve as a timely reminder, “the world doesn’t need more stuff.”

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About the author: Ben Harrison

Ben is part of Longitude’s marketing team, working closely with Emily – our marketing manager – and the rest of the commercial team to help deliver on the company’s content strategy. Using social media, our blog, and a long-term programme of eBooks and research reports, Ben helps provide the content the company needs to be a thought leader in the world of thought leadership.

Having completed an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Management from the University of East Anglia, Ben joined Longitude in October 2017 as a marketing intern.

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