How to achieve meaningful B2B content marketing

Business stakeholders need concise and meaningful advice, not more content clutter.
22 November 2018

A ‘traditional’ 3d printer builds a toy robot. Source: Shutterstock

Business to business (B2B) sales are tough, particularly in digital; while no shortage of tools allow you to target the ‘right people’ for a price (LinkedIn, for example), you’re vying for the attention of a time-short audience who are being targeted, pitched and sold to around the clock.

Playing to emotions won’t work here; buyers in the business world are looking for meaningful content that clearly conveys their options, advises on solutions, and recommends the best one for their particular company or brand.

Put yourself in their shoes — you don’t want 100 different white papers from 20 different manufacturers telling you why their 3D printer is good for your business. You want advice about which 3D printer to pick and why one kind of printer is better than another kind — for your particular use case.

That’s exactly the advice that Gartner has for content marketing teams.

B2B marketers must move away from a model built on “more” (more content = more engagement = more progress). In a world where customers are struggling with too much information rather than not enough, the most successful marketers are focused on providing less information, specifically designed to make buying easier— say the team of global analysts.

“B2B buyers today will reward suppliers who make the purchase process easier. Our research shows that customers who receive helpful information that eases the purchase process are three times as likely to buy the bigger, more expensive option, with less regret,” said Gartner Distinguished VP Brent Adamson.

In order to help make the purchase decision easier, marketers must offer prescriptive advice and practical support through their B2B marketing strategy.

Prescriptive advice basically is clear, credible, and concise information about what steps a company must take in order to solve a problem or achieve a desired outcome.

It maps out the buying journey, identifies possible challenges at each step, and provides recommendations to overcome them effectively.

Practical support, on the other hand, simply provides tools to help customers follow through on the prescriptive advice.

Shifting the commercial strategy to buyer enablement requires reallocating resources to producing a different kind of content altogether.

There is an urgent need for marketers to move their content marketing portfolio away from thought leadership, industry trends and infotainment, which comprise the bulk of today’s content marketing fare, and toward buyer enablement — advised Gartner.

Here are some tips to help marketers determine what exactly customers need when it comes to good, useful B2B content:

# 1 | Focus on buying jobs

Ease the buyer purchase process by building buyer enablement content aligned with critical buying jobs and providing either prescriptive advice or practical support.

In the case of our customer looking for a suitable 3D printer for his business, make sure you’re helping them understand what the market has to offer, what you’re offering, and how they need to evaluate their needs and requirements before making an investment.

# 2 | Enable self-service

Repurpose successful content by identifying pre-existing sources of buyer enablement from functions such as sales or customer service and modifying them for customer self-service.

If you’re working with the manufacturer of the 3D printer, it would be a good idea to ask your sales team which of your manuals, white papers, and other resources and liked by customers and repurpose them to solve challenges and overcome hurdles in the purchase cycle.

# 3 | Constantly update

Build and deepen ongoing understanding of buying needs as they arise by implementing a buyer enablement system and strategy.

Since you’re going to invest resources into creating and upgrading your content for B2B buyers, it could be a good idea to ask them what they struggle with and create content that helps them — because ultimately, in helping them on their journey to understand their needs and the market, you should be able to find the right customers for your business.

# 4 | Ensure cross-channel consistency

Allow customers to self-serve by providing a consistent set of enablement resources across in-person and digital information channels.

Finally, it’s a good idea to make your content available on-demand. If those who want to buy commercial grade 3D printers need advice, they shouldn’t have to contact a local representative first before getting some information.

A version of this article originally appeared on TechWire Asia.