Five Proven Steps for Successful B2B Content Marketing
A diverse group of professionals meeting.
When it comes to business to business brands, content continues to be king, and as marketers adapt to the landscape 2020 has presented, our content marketing agency based in Atlanta finds B2B companies large and small – across healthcare, payments, fintech, manufacturing and more – are seeking counsel on a proven process for developing B2B content marketing that supports their efforts across thought leadership, sales and customer communications.
The primary myth is the perception that producing quality content marketing assets is easy and quick. Don’t be fooled! It takes planning to produce content that connects with the intended reader.
Here’s a peek at the steps we follow for business to business brands from planning and writing to distribution of content.
Step 1. Planning & Discovery: How should companies should undertake planning to support content development?
Ask: Why are you creating content and who will be reading it?
It may seem fundamental, but it is important and often overlooked that the work your content agency is developing should support your business goals and content marketing objectives. Are you clear on why you’re creating the content, who you want to read it and what you want them to do upon reading it?
Here are several strategic reasons our content agency develops work for business to business companies:
1. Establish thought leadership
2. Refresh/update marketing collateral to support an acquisition
4. Build awareness (e.g., a product launch or market entry expansion)
5. Support business to business sales lead generation
6. Engage existing customers
7. Launch or refresh copy for B2B companies' websites
Ask: What content would be relevant and compelling for your reader?
Before developing or adapting your content calendar outlining specific topics and the timing of them, the content planning phase should begin with a process to uncover topics that will matter.
We suggest a planning or discovery phase for your B2B content marketing. Here are several considerations:
- Have you established a thoughtful process for identifying mindshifts and today's most relevant topics? One that is more strategic than a quick internal brainstorm?
- Who is the audience your content is targeting and why will it matter to them?
-Who from your company is involved in developing the overarching themes of content for the year and the corresponding topics?
Do: Planning for quality content that will resonate with your target audience requires taking time for stakeholder interviews.
During the planning and discovery phase, stakeholders – both internal and external – should be engaged 1:1 to discuss what’s of interest, whether it is something that excites them, or an innovation they are ready to launch to improve the user experience of a loyalty program, or a new technology they’re evaluating that will enable personalized digital experiences.
How can internal stakeholders be helpful?
Internal stakeholders, such as a leader from a company’s executive team who has recently attended a virtual summit or participated in a panel, can share their perspective on trending topics or most frequently asked questions.
How can external stakeholders be helpful?
Discussions with external stakeholders can reveal what’s on customers’ minds now and provide valuable insights about their current perceptions of your company. These insights are gold for identifying topics that will help shift perceptions with the industry and customers. For example, a card issuer may lean on a vendor primarily to support credit card programs and overlook that same vendor for servicing their debit card services.
Step 2. Identify Topics: How should you develop and prioritize topics for your content marketing?
At the conclusion of the discovery phase, your team will have developed a running list of potential compelling topics. As you compile it, you’ll see a pattern of themes emerge which can be used to categorize the potential topics.
Not all topics listed should make the final cut for inclusion with your calendar; you’ll want to evaluate and prioritize the topics.
-Do the topics support a business to business company's priorities?
-Can topics be scheduled to support key upcoming events or initiatives (e.g., a keynote speaker or industry newsletter?)
-Who are the best subject matter experts (SMEs) to support the topic?
3. Schedule: What should be included in your content marketing calendar?
As you work with your content marketing agency to develop a content marketing calendar, remember that while it is your roadmap, it should be flexible to account for necessary changes and industry or company announcements.
Our content marketing agency recommends a content calendar include these core elements:
- Release date
- Channel – blog, website, social media, newsletter
- Audience – merchant, issuer, employers
- Region – U.S., Europe or global
Step 4. Production: What are the key steps supporting content creation?
Once your content marketing calendar is updated, finalized and approved, it is time to move into production mode. This means moving through the steps to create content! You may not need items four or five below, but if you do, ensure you build time into your schedule.
1. Conduct the SME interview to help flesh out an outline.
2. Develop the outline.
3. Write and refine the content.
4. Circulate for approval with legal compliance.
4. Translate the approved post into local language markets.
Once your content is produced, you are ready to release it, through whatever channels you identify to use. Metrics will help you understand what interests your readers.
Step 5. Metrics: How will you measure success with your B2B content marketing efforts?
Regardless of the channels you use for your B2B content marketing – social media, website, email, newsletter – metrics will help you understand what content is resonating. These data points can be leveraged to understand what topics are of the most value to your audience and what should be produced going forward.
Need help planning and producing the content that will support your annual marketing objectives? We know content marketing and content development is hard and takes both time and discipline. That’s why we’re here to help.
C.E.K. & Partners is a woman-owned branding, strategic communications and market research firm based in Atlanta, GA. Our writing lab works with B2B brands to develop content that supports building brand awareness and driving demand: research reports, white papers, case studies, websites, solution sheets, infographics, articles, newsletters, blogs and more. Here's a look at some of work for industry leaders like TSYSand Interface.
Clients turn to our market research team for capturing data and insights to inform their content, as well as to inform marketing plans, creative campaigns, and positioning their product.