If you want to sell your product to consumers there are various ways you can stand out, but beyond price it boils down to one thing: added value. Although it is somewhat nebulous, it shouldn’t be forgotten that added value is marketing gold – it’s the reason people buy £1,000 jeans, Apple products that cost three times the equivalent of a PC, or Rolex watches. Added value could be heritage, design or really anything that gets consumers excited and so represents something they find special. Using content is one way to tell such stories persuasively.
If we switch our attention to business-to-business (B2B) marketing, then the logic shifts. I’m generalising but in B2B, the bottom line has usually been the responsibility of a sales team rather than a marketing team.
This makes a lot of sense. Actively selling your product or widget is a good idea, to get potential clients in front of it so they can try it and get a feel for what your company is about. Price remains a factor, but sometimes the company story or its values are far less persuasive than for a consumer audience.
In business it’s the combination of price, performance and trust that makes all the difference. Content has a big but often untapped part to play here, particularly for building trust, which is often the decisive factor in business decisions. Trust is the gut instinct; it makes and seals deals, and builds relationships.
The problem is that too much B2B content reeks of the corporate – all polished teeth and chinos. This is part of the accepted language of B2B marketing, and inevitably there will be some output that will be like this, but content should do something different. It shouldn’t be there to sell your company, it should be there to persuade people to trust your company, and to trust you.
Content for business can be rather tricky to formulate, and of course ‘business’ could mean pretty much anything. But there are still some principles to keep in mind, and underlying all of them is the idea that the content should not be an exercise in what ought to be done; it should be useful, meaningful or both.
Repurpose your content. Let’s assume someone at your company speaks at an event. Film your speakers and upload the presentation to YouTube. You then have an asset you can use again and again. It can be part of a social media post, a blog entry or LinkedIn update.
Keep the presentation deck and upload to Slideshare and you can do the same. Even better, pay a journalist to cover the event with a bit of verve, or use an experienced filmmaker to make the video sing, and then use the piece for your newsletter, blogpost, or social media. If it’s done well, people will watch. Content should not end at one use and can be reused over and over again.
It’s not all about you; champion your clients. In the example above, if you employ someone to cover the event, give the resulting content to your clients so they know you are talking about them, but remember to package it nicely. In any video or presentation deck, don’t forget your clients and talk about them. This will also work for potential clients. Now, your content is doubly useful – both for you and your client, so both can use the content to post to your social media accounts, blogs or really anywhere you want to.
Share your links. Social media is a great springboard for your content. Use your blogposts, videos or other news to feed your social media. Think about which social networks work for you, and put your content to work.
Crucially, if your content mentions someone in another company, make sure they know – give them the link so they can post about it, but also make sure you include their handle in your post, so they know about it and can retweet or repost. This way you use their network to amplify your content, and this is the right way to do it. Both sides gain from the relationship and you build that relationship in the process.
Consider creating larger, more complex pieces of content. For example, if you already host an event, make sure your clients come and speak. Cover it in detail, and bundle up the presentations, articles, whatever you create, into a special conference package. Just for them. Again, this multiplies the number of ways the content can be used, and the number of people or businesses who would want to use the content.
Think of your content as a way to reach out to your clients and potential clients, and by giving them something, they will in turn trust you that bit more. While a glimpse into how your business thinks and operates can be compelling, as we all know, people like to hear about themselves and businesses are no different, so be generous.
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