What makes a great piece of B2B content? Flashy visuals? Snappy copy? Or maybe it’s luck?
Nope, none of the above. (Although they definitely all help!)
Take it from me (I spend all day managing B2B content projects), most of the time you can set the path to content success before even the first word is written by asking three simple questions.
Is this just an excuse to talk about your company?
Wanting to talk about your business and your product isn’t necessarily a bad instinct. In fact, we love it when clients are so excited about their business that they can’t stop talking about it. It shows that they believe in their product.
But your business should never be the top priority or the focus when you’re producing content. After all, it’s not for you or your team to read. It’s for the buyer. And if their needs aren’t the foundation of every piece of content, you’re setting yourself – and them – up for failure.
Take a solution brief, for example. On the surface, it’s all about your product. But at its core, it should be about and for the buyer. When written the wrong way, it can feel like a dull list of features and capabilities. But done the right way, a solution brief paints the picture of how your product can serve a buyer’s needs and solve their challenges.
There is a time and place for everything: Farther into the buyer’s journey is a great time to write more specifically about your product’s or service’s capabilities. Like many other things in life, it’s less about what you say and more about when, how, and why you say it.
Try this: Center your content around the buyer. When you’re thinking about mentioning your product or business, ask yourself: Is this included because it helps the buyer? If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board and think about the purpose of the content.
Does this content have mass appeal?
If the answer is yes, that’s a red flag. The best B2B content is tailored not just to buyers in general, but to your ideal buyer.
Generally, a mass appeal mindset comes from organizations that are focused on increasing lead quantity. The philosophy is: Cast the widest net and you’ll get the best results. But that type of mindset doesn’t pan out in the B2B world.
A few months ago, a client came to us and said: “We have a lot of educational content, and it does generate leads. The problem? Those leads don’t really convert into customers. At first, our sales team was happy with the results, but now everyone is concerned. Help!”
As soon as we read their content, the root cause was clear. While the content was interesting and well-written, it didn’t focus on the audience that made best leads. They were casting too wide of a net. When the leads came in, it drained time and resources to sift through that large pool to find the few buyers who were actually a good fit.
Try this: Spend time figuring out who your ideal customer is and develop content with that specific buyer in mind. You may have fewer leads at the start, but the quality will drastically improve. And because you’re working smarter – by creating content that appeals to the right audience – you won’t have to work harder to find qualified leads. That frees up your resources to convert those leads into customers.
Are you saying the same thing as everyone else?
Over the last five years, I’ve written and edited a dozen different cloud migration ebooks and white papers. But every asset had a purpose and something different to say about the topic. For example, one was specifically targeted to manufacturers, another focused on security risks, and a third gave a detailed step-by-step overview of the migration process.
The lesson here is that no one wants to read the same exact piece of content over and over, especially if they’re actively researching the topic. If your content says the same standard stuff as everyone else’s, it’ll get lost in the deluge of content served up to your buyer during their journey.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your content. But you should have something new to say – a perspective or approach that’s entirely your own. That’s what helps you stand out to catch the attention of a buyer.
Try this: Consider the specific knowledge your company and your team brings to the table. What topics are you experts in? Leverage that perspective to create content that does more than give generic, superficial answers that you can find elsewhere on the internet. Your readers will thank you.
Plan, Plan, and Plan Even More
If these bad habits feel familiar, don’t worry. Even the best companies with the biggest marketing budgets fall into these traps.
The best way to avoid these pitfalls is to make time for planning. Don’t jump right in the moment an idea is proposed. Step back and ask yourself these questions to determine how to center your content around the buyer, tailor your message to the right people, and add something new to the conversation.
If you need a little help along the way, I happen to know a team of content strategists that would love to lend a hand. Reach out to us here!