4 Key Principles of an Effective B2B Content Strategy

“Content is king.”

“Content is king, but engagement is queen and rules the household.”

“If content is king, context is God.”

You’ve probably heard them all. Not only are these quotes tired, they really don’t mean anything nowadays.

King, queen, prince, or duchess, who cares? Let’s just agree that content is important for all marketers, including B2B. Let us explain why.

So, what is content anyway?

If you want to have some fun with your colleagues, just ask this question and listen. You’ll come away with the same outcome: everything you do is considered content.

Not so fast.

We’re going to draw a line that’s important for any B2B marketer to understand. All of your marketing is not part of some nebulous world of “content.” Let’s offer this simple definition.

Your B2B brand’s original content is anything that fulfills your audience’s interest needs while aligning with your brand’s abilities or values.

The key here is your audiences’ interest needs, which helps us quickly answer many questions on what content is not. Most ads are not content under this definition. I’d challenge you that much of your video or social media “content” may not pass this test.

Content can take many forms, from videos to podcasts to webisodes to articles. Most B2B brands have some sort of content publishing tool. The problem we often see, however, is that content is generated without much attention to what the content will accomplish. Or how the content will serve some sort of need for the audience.

Why does your B2B Brand need a content marketing plan?

Too often we see B2B brands working without an actual content plan. Here’s an analogy I like to use for context.

Would you develop an advertising campaign with no plan on how to run it? Spend days filming a TV commercial with no plan to who will see it, when and where? Would you develop new collateral with no plan how to implement them for your customers?

There’s always a plan, whether short term or long term.

A plan helps ensure that every piece of content serves a specific purpose. And that your overall plan is driving some sort of larger goal.

What business purpose(s) should content serve for your B2B Brand?

Content should lead your audience on a path to a conversion goal. Perhaps your conversion goal is for the audience to convert to a local dealer. Or for them to sign up for your rewards program. Each piece of content should then serve a purpose along that path.

Part of developing a content plan is to outline your overall objectives. Once you have those defined, it’s much easier to decide which content ideas are going to drive your B2B brand toward the goal.

4 simple tests to determine if you have a B2B content strategy

Here are four easy ways to evaluate whether you have a legitimate content plan.

  1. When a colleague says “I’d like to see our content plan,” do you have a written document to share? This may seem basic, but we often find B2B brands don’t have an actual plan.
  2. Have you identified the content themes and topics that are most interesting to your audience(s)?
  3. Do you think of social media and content as the same? A content plan likely includes social media, but it’s much more.
  4. Do you have a promotion plan for each piece of content you develop? If there’s one most common error we endlessly observe it’s a brand’s content sitting on its website, Facebook feed, or YouTube channel with no traffic or engagement. The content might be great. But what’s it matter if no one is going to see it?

To our last point, I really like the way Laura Hanly put it in Content That Converts: How to Build a Profitable and Predictable Content Marketing Strategy.

“Unfortunately, many people confuse ‘publishing’ with ‘marketing’ and they end up completely stuck as a result. You see, publishing lots of content does not a marketer make: if you don’t have a plan behind the content you’re putting out, you will never make money or gain the loyal following that content is supposed to create for you.”

Does your B2B brand’s content plan pass these simple tests? If not, you’re probably wasting time and money developing content. And your content’s ROI is sure to be lacking.

This article is the first in a series on the topic of content marketing. Next in the series is Part II: Tips for Developing Your B2B brand’s content marketing plan.

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