Does your content strategy need a makeover? Is your B2B content worthy of the fashion runway and the red carpet, or does it, if you’re being honest, come across as a little dowdy, grey and drab, more fit for an episode of What Not to Wear?
In my sales enablement role at PathFactory, I study brands and stories to create custom demos for B2B companies who want to see our content marketing automation platform in action. The best way to show how marketers can optimize their content to convert interest into qualified demand is to use their own assets in the demo. I really enjoy going through beautiful, well-designed content, whether it’s blog posts, eBooks, white papers, data sheets, videos or case studies, and putting all the pieces together to build an amazing content experience.
You see, I’m what you would call a fashionista – a serious follower of all things fashionable and trendy. Whereas some people wake up in the morning, grab a pair of pants, a clean t-shirt and black shoes without much thought, I open my closet and pull out a hanger of pre-selected, carefully styled clothes for the day. In this post, I’ll bring together my passions for eye-catching fashion and excellent B2B content to offer some tips to make your content stand out. Want your content to really pop? Here are 4 things to keep in mind.
1. Quality Never Goes Out of Style
In my role, I’m lucky to be able to look at a lot of content. The pieces that always stand out for me are the ones that look great and read well. If you take the time and effort to put together a signature piece of content – that killer asset that’s the marketing equivalent of the well-cut black sport coat or little black dress – it’ll become an instant classic. These signature pieces aren’t easy to create and they don’t come cheap, but think of them as a long-term investment. There’s a reason marketers call certain types of content “evergreen.” If you focus on solving a pressing challenge or making some aspect of your customer’s life easier, and if you do it right, your content asset will keep getting attention, delivering value and generating ROI for a long time to come. Quality content that educates and informs never gets dated. And it’s always easier to rebrand and update a quality asset than it is to create or buy something new. You don’t throw out that impeccably-tailored designer blazer; you take it in to get altered.
2. True Style Comes from Substance
How many times have you started reading a new eBook only to discover that it offers nothing new or doesn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know? It’s like meeting someone at a party who is dressed to the nines and looks stunning, but when they open their mouth, you quickly catch on to the fact that they’re not terribly interesting and don’t have much to say.
A nice cover and a catchy title may capture someone’s attention initially, but to hold on to that attention, your content needs to have substance. Sure, you want your stuff to be snackable, your copy succinct and to the point – and yes, a picture or chart really is worth a thousand words. But that said, don’t be afraid to go into depth when it’s needed. Big, complex customer problems can take time to understand. Shorter isn’t always better. Long-form content like eBooks and white papers still has a place in your resource center alongside those trendy videos and infographics. In addition to providing valuable information, your content also needs to have a point of view and a distinct personality. Good original content dares to challenge conventional wisdom. Don’t be afraid to offer a controversial point of view and kill off a few sacred cows. Your audience will thank you for it.
3. Mix and Match Old and New
What’s in your content closet? I mean way at the back? While it’s human nature to gravitate toward what’s new, don’t forget about those older assets that still look great and can do the job. Hubspot found that 75% of their blog views and 90% of their blog leads came from old posts:
“Pretty crazy, eh? Turns out you can generate real results from old content – and the more you publish, the more old content you’ll have that’ll get you traffic and leads over time.”
At any point in time, a whole new crop of prospective buyers is entering a phase of sales-readiness and self-education, and to them, your content is all new. They won’t know or care that you wore that same dress to last year’s Christmas party: to them, it’s just an amazing outfit.
Likewise, pairing an older piece of content with a newer asset can create a fresh and on-trend content experience. Consider promoting that blog post from last year along with a new third-party article that validates your point of view. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue… The old wedding ditty is good advice for B2B marketers: Use every asset in your content arsenal and package them together in different ways to tell your story and reach different audiences. You may have seen that eBook a thousand times and be totally bored with it yourself (yawn), but your reader has no such preconceptions.
4. Think about the Full Package
No matter how stunning, it’s unlikely that any one piece of content is going to seal the deal when it comes to influencing your buyer. It takes a LOT of content to educate and inform a considered B2B purchase decision. Not to mention there are many different people involved in the purchase process. Sure, you impressed one person on the buying committee with that snazzy little number, but what about the other 10 people on the buying committee? And what are you going to wow them with next time? Marketers need to stop thinking in terms of one-off content events and start thinking about the whole package – mapping assets to the various stages of the buyer’s journey and making sure one piece of content leads naturally to another. Even that signature piece of content we talked about above won’t stand on its own. The little black dress needs to be paired with the right shoes and accessories.
Great Gets Noticed
I have no shame in admitting that I put a lot of thought into what I wear and how I wear it. To me, presentation is everything. The trends have to be worn properly, the fabrics need to be right and you have to keep your public in mind. Yes, I also care about what my public thinks when I get dressed. If you like what I am wearing, you’ll find me approachable. You’ll want to come over and talk to me! We might even become fashion friends and plan a shopping trip together. Fun, right? Now thinking of your business and your B2B content (which is the first thing your buyer is likely to see), isn’t that what you want too? You want people to stop in their tracks, look at you and say, “Wow, you look stunning! I want to get to know you better.”
This kind of positive first impression can lead to a meeting, a demo request and a long-term customer relationship. And it doesn’t come easily to the “Pants and Clean T-shirt” set – those B2B companies whose content is the marketing equivalent of a boring, ubiquitous pair of khakis. It happens when you really understand the story you want to convey with your content, when you take the time to lay it out in advance, and when you package it up and put it all together in the best way before you head out in the morning.
Do you want to look “good” or “great”? There’s a big difference between simply having content (every B2B company has that!) and having a content strategy that focuses on quality and consistency and aims to not only inform and educate, but also to wow and delight.