One of the challenges of B2B is finding the right type of content that will interest your audience and get them to consider you as a potential provider of products or services. It's easy to see content from a B2C perspective: consumers like to get helpful information and get to trust a brand before making a purchase. But why should it be any different for B2B? After all, there are still buyers with needs, challenges and objections; they're just buying for a company rather than for themselves.
With this in mind, it's not difficult to start thinking up some content types that would work well with B2B buyers. They are a bit different from B2C, but they can still be effectively reached through inbound marketing.
The buyer's guide
A buyer's guide is possibly one of the most powerful pieces of content you can produce for your B2B business. It explains the buying process in your industry and gives your readers the tools they need to make the right choice when it comes to your type of product or service, and hopefully they end up choosing you.
The trick to a great buyer's guide is to keep it neutral. Forget that it comes from you, the brand, and consider it from your readers' point of view. They want factual, unbiased information about how to choose the right vendor; the more expensive the product, the longer and more considerate the process. You need to take them through the entire buyer's journey, from identifying their problem to figuring out the best solution, without actually selling anything.
A good buyer's guide has several benefits to readers: it educates them about the product or service they are considering, it helps them find out exactly what their needs are, and it opens them up to solutions they may not have considered on their own--possibly opening the door to your own product or service!
For your business, a buyer's guide can do several things: it can help you convert visitors into leads and qualify that lead further down the buyer's journey. It also gives you authority in your field of work and can increase the trust of prospective and current customers.
The infographic is one of the most versatile and easily shareable types of content around. You can adjust its size, formatting and content at will. They are trendy, accessible and practical.
Getting a good infographic going will require quite a bit of research, especially if your content is data-heavy. The best infographics boil down complex statistical research into easily visualized and digestible chunks. You need to choose the most important pieces of information and build a story around them to make a point: for example, email marketing is better, or buying local helps the economy, or something of the kind.
A well-laid infographic will give your visitors the chance to learn a ton of information about a major issue or topic in your field quickly and efficiently. It's also easy to print off and hang on a wall or a board for further reference.
Infographics can easily be shared on social media; visuals tend to do better than written content on places like Twitter and Google+ (and obviously Pinterest), so give your business a chance to reach the visual-minded crowd by producing infographics regularly.
Is there something that most professionals in your field have to do? Write reports, send emails, plan projects, manage budgets? Do you have a process or a template, developed over the years, that does the job really well? Why, you have a possible template on your hands!
Templates are great bits of content that you can spread out over time, and then put together as a "pack" that you can use for turning visitors into leads. Templates are especially useful for businesses, since every employee wants to be more effective at his or her job. If you deliver a truly practical template, you'll quickly develop fans that you can eventually nurture into leads and customers.
Good candidates for templates are documents that need to be produced on a regular basis: budgets, reports, blog posts, PowerPoint presentations, etc. When building your template, try to be as inclusive as possible. You don't need to think of every possible use for your template, but you do need to include the elements that the majority of your users will need to use it properly.
The case study
It's no surprise that the case study has a place in this list. It's indeed one of the most effective marketing tools for B2B, and it has been used for decades to sell all kinds of products and services, even the most particular.
A case study offers the kind of information that a potential customer needs during the later stages of the buyer's journey. Your case studies show the depth and breadth of your expertise, your processes and your success. It also introduces satisfied clients whom your prospect can contact for further information. A good case study defines the problem your client asked you to resolve, the solution you implemented, and the final results.
Nowadays, case studies don't need to be dry either; many brands have adapted the case study to their own style and tone, making them more like "client stories" than "case studies".
A case study is an excellent tool because it proves that you can deliver on your brand promise and produce the expected results. By browsing your case studies, your prospects will be able to evaluate if the kind of service or product you provide is right for their needs.
The professional newsletter
There are all kinds of newsletters out there, but one thing that will work well with B2B audiences is a professional newsletter with a focus on your industry news. According to a recent study, 60% of business executives use email newsletters as their main source of professional information.
You're an expert in your field, and your clients trust this expertise. Why not offer an informational, weekly newsletter covering news and trends of interest to them? This nurtures your relationship with your clients and keeps you top of mind.
Newsletters are also good for pushing leads along the buyer's journey. If they find your information worthy of their time, they'll be likely to consider you as a potential vendor when they're ready to buy your product or service. If you have consistently provided relevant and informative news, you'll certainly be at the top of the list when it comes to trust and expertise.
Fall under the spell of B2B content
If you think your field is too boring or esoteric to produce great content, think again. Every business fills a need; and where there's a need, there's a story. You just need to find yours. There's no secret recipe, no magical incantation; just people helping other people do better business. If that goal is at the heart of your work, you'll have no trouble finding things to say to your visitors, leads and clients.
Photo by Flickr user Eva Perris.
Anabelle is Stikky Media's official wordsmith and grammar police. She loves writing, social media and learning how this wonderful thing called the "web" actually works. Officially known by her ex-colleagues from grad school as "the jargon killer", she loves combining plain language with complex ideas. When she isn't writing for Stikky or grading student assignments, you can find her knitting a lace shawl, finding occasions to speak French, sipping tea or making stories up. If you have any questions, comments or fan mail, you can reach her at [email protected].