A phrase becoming more popular in the online business world is B2B content marketing. But what is content marketing and what does it looks like? It's crucial for businesspeople to understand how this simple, yet powerful concept can achieve success for your company.
To thrive, every business needs to be able to create and deliver engaging marketing material. These campaigns attract aspiring customers, raise your company’s profile and help you gain a significant advantage over those competitors who don't use this technique.
We're going to show you some B2B content marketing examples that will inspire you to get creative!
The First Example?
An early example of content marketing dates back to 1895, when the farm equipment manufacturer, John Deere, famously created a free magazine called ‘The Furrow’, which was given away to farmers to teach them how to run more profitable farms.
While the farmers received helpful information relevant to their work and interests, John Deere was able to continually present their products and innovations in a positive light to highly targeted individuals that were likely to purchase farming equipment.
The farmers were grateful for the tips and practical information the magazine contained and were more likely to purchase John Deere’s equipment because of the relationship he created with them, and the goodwill the article had conveyed.
Giving A Little To Gain A Lot
Content marketing involves implementing a set of creative ideas that provide substantial value to potential customers. It differs from traditional advertising by doing more than just drawing the attention of the consumer to your service or products.
Content marketing offers something of value for free, with the aim of generating interest, fostering a relationship and building brand recognition and respect. In turn, you'll be engaging aspiring customers in ways that make them more likely to reciprocate with purchases, future referrals and testimonials.
B2C & B2B Content Marketing: What's The Difference?
While every business's personality is different, the type of customer you serve will fall into two categories; either businesses selling to consumers or businesses selling to other businesses.
Although B2B content marketing does share common elements with the business to consumer approach, it's often uniquely different. The main distinction is that B2C generally targets individuals for spontaneous, small to medium priced purchases. Think soft drinks, breakfast cereals, smartphones, lipstick or nail polish.
B2B content marketing strategies are directed towards businesses which are comprised of groups, teams, organisations and multiple employees. Purchases tend to be larger and more expensive, depending on the size of the business customer. Often, several employees will be part of the decision-making process.
Key Characteristics of B2B vs B2C
The following keywords help highlight the different characteristics of B2B and B2C marketing campaigns.
Of course, there may be some crossover between these approaches, but the above descriptions generally apply.
Want to learn more about how businesses buy?
B2B Content Marketing Examples
The following examples demonstrate how different B2B content marketing approaches achieve awesome results through various techniques.
The Line - Design
Content isn't just about the delivery method; it's about the user experience. You may have the best 4k videos packed with groundbreaking content from start to finish, but if the user experience is rubbish, nobody's going to watch them.
Frontline education show why having a slick blog design accompanied by a structured editorial process is the foundation for creating amazing content. How? Their bi-annual publication The Line won the Content Marketing Institute's award for Best New Print Publication for Design.
Frontline were finalists in four other categories, including Best Content Marketing Program in Education for its special education content hub; Best Corporate Blog; and Best Podcast/Audio Series for its "Field Trip" podcast.
Alibaba - Video Production
Alibaba is a Chinese eCommerce company that provides a platform for B2B and B2C customers to sell goods via web portals, electronic payments, shopping search engines and cloud computing.
They expressed a desire to break into the western market, and although you may have never heard of them now that could soon change if everything goes to plan!
While they aren't and probably don't want to dominate the western consumer market, they'd provide an easy route for business trade in China and want to take away the negative stigma associated with trade quality.
They started this with their pop-up shop marketing campaign, where 12 contestants competed in an Apprentice-style TV programme where one won £25,000 pounds.
They created some nifty explainer animations showing how you can submit buyer requests, open an account and trade online with trade assurance.
There's a clear message that you can trust Alibaba, while maintaining the focus that they want to make it easier for you to do business, anywhere.
MOZ - Explainer Videos
Moz is a business that sells SEO marketing tools, and their primary customers are SEO specialists. They have developed an ongoing campaign called Whiteboard Friday which teaches specialist subjects via 10-minute videos. New releases are delivered weekly by their employees or other industry partners and cover a variety of topics relevant to the SEO marketplace.
Their top three videos are:
- Greatest Misconception in Content Marketing
- The Rules of Link Building
- How to Create an SEO Strategy 2017
Industry specialists such as digital marketing experts and content managers are continually returning to Moz for the latest updates. Moz has positioned themselves as an industry leader and influencer.
This commitment to developing content means these handy resources will continue to rank Moz in Google searches and draw future customers to their website.
Embraer - Buyer Persona Focus
We're always reminding you how important buyer personas are in the inbound marketing process. Embraer don't just support that claim; they lead the way in showing the world how to embrace them.
Gravity (marketing agency) wanted to change Embraer's brand personality from understated to bold. And they did this through their buyer personas. I suppose you want to know what they are, right?
They created four buyer personas, The Trailblazer, The Profit Hunter, the business warrior and the runway legend. They weren't afraid to tell buyers what their persona was, because they're dynamic, positive names that their audience would be flattered by! There's also the why attached to them? Why am I a profit hunter? I want to find out more!
The most impressive part of the campaign was painting The Profit Hunter aircraft like an eagle. The video went viral and made headlines worldwide. Why? Because it used less fuel? Because it was the biggest ever built?
No. Because it was painted like an eagle, a predator that adapts to its surroundings, the hunter. It has the coolest name of any modern aircraft ever made.
Other parts of the campaign included a flight simulator of The Profit Hunter and a live TV stream. Although it will be best remembered for that video, the root of the campaign's success lies with the buyer personas.
Advanced Solutions - Creative
Software solutions sounds pretty boring to be honest! Not where Advanced Solutions are concerned though. With enough creative brain power, you can make anything interesting. And that's what they did!.
As the third biggest software solutions company in the UK, they set out on an aggressive growth plan. Traditionally, their marketing plans were product and sector focused and often reactive and short-term. So they wanted to change that.
They did this by being brave, ditching the safety net and opting to publish a series of FairITales, a twist on original classics like Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk. Although campaigns weren't sector specific, they could be moulded to do so. For example, Jack and the Beanstalk could be targeted at finance companies.
There was always a danger that the campaign may alienate some customers or bypass them. It didn't happen, and the campaign has been successful, thought-provoking and memorable.
How Can Content Marketing Help?
High-Quality Lead Generation
B2B content marketing generates high-quality leads if you apply it to your target audience (i.e. considered, researched, educated, fiscally responsible, etc.).
Sales come after you've spent time building relationships, establishing trust and demonstrating your strengths. Therefore, effective campaign strategies must be designed to elicit a desired response.
That usually comes in the form of reading your content and wanting to work with you, but you must also keep the reader wanting more. Send them on a journey, let them discover some information but keep other parts as a reward.
If you can keep your aspiring customers wanting more, they'll try to find it.
Adding Value & Building Relationships
B2B marketing places greater emphasis on building networks and nurturing long-term relationships to facilitate repeat business. One of the ways you can do this is by educating and informing your clients. If you do this, you'll be the respected, authoritative voice of experience that stands out in a crowded marketplace.
Content marketers should be more interested in playing the long game rather than racking up short-term successes, it's not to say you shouldn't focus on quick wins, but you should be able to generate both.
When selling B2B, the main difference is that instead of engaging one prospect or customer who makes the buying decision, there will generally be a team of decision-makers. You must convince everyone the product or service you're offering is better than a competitor’s alternative.
While all customers want the best ROI, businesses will often purchase in larger volumes, and the lowest price isn't always the best reason to buy. Business purchases tend to be less impulsive and more considered.
Easing Fears By Demonstrating Authority
Depending on the service, the payoff can be massive. Businesses that make large purchases tend to be cautious; they do their homework by researching their options. Only then will they make a decision.
They rely on feedback, testimonials, case studies and other means of proving what they are about to buy has an admirable reputation. A large purchase of an inferior product can be devastating to a company's finances.
With so much at stake, it becomes clear that B2B marketing requires careful thought and targeted communications to appeal to business customers.
Addressing all these concerns and gaining the buyer's confidence is always a challenge, but creative approaches can be implemented regardless of your marketing budget or expertise.
Why Content Is Still King
The adage that ‘content is king’ still applies but the content must be useful, informative and persuasive.
When companies decide it’s time to make a purchase, the next step is to research options and accumulate necessary evidence that proves your reasons for the buying decision are wise.
Without informative, educational content to guide them, customers will never know the solution to their problem exists, and it's nearly impossible to insert your products or services into the equation as the superior choice if you have nothing to back it up. Therefore, the best time to have unique content available to influence decision makers is now!
What Is The Next Step?
Use Your Imagination!
When it comes to content marketing, the power of a creative campaign will always have a greater impact on customers regardless of the size of your business or marketing budget.
All businesses hold massive amounts of expertise and experience that need to be shared with qualified prospects in a way that will engage, inform and serve to convince them that doing business together will increase profits for everyone concerned.
Can An Agency Help You?
Consider the services of a creative marketing agency who can turn information into inspiring campaigns.
The role of the marketing agency is to make dynamic content available in a wide range of formats such as product guides, case studies, infographics, podcasts, how-to guides, e-books, videos and white papers. The content marketer’s function is to find creative ways to deliver these helpful resources into the hands of potential customers.
How Do You Define Success?
How do we define a successful B2B marketing campaign? For some, it means increased brand recognition or greater education on whatever it is you're trying to sell or promote.
It could also be more orders, email subscribers and phone enquiries or industry accolades. For others, it’s a specific metric such as 50,000 Facebook likes or 10,000 retweets of a campaign ad.
Whatever you want to achieve, make sure you tie it to a measurable goal. For example, if your YouTube video hits increase from 250,00 to 500,000, this would satisfy the goal of increased reach.
Think About What Happens To Your Prospects After They See Your Content
In most cases, the desired objective is to create high-quality, qualified sales leads that result in increased conversion rates and more customers. There's no denying that it can be marvellous for the marketing team’s confidence to create campaigns that get attention and create a buzz.
But B2B marketing strategies should be about finding prospects and converting them into customers. If your marketing team has generated 50 leads and only one converts, you need to align your marketing and sales process.
Editor's note: This post has been revamped and updated for 2018. At Red-Fern, we love keeping our content fresh, it ensures our articles are up-to-date, relevant and accurate!