Last week I had the pleasure of attending a portion of Content Marketing World, held right here in Cleveland. I went with the intention to soak up as much knowledge as I could about B2B content marketing, and I definitely accomplished that mission. After pouring through the notes I took during the B2B track sessions I attended, I noticed some common themes.
1. Be an expert
One of the sessions I attended, “Implementing a B2B Content Marketing Strategy from Scratch,” talked about Symrise’s content marketing quest to be seen as a thought leader in their industry. It’s been said many times before, but they focused on the quality of their content, not the quantity. To be seen as an expert, they have a mix of owned and curated content that is relevant, targeted, authentic and engaging. Their owned content is created by developing topics and slicing those topics to layer the story. For the curated content they use, they’ve found that this can’t be an automated process. They involve the rest of their organization to ensure that what they’re curating is quality content that is targeted and relevant.
2. Be trustworthy
With such heavy focus on digital, I was surprised to see there was a session about John Deere’s The Furrow. This print publication has maintained relevancy over nearly 120 years in print. One of the key takeaways from this session was how important it is to be trustworthy. Although you could argue that The Furrow is a trusted source simply because it’s been around for a long time, maintaining that relevancy and trust isn’t always an easy task. They make sure that the content they produce isn’t self-serving. In fact, the articles in The Furrow hardly mention John Deere products at all. The lack of self-promotion makes readers see The Furrow as a trusted source, and it also doesn’t hurt that some of their writers are farmers who really get their audience.
3. Appeal to Emotions
Often times B2B marketers fall into the trap of viewing their audience as companies and not as actual people buying their products or services. Even B2B buyers have emotions that drive their purchasing decisions. In the opening keynote from Andrew Davis, he talked about the “moment of inspiration” in the customer journey and how content marketing can drive that. One example he provided comes from IBM’s Watson computer. Watson famously competed on Jeopardy against the best and the brightest contestants. Even though Watson is a computer, people connected with it on an emotional level. When Watson got the question wrong, we empathized with him. And when he got it right, we celebrated with him. Harnessing these emotions is important for B2B brands because emotion often leads to action. Davis challenged attendees to think about which emotions inspire action for the products or services they offer.
The conference was full of great information and this only scratches the surface. Producing great content is important to B2B companies, and in order to do so you must be seen as an expert in your field, be a trustworthy source and connect with buyers on an emotional level.