B2B Content Marketing 101
Updated: Feb 1, 2020
Who among us doesn’t look at events and information in a context of our choosing? Specific frames of reference are everything in human interactions. A shared coffee at a dear friend’s home will likely lead to a warm coversation, but a stranger initiating one uninvited at a café might seem like an intrusion, if you are looking for a private moment instead. The worlds of B2C and B2B content marketing share some elements, but they also diverge in important ways. Applying B2C approved strategies in a B2B context could be a terrible mistake. It’s like trying to produce solar power with a windmill, good intentions can’t remedy inappropriate tools.
In B2B, the focus is on sales and leads rather than brand awareness. While your posts should still be engaging, you need to pay greater attention to providing useful content. To begin with, the audience for B2C marketing is large and varied, while for B2B it’s smaller, focussed and more rationally driven. Communicating effectively with a business calls for creating useful content that establishes you as a thought-leader and a respected professional resource, in the industry. However, the trick is to reconcile business-like with being interesting. A lot of B2B brands struggle to create this balance and their content ends up boring and unable to enage its intented audience.
Let’s take a look at a couple of IT brands that did hit the right B2B content marketing note, to see how they got things right:
Better known in the general population as a maker of computers and laptops, Lenovo also sells computer technology around the world. To market itself to its business clients, Lenovo created TechRevolution, a mobile-first content portal that broadcasts tech information and the latest developments in IT to professionals and enterprise businesses around the world. The portal funnels marketing leads to websites and connects Lenovo executives with potential clients, directly.
Lenovo’s approach with TechRevolution was to provide reliable and useful information to the right people at the right time, to support informed buyer behaviour. In a mere 9 months, the content hub received 3,08,000 link clicks and $30 million in attributable sales.
LeadPages creates and markets landing page templates that are optimized for mobile access and use. As an emerging organisation, it had to compete with industry giants like Infusionsoft and create a niche in the market. To achieve this outcome, it began to post informative blogs on topics like A/B testing and Lead Generation, while conducting weekly webinars on digital marketing. The company’s podcast, ‘ConversionCast’, soon gained popularity and with the interest generated through these efforts, LeadPages became one of the fastest growing companies in the US.
Convergence of B2B and B2C marketing – B2B2C
So is there any overlap between B2C and B2B content marketing at all? The succinct response to that query is, yes, of course. While the target audiences for both kinds of marketing are different, there are subtle similarities in how they should be marketed to. Both types of customers are essentially human after all, and marketers should aspire to an appropriate mix of emotion and rationality in either instance. The trick is to stay true to your brand identity.
Take marketing automation platform and an email marketing service MailChimp, for instance. In order to acquire new users and expand its dedicated customer base, it made a series of fictional short films and songs, playing on the humour inherent in its name. While they were made for business customers in the SMB sector, the interesting videos generated wider curiosity and earned well over a billion ‘hits’ and shares, spreading awareness about the company. This is a case of a more B2C compatible approach being effective in a B2B context.
The overlap between the two kinds of content marketing can be observed in reverse as well. Farmers Insurance, an American insurer providing home, life and automobile insurance, used a strategy similar to the one implemented by Lenovo in the B2B context. The company created a content hub for customers with industry focused research and information that puts rich knowledge at their fingertips. The interface is easy with smooth navigation through prominent buttons and vivid images.
Resolving skin-deep contradictions
So do these counter-arguments leave us with less clarity than when we started? Not quite. Remember our emphasis on context? Recognizing specifics isn’t always a matter of categorizing things as diametrical opposites. It would serve marketers well to remember that customers are people – whether they are making decisions for companies or households. Identifying the distinction between B2C and B2B marketing is more about putting on an appropriate cap. Marketing stratgies need not be viewed in silos, especially with the rise of B2B2C marketing, but they do need to assume an applicable dialect and suitable context.