B2B Content Marketing Guide, Part 3: The B2B Content Creation Process
This is part 3 of a 6-part series on B2B content marketing. Part 1 explores why content marketing is essential for B2B. Part 2 covers audience research, and then this part explains how to create content. Then part 4 covers paid media strategy, and part 5 covers organic strategy. Lastly, part 6 reviews the crucial importance of the marketing-sales handoff.
Now that research is completed, it is time to start brainstorming. How can you combine everything you now know to create quality content?
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How to Come Up with Ideas for B2B Content Creation
Combine Your Audience and Product Research
Hopefully, initial research and internal discussions generated a starting list of B2B content creation ideas. When we first start working with a client, we almost always begin with an “everything” eBook. We consider this the catchall piece of content that covers everything related to the product. We start by setting the stage of the market and the problem, explain why the prospect would need a solution in that product category, and then explain why this product is the one you need. Note that it’s important not to make this piece too salesy—the idea is to come off as a subject matter expert.
Make your research work for you – combine what you know about your audience with your internal expertise for incredible B2B content creation.
Take a Peek at Keywords
While search engine optimization (SEO) is typically considered a promotion tactic, the strategies used to generate SEO keywords can also help guide you in figuring out the topics your target audience is researching. You can research keywords using tools like KWFinder (our personal favorite) or Google Trends. Ultimately, down the line, the research you do on SEO can be used to promote your content organically.
Although paid campaigns utilize a different strategy, SEO can provide insight into your prospects’ interests.
Think About Where You’re Focusing in the Funnel
A comprehensive strategy requires B2B content creation that targets each stage of the buying funnel. When considering content topics, make sure they align with the funnel stage you’re trying to target. (More on this on this in part 5).
An effective B2B content creation strategy ultimately has to hit every part of the funnel.
Exploring Different Types of Content
A common question we hear from clients getting started with content marketing is, “What format should I create my content in?”
We recommend starting with a large piece of hero content. It takes a lot of work initially, but it can ultimately be used as a jumping-off point to create smaller, more focused content pieces that target each sales funnel stage. Here are some of our favorite content formats:
eBooks are a great way to get initial content to new prospects. Having a 10+ page eBook on virtually any technical subject will present you as an expert. The best part about eBooks is that they can be sliced and diced into SEO-specific blog posts, datasheets, case studies, and other collateral. Plus, the sales team can use the email leads generated to contact the top prospects they are interested in.
It is our favorite type of content – if you want to see some samples of what we are talking about…
Like ebooks, white papers tend to be shorter (under five pages) and follow a more faux-academic style with footnotes and outside data sources. As a result, they are more copy-dense with less skimmable elements but can be a great way to focus on a specific industry concept or problem.
If you’re going to do a webinar, come to terms with the fact that 99.99% of prospects have no interest in attending a webinar to “learn more about a product or service.” So, pick a topic that is more broadly interesting. Webinars work best when they focus on a topical issue or how to solve a common problem using tool-agnostic techniques. You can talk about how your brand helps with this at the very end—but keep it short and relevant to the topic.
Don’t Make It About You
Everyone’s first instinct when it comes to B2B content creation is to make a beautiful sales brochure or webinar pitch that touts the benefits of your product—don’t do it!
This hero content should focus on solving a common problem, optimizing a process, or improving ROI.
You can mention that your company offers a relevant solution, but this should only be included at the very end.
Blog posts fall into three main categories: news (product updates, press releases, event info, etc.), thought leadership that outlines your methods or philosophies, and SEO-optimized pieces. Each category is separate and should be treated as such. News is for current customers, employees, and partners; thought leadership is for the larger industry as a whole (and even with a ton of resources invested, you could have no success); and SEO focuses on keywords to bring in prospective customers. We find that it makes the most sense to focus B2B content creation efforts on SEO blogs since those can be used to promote eBooks, webinars, and special offers and are designed to bring in new traffic and new leads.
This is incredibly broad, but it is essentially creating a simple tool that helps people consider how the solution can help them. This can range from pricing and ROI calculators to sandbox environments for trying out the software. It works well as a mid-funnel CTA that can lead to a demo or increased interest in your product.
Over the last few years, our attention spans have decreased significantly. According to Microsoft, you’ll receive a mere 8 seconds of focused attention from prospects—that’s down from the 12-second attention span most people had at the turn of the century. Video content can help keep prospective customers engaged; however, consumers have to keep their eyes and ears focused on the message, so make sure it’s a compelling one.
Podcasts can be a great way to reach a niche audience. However, compared to the other content formats, this one is probably the most labor-intensive. You have to commit to building not only an audience over time but also an ongoing calendar for discussion topics. However, if you can commit to it, it can have a massive payoff as content that prospects will openly engage with—and potentially even forward to their colleagues.
Work (and Rework) That Content
Use those big pieces of content to make little pieces of content (without that much extra work).
This is probably our favorite B2B content creation reuse strategy:
- Write a hero piece
- Split it into sections
- Complete research to find a relevant keyword
- Slightly rework/rewrite that section incorporating the target keyword
- Offer the hero piece as a CTA with “for more information on [insert topic], download the complete guide.”