How to put a B2B content strategy into practice

There’s no question that content marketing is a key discipline in this era of marketing. In B2C, content is about building brand engagement and commitment. In B2B, it’s about demonstrating relevance to each person in the buying process.

But knowing this and translating it into action—systematically and pervasively—is the challenge. In earlier posts, Rob Cosentino wrote about the steps involved in building a content strategy. Today, I’m going to extend his thoughts and describe some key strategic components that will help you put that strategy into practice.

Content must have relevance to a specific target or person

The best content is put together with a clear purpose for a specific target. Much like a form letter being the least effective communication for a sales person, generic content requires the reader to bridge the gap on their own. How often are you willing to do that and for what type of information?

This is why salespeople spend time fully personalizing their customer communications. And while fully customized content is just not viable, focusing efforts is critical. As you’re developing content, keep two key aspects in mind:

  • Each piece of content should have a specific audience or target persona in mind. In short, how and how much you say to an executive is very different than how you generate interest from a practitioner. Likewise, the same product might have very different use cases or characteristics when your teams view it through different lenses.
  • Prospects respond very favorably to content imbued with market and segment knowledge. As one study showed, more than 92% of respondents said they would read materials relevant to their business, even if they had not previously done business with them. Demonstrating that you understand a particular market or population is a necessary step.

In short, if you see content—whether a white paper, a video, an ad or a social media post—and you can’t pin down the specifics of the audience, target and persona, it’s pretty darn likely that your targets won’t either.

There are multiple roles in the content supply chain

In our experience, most people realize that there are many different types of content and that different team members will create content across the organization. They also realize that, increasingly, much content actually comes from customers and partners. The challenge is that not all content is created equally—some is foundational and long-lived, some is related to a given event or time period and some is intended to be situational or fleeting. To make sense of this, we believe that there are multiple roles teams need to embrace:

  • Core: These people create the most foundational materials around offerings. While these may be the most product-centric, they are also tasked with building the materials needed for the other two groups. Where needed, core creation might include market and segment specifics, especially if these were part of original research.
  • Adaptation: These individuals are responsible for taking the core content and applying it across all appropriate sales and marketing channels. In B2C environments, these might include agencies that build multichannel campaigns based on a creative brief driven by core content. In a B2B context, this might be a social media specialist driving technology conversations again based on topics and positions laid out within core deliverables.
  • Editor: These people have a complex and broad role within the supply chain. They must initially ensure that core content meets the needs of those who plan to adapt their content. In that, they act as a both a quality check and a content broker. As you’ll read below, they are a critical audience for content tracking and analytics, helping them provide objective feedback to others.

Interestingly enough, these roles can end up being played by a variety of people in diverse roles. An editor could be in a marketing communications function, but is just as easily a product marketing manager with a strong need to manage the message and flow of information. What is critical is that teams set appropriate expectations across a given product line, business segment or company to maximize the creation and dissemination of the best content, while minimizing both friction and rework.