B2B Content Marketing – Not a Walk in the Park (Part 1)

B2B digital marketing strategies are in dire need of a content-driven approach. This post tells you how B2B content marketing is different.

Consider this. A marketing executive in a B2B firm tracks the trends in his industry and comes to the conclusion that his organization could benefit from content marketing. So he pitches the idea to the CMO, making a great case for content marketing adoption. The CMO agrees and provides overarching principles that his team should follow while making efforts towards the same. The team enthusiastically rolls out a content-driven digital marketing strategy to go about the initiative and starts off the effort in all earnestness. A year later, the team is managing to meet only 30% of their goals, the members are overworked and stressed out and the entire effort seems to be time-intensive and resulting in low impact on target audiences.

Seems familiar? Well, this is the predicament that most B2B marketers find themselves in today. At situations like these, CMOs invariably take a look at the dismal numbers and then decide to abandon the effort assuming that the initiative didn’t work for the organization. But what really needs to be considered in context is if the content marketing strategy that was deployed was suitable for the particular organization or industry.

It is extremely crucial to understand that content marketing works in very different ways for B2B and B2C organizations. B2C is often considered the glamorous end of content marketing where it is seemingly straightforward to lure audiences in with great content. Take for instance Zappos’ digital magazine called ZN. Zappos made a gradual move towards selling more than shoes alone. This shift was reflected in the content in ZN where stories and reviews were woven intelligently. The experience was extended to include provisions for purchase in their iPad app. The initiative brought considerable success.

B2B content marketing, however, is a whole different ball game. The main differences being

  • longer sales cycle in B2B marketing compared to B2C marketing
  • B2B purchase decisions are driven by rationality whereas B2C purchase decisions are driven by emotion. Herein lies the variation in goals of the content
  • B2B content is more relationship-driven than B2C content
  • B2B content is oriented towards specialized information dissemination than B2C. Ex: content marketing for a manufacturing firm.
More on challenges faced by B2B content marketers in the next edition
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