So what is your most valuable asset in B2B marketing? And how can that asset can be used to deliver the maximum possible advantage to your business?
I’d argue that your expertise is your greatest marketing asset. After all, it’s why your existing customers stay with you – they know they can bring you a problem and they can trust you to provide the solution. And if your expertise is so powerful in growing business with existing customers , doesn’t it seem logical that it should also be a powerful factor in persuading new customers to do business with you?
But how well do you leverage that expertise when it comes to creating leads and winning new business?
One way of getting new business, of course, is to pound the phones. Set up as many appointments as you can and gradually filter the field down from leads and prospects to potential sales. Again, success will come down to how well you can apply your expertise to would-be customers’ needs.
The other way to capitalise on your expertise – potentially more productive and less painful – is through publishing content.
Acknowledged expertise, trust, authority, call it what you will – on-line B2B marketing and business development is largely about how you apply your expertise to potential customers’ needs. In the on-line marketing world it’s also about how you use that process of applying expertise to customers’ needs to generate interest, understanding and trust, and how you convert those factors into sales.
Why do businesses buy anything?
Let’s start with a stark reality. In the B2B world nobody would buy anything if that was possible. Nobody really wants to buy our services or products. That means spending money; and as businesspeople we avoid that wherever possible. What businesses have are problems and ambitions. And they are only interested in buying solutions to those problems and ways of achieving those ambitions.
The good news for on-line marketers is that people increasingly turn to the internet looking for answers and solutions. So, populate your on-line presence with relevant answers and your potential customers will find you and engage with you. Obviously there’s a bit more to it than that but for B2B marketing this basic understanding should be what underpins your on-line marketing strategy. Which brings us back to content.
What content should you publish?
This is a common stumbling block for businesses even after they get the message about content marketing. The answer to this is not always easy to find. You have to think long and hard, and possibly commission research to help you understand the answers your potential customers are seeking.
Once you have that understanding, matching those issues to the specific expertise you can offer will lead you towards a rich seam of valuable content. Headline writing, for one thing, will become less of a chore because you’ll understand the issues and specific words that will get the attention of the people you want to engage.
Ultimately your authority and trust will grow as you use your content and your expertise to help people solve problems and achieve their ambitions. Which also means you have to go beyond superficial information sharing and offer content with real substance and genuine insight.
And, of course, content doesn’t just appear because you’ve identified that you need it. There still has to be a publishing plan: the who, what, where and when. Responsibilities have to be assigned and time has to be scheduled. But all of this is easier when you have clear objectives and a sense of purpose.
Is publishing enough?
Well, not really. The greatest content in the world won’t help you much if nobody sees it. Promotion, or content amplification is crucially important. And this means much more than just tweeting links to what you’ve published. You need a concerted strategy for building social media and influencer networks to give your content visibility and ensure it gets shared, liked, +1’d and commented on.
Google also loves your expertise
And now for the really good news. Google is increasingly concerned with interpreting what people are really looking for when they type a search query and with providing relevant answers from sources with high authority. Ultimately, this ‘semantic search’ process will matter much more than matching exact strings of keywords in determining what shows up in an individual search engine results page (SERP).
Content focused on delivering meaningful answers, based on your expertise is not only sound marketing practice, it’s also going to be increasingly good for getting found in searches. If you want to understand semantic search and where Google is heading a bit better have a look at this short video from David Amerland.
Businesses that have relied on old-style SEO practices of all colours are finding that they no longer guarantee a high ranking. Without a robust content plan they’re seeing their rankings slide and SEO businesses are focusing increasingly on content and PR alongside the technical aspects of SEO.
So if you want to give your on-line marketing a bit of direction think about these points:
- Who are the most likely customers for what you sell?
- What are their biggest challenges?
- How can your expertise help them survive and grow?
- What sort of content could you create to help them access (and appreciate) your expertise?
- How are you going to make sure they notice that content?
Richard Hussey, Copywriter and B2B Content Marketer
Want to explore these ideas in more detail and create a workable content strategy?
Come to the Content Masterclass, Exeter July 1