How can you differentiate yourself from your B2B competition? Start by establishing your company as a “go-to” source of valuable content, particularly if products and services in your field are complex and not easily grasped by prospective customers. These customers are hungry for content that directly addresses the challenges they face—and finding that needle of information in a seemingly infinite haystack of online content is a pressing challenge in and of itself.
So how can you provide content that’s both engaging and useful to B2B influencers and decision-makers?
Write from the customer’s perspective. You’re the expert on your product or service and you could probably talk all day about its many exciting features. Businesses that do this on their websites and in their marketing materials lose sight of the fact that this is not what customers are looking for. Effective B2B content focuses almost exclusively on describing the challenges customers face and the solutions your offerings provide. Everything else is filler.
Know your buyer’s pain points, inside and out. If you’re really the “solutions provider” you claim to be, you should know your B2B customers’ problems even better than they do. What challenges are they likely to face in the first quarter of 2014? What supply chain issues should they be thinking about five years out? Customers benefit from this in-depth knowledge of their business and learn to trust a company that’s intimately familiar with their specific concerns.
Listen to what customers and prospects are talking about. One way to access “inside information” about customer concerns is by paying close attention to industry discussions on social forums. These forums offer a wealth of ideas, especially for content that offers answers to the most commonly asked online questions. Your valuable and informative content—whether formatted in a blog, white paper or email piece—takes on the added gloss of being timely in addressing issues being discussed right now.
Leave jargon out. Too much marketing and blog content gets tangled up in an industry’s specialized jargon. True, that techno-talk may impress some prospective customers—it seems to show you really know what you’re talking about—but in general, the more technical your content, the less accessible it is. One suggestion: Ask current customers to describe to you how your product or service works. It’s safe to say they’ll phrase their description in ways you don’t expect—but will prove immensely helpful in your future communications. Remember, people are looking for solutions they can easily understand.
Don’t get too serious. B2B content often veers toward the overly serious and technical side of things. Yes, you’re providing information—but does it have to be so dry? The first place to let your hair down a bit is in your B2B blog. Here it’s perfectly okay to adopt a more informal, conversational tone. Just picture yourself talking with a valued customer one-on-one. Wouldn’t you intersperse the heavy data with an anecdote or two about how your product solved a nagging customer problem? Let your blog show the human side of your business.
Emphasize and demonstrate ROI. It’s one thing to claim your product is the answer to your B2B customer’s dreams. A more effective approach is precisely describing the ROI your customers will receive. Don’t make the assumption this is implicitly understood. Be prepared to spell out the value they’ll gain from doing business with you.
Keep in mind that the value-added B2B content you offer on your company blog can be repurposed elsewhere—as a lead item in your next email newsletter, as a series of brief YouTube videos, as a white paper offered to prospects who register on your website. By maintaining a laser-like focus on your customers’ needs and challenges, you’ll build trust and loyalty for the long run.