Why B2B Content Marketing Must Solve a the Problems of the Company and its Employees.
Being a content marketing strategist for the food industry, I have to confess that I enjoy working with B2B companies the most.
It's because there's SO MUCH a B2B company can do in terms of content. And, since you can track the results of it so much easier, the work is much more rewarding.
When working with B2B clients, one thing that I always find myself having to remind them of is to define and incorporated their company values in their overall content marketing strategy. Because, before being able to connect with prospects, a company must truly believe in (and live) the values they are trying to use to connect with them.
It's like the saying, "You have to love yourself before someone else can love you." Your company will never make any real connection through content unless it genuinely believes in its values as a whole.
I believe that this is the primary reason that over half of B2B companies view their content strategy to be only moderately successful. It's also why 15% of them believe that they don't work at all.
If your company hasn't put a significant emphasis on its values yet, it really should. In another article, 6 B2B Food Industry Companies With Winning Content Marketing Strategies, I point out some companies that do just that.
You may be wondering why you need to emphasize company values if your product and customer service track records speak for themselves. The answer is simple; the moniker, B2B, can be a misleading one. Even for those who operate within it. Are businesses selling to a company or a person if a business's target market is other companies?
The answer is both.
Rather, they are selling to multiple people within an organization. Every B2B salesperson and marketer knows there is rarely a large company purchase that doesn't go through multiple approval levels.
Many of those people who are doing the approving are C-Level. They're executives that consider more than if your product or service gets the job done.
Here's a secret, executives are not immune to the effects of good content either.
The Business Side of B2B Content Marketing
Let's say that a food manufacturing company, ACME, is looking to replace a particular type of machine in all of its factories across the nation.
The machinery has to meet two main criteria.
It has to come in at or under budget and meet all of the ROI/depreciation standards established by their finance department.
It has two comply with their sustainability standards that their company has enacted to deliver a more "green" brand image.
Both of these companies meet both criteria for the machinery. SPXFLOW is the winner in terms of cost.
However, ACME has dropped the ball over the years when creating a sustainable and eco-friendly product. All of their competition is ahead of them in this regard. Being viewed as a sustainable company is very important to their C-Level executives and their board.
Now...I ask you to spend a few minutes on these companies' websites. If you were an executive at ACME, would one of these sites immediately stand out to you?
If you said SPXFLOW, you're not 100% on board with your company's sustainability initiative.
Tetra Pak has a main drop-down menu item labeled SUSTAINABILITY. If you access that menu, you then find a wealth of content related to Tetra Pak's core company value of sustainability.
If I were an executive for ACME, I would pay the extra money for the PR to be associated with Tetra Pak. It's because their values are clear, and they want to align with your company's values.
The Human Side to B2B Content Marketing
As I mentioned earlier, your B2B food company is trying to appeal to many decision-makers within another organization.
Even though C-Level executives and board members may have the final say on the big money decisions, they usually aren't the ones in the trenches doing the research.
Buyers and other mid-level managers send options up the ladder. These are the people with the first eyes on your product and company as a whole.
Your company has likely invested a large amount of money into various lead magnets for many products/services. Whether it's white papers, case studies, or free reports, your company needs to be aware of one crucial thing when creating content.
What's important to the company isn't always important to the person.
Companies live and die on things like growth, sales revenue, and employee retention. It's in an employee's best interest to strive to achieve these things for their company. After all, in a well-run company, what benefits the organization benefits the employee.
However, companies are entities, and people are, well, people. What's on a single person's plate within any company on any given day can be overwhelming.
Because most of us do NOT go through our days thinking only about our employer and what's best for them. We think about our health, families, friends, and our ever-growing to-do list that is our lives.
The manager for the ACME food company who came up with the list of food processing equipment manufacturers for his CFO also had all of these things on his mind.
He knew what the company needed. But, how would his recommendations to the CFO go over? Would he get a pat on the back and a potential nod for future promotion? Or would he take the blame if the CFO took the list to the board and they didn't like any of the choices?
Also, would he have time to pick his kid up from soccer practice and be able to mow the lawn that day?
My point, if you haven't gotten it already, is most people that read your content you create about your products are distracted and on edge.
For leads to move from the top of the funnel to the middle, your content needs to help solve the employee's and the company's problems. Both of which may be similar but aren't always the same.
It goes back to your companies values. They have to align with the values of other companies as a whole, but they also have to align with their employees.
Trying to figure this out is where things become more complex.
It's content marketing 101 that you can't and shouldn't try to appeal to everyone. You should only seek out those who like and understand you and your company message.
It's safe to assume that a company and its employees share at least some of the same values. And if they don't, they likely won't remain with that company for long. So you're never trying to bend or change your values based on a specific company or people within a company. Stay true and strong; that's how you get noticed.
What you should be doing with your content is putting a whole lot out there and monitoring it. Not only that, but you should be doing surveys and quizzes about your content. You can easily interact with prospects in this manner after they download a lead magnet.
Ask them why they consumed the content (this is the critical question for sales). Ask about the content and what they found informative or enjoyable. Finally, ask about them and their role with the company. Also, try to get some more personal demographic information.
All of this is EXTREMELY precious data that your company needs to hold onto and analyze. It is crucial for the creation of your company's future content. It will give you ideas for the content itself, and it will also provide ways to tweak your tone and re-purpose prior content.
Above all, remember you create content to guide PEOPLE to make decisions to buy. Steer clear of the marketing speak and industry jargon buzzwords. In the end, using buzzwords and marketing speak only makes your company seem less credible. It wastes the reader's time by having to figure out what you're genuinely trying to say.
If your company is trying to sound like everyone else by using copy that every other company uses, do you think that will make you stand out? No, in fact, it will do quite the opposite.
Always say what you mean and mean what you say, especially when thousands or millions of dollars are on the line.
If your B2B food company is looking to revamp their content strategy or are just starting out, I'd love to help. Contact me, and we can go from there.