This week we joined forces with Caliber Brand Strategy + Content Marketing to share their expert knowledge on B2B content marketing in 2020. Figures published by data intelligence company PredictHQ indicate that in February alone, concerns about the coronavirus led to a 500% surge in cancellations and postponements of significant events. Assuming that many marketers will have some extra free time, especially those who are in home isolation, they are advised to use it to review their online marketing strategy and redefine their marketing messages.
Caliber Brand Strategy + Content Marketing is a firm based in Chicago, established since 2012. They’re ideal for professional service firms without marketing departments, guiding them as the virtual CMO to provide a complete marketing system that delivers greater consistency, clarity and customers.
Let’s dive into some of the insights they provided us on B2B content marketing in 2020.
Q1: What is the importance of content marketing in the B2B buying process?
B2B can be a very a complex sale. You don’t just roll up to a website and say, “I’ll take one of those.” That means you need a well-thought strategy for content at every stage of the Buyer’s Journey – Know, Like, Trust, Try and Buy. Not to mention the Repeat and Refer stages that follow post-initial investment.
Q2: What is the biggest change in B2B content marketing in 2020?
Obviously, COVID-19 has an impact none of us can pretend isn’t there, but to me, it’s all the more reason why content that is helpful to your customer is needed to remind them of your agency’s value from a marketing, sales and overall business consulting perspective. In addition, the firms that develop new programs or bring out existing ones at a higher level to serve our world stand to get ahead. Our core offering is marketing programs, but we’ve also spun off a resume writing program, LinkedIn optimization, book writing and training for Marketing Managers. And our self-promotional video work is ramping up more than ever.
Q3: How can an Agency Vista profile be worked into an agency’s content marketing strategy?
Reputation Management is part of content strategy, which includes listings and reviews on 3rd party sites for credibility purposes. Agency Vista is excellent for providing a quick snapshot to prospects on the types of businesses you work with (industry and size), what their budgets tend to be, the number of total reviews you have on the web and more. But I also like Agency Vista’s search engine for helping the right kind of businesses find us faster. With us, it’s not about trying to get more meetings. It’s about working with more ideal clients. The more educated we are about one another in advance, which Agency Vista can help with, the greater the likelihood that we will have a long and satisfying relationship.
Q4: How can a business tell if they have bad content?
I know the answer to this can be rooted in metrics, but my first thought even before any of that is, are you speaking to your prospective customer in verbiage they can appreciate, that speaks to their specific pains or is this just some industry speak that only your peers at a cocktail party understand? Is it some throwaway language pertaining to “XX years of experience” or a “full suite of services.” It offends me when a firm phones it in with stuff like this. Maybe they don’t know what to say or what makes them truly unique. But that’s why you hire a marketing firm like us to find that authentic place in the universe your firm can own and isn’t just whatever sounds good within your own walls.
Q5: How do you measure the effectiveness to your content marketing?
You can measure piece by piece between Google Analytics, Google Search Console and SEMRush, which we do but it’s a bigger picture than that. I’m always fascinated by how people are coming to my client’s brand organically and where in those earlier stages of the buyer’s journey. Sometimes folks focus on the “Buy” stage because it’s right there on the edge of conversion, but they’re missing an opportunity to nurture. If we produce pieces of content that resonate with people by them spending more time on site, downloading key pieces of information and more, that’s a win if it moves people along the cycle, from Know to Like and Like to Trust, etc. We can actually even use call tracking to see what generated a phone call to the business.
Q6: What are the best channels for B2B marketing?
The best channels are the ones we do after a strategy. We’re defined by strategy first, tactics second. Literally one of the products we use is called Strategy First. We’re just not one of those agencies who goes into a place and says, “You should do ____ because it’s the hot thing to do right now.” It’s a bad, one-size-fits-all approach to working with someone and unfortunately, we see it in content from people all the time with articles and videos about “Why you need to be doing (insert tactic here) right now.”
I will say that once you do a strategy to get yourself a roadmap, that roadmap is probably going to need to run through your more “ownable” properties like your website first for deep evaluation. Is that everything it should be? Does the messaging match up with what your audience wants and needs from a solution to their challenges? Is it obvious how you come to the rescue? Is it moving them to take the next reasonable step such as a Discovery meeting? If not, let’s talk about fixing up your house there. Even then we’re still not talking about channels such as social media yet. After all, what’s the point in doing that stuff on the outer edges when you’re leading them back to an unsatisfying experience at your home base?
Q7: In your experience what type of content drives the best ROI?
This is a moving target based on the client and their audience, for sure. I believe it’s content that recognizes there is a complex sale going on that nurtures for one stage and then the next stage and so on. Can a 2,000-word blog post do that for a “Like” stage? Yes. Can a downloadable eBook do that for a “Trust” stage? Yes. So can video at the “Know” stage to educate or the “Buy” stage to immediately thank or upsell upon an initial investment. And so on. I do not believe a client is well served trying to close a deal on one piece of content unless, of course, you’re in that particular stage of the buyer’s journey. Especially in the work we do for people in professional services. It used to be “Hey, let’s run a TV spot or radio ad or place something in the newspaper or magazine.” But you’re really putting your eggs in one basket often there. You can get farther trying to get a lot of singles and doubles rather than trying to swing for the fences with bloated and expensive media buys for content. And on that note, diversify. Your content doesn’t and probably shouldn’t be all in one area of the web.
Q8: What are the best platforms for content curation?
Blogs and other forms of content are a constant part of my world, so I don’t think there’s a week that goes by where I’m not using BuzzSumo. It shares what’s trending for my client’s industry and more, which helps. You can say, “I’m writing on a topic that is literally being shared and talked about right now, so I know there’s great potential for the same to happen when we have our own take on that topic.”
Once you identify a set of topics, there are some other great go-to tools like SEMRush and AnswerThePublic.com to dive in deeper as far as sub-sets of articles and what people are asking in regard to that particular topic.
Q9: How often should a business conduct a competitive analysis?
I definitely think they should be doing it prior to ANY type of marketing effort. But I don’t think that’s just the overarching strategy part they should be doing it for. It’s incredible how much you can learn about a competitor with some of these stealthy weapons to show you the keywords they’re using, the ads they’re running and even their spend. I’m analyzing such changes on a weekly basis. The technology has come such a long way in this particular area, it’s almost scary what you can know about companies that aren’t even public.
If you’re interested to learn more about content marketing during this downtime you can pick up Dan’s latest book, “Content Marketing for Local Search: Create Content That Google Loves and Prospects Devour,” available on Amazon.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about #FeatureFriday and the topics discussed above. If you work at an agency and are interested in being a guest on our #FeatureFriday please reach out to email@example.com.