Marketing StrategyThe Future of Content

B2B Content Marketing Doesn’t Have To Be Boring

By February 26, 2014 No Comments

Source: Flickr, Diane Yuri

One of the biggest challenges B2B companies face is coming up with compelling content topics.

While these stumped marketing teams may be sold on the idea of content marketing, the practice still eludes many. And it’s hard to blame them. Coming up with exciting content about seemingly “boring” industries like shipping, printing, cloud computing, and logistics isn’t obvious. But it’s very possible.

When it comes to content marketing, there isn’t a huge difference between B2B and B2C. Everybody is human. The people researching the products are human. The people selling the products are human. The problems the products solve are human.

The job of content in the exchange between seller and buyer is to deliver a compelling story that supports that transaction.

“The job of content in the exchange…is to deliver a compelling story that supports that transaction.”

How do B2B content marketers find these stories? Sometimes they have to look no farther than their product.  I know that’s not something content marketers are used to hearing. We’re often encouraged to steer away from any mention of our product for fear of being too pushy or sales-oriented. But product-centered content doesn’t always have to be self-centered content. Here are a few tactics that reveal how product stories can engage and inspire your prospects:

Become a Historian

Many B2B companies are rich with history. There are a lot of forgotten tales to tell. Dig them up, and you might be amazed at the fascinating stuff you find.

If your company has been around a while, take a peek into the archive. Look for photos of milestone moments and company events. Uncover old news articles and press releases. Find pictures of the earliest products or sketches.

Think about the historical moments and assets you find from the perspective of your buyers. How can you present this story in a compelling way? What elements will they find most interesting?  What do these old milestones reveal about the time and place in which they happened?

If your company is relatively new, turn instead to your industry’s history. Publish photos of the first printer or old shipyards. Research industry news and breakthrough technologies. Feature surprising anecdotes. Putting your history hat on is one of the best, low-cost ways to finding stories that influence.

UPS features industry history and a time capsule on their homepage:

Listen To Your Customers

Product teams know that your existing customers are the key to making your company better. They are the ones using your product, and they are the ones who have an intimate understanding of how it could be better.

Some of the very best stories can emerge from talking to them. Dig into feedback channels. Listen to fans and followers on social media. Respond to their questions and address their concerns. Then document how you did it.  Potential consumers are going to be extremely interested in notable stories of customer service.  Why not share them.

To get inspired about what kinds of stories to feature, check out HelpScout’s “10 Stories of Unforgettable Customer Service

Document Your Product

A lot of B2B products are pretty impressive. But do potential buyers really understand what your company does? The more complex your product or industry, the more valuable simplification and clarity can be.

“The more complex your product or industry, the more valuable simplification and clarity can be.”

Shipping companies, for example, could track a package they were responsible for delivering or produce a slideshow of captivating pictures along their delivery route. Technology companies could host a product demo webinar or develop an infographic that reveals what how their service works in laymen’s terms. Brainstorm ideas with your product team to figure out what kinds of things you can feature that will address customer pain points and give prospects a behind-the-scenes look at how you get it done.

Maersk Line, a B2B leader in social media, exploited the fact that their brand is so widely recognizable by starting a #maersk shipping trend on Instagram. When people around the world see a Maersk container in the street or see one of their ships at sea, the brand encouraged spotters to shoot a photo with their phone and share it. This kind of collaborative initiative engaged thousands of followers on the platform, and allowed Maersk to create beautiful mosaics of these snapshots:

There are a lot of B2B companies out there putting these tactics and others into practice. Reading through their funny and engaging stories is a great way to get inspired.  Resolving yourself to the idea that B2B content has to be a snooze-fest is just lazy marketing. At relatively no cost, you can find engaging stories to tell. It’s just a matter of shifting your perspective and sifting through the stories right under your nose.

Liz O'Neill Dennison

About Liz O'Neill Dennison

Liz is a former Content Marketing Manager at Kapost. She's psyched about human-friendly content, beekeeping, and playing outside. Reach her at @lizkoneill.