Last year I completed my fifth full year as a B2B Marketer. Much has changed in this half-decade.
When I first started there was a growing movement: “B2B marketing doesn’t have to be boring.”
Now we have finally moved on to « B2B Marketing can’t afford to be boring. We finally recognized that B2B buyers are people – they want useful information, they want to be entertained and they are just as bored by white papers loaded with corporate speeches as everyone else.
To our credit, I think the marketers already knew that. You just had to convince the rest of the organization.
For the most part, we marketers have more latitude in choosing the best way to reach our audience. And, of course, with that freedom comes responsibility.
How? ‘Or’ What make have we reached the sweet spot of what our audience wants to hear and what our brand is trying to convey? How can we give them this value which inspires reciprocity?
Here’s how B2B marketers can get closer to their audience in 2021.
# 1: ask the sales team
Let’s make 2021 the year we definitely give up the sales mindset over marketing. A closer alignment among members of the Revenue Squad can only benefit everyone.
The sales team has a wealth of information about your target audience. They are the ones who take meetings, answer questions, discuss one-to-one with members of the purchasing committee.
In short, sales can tell you where the sticking points are, where more persuasion is needed, and what kind of content ultimately makes people buy. Close alignment with sales will make your content more relevant to your audience and more useful to your sales team.
# 2: flip the script on SEO
Do you still think of SEO as “the way to get search engines to recommend our content?” If so, it’s time to update that mindset.
The most valuable function of keyword research today is determining what humans are looking for and how these requests are formulated. It’s about guiding content creation to meet your audience’s demand, from planning stages to execution.
The best SEO strategy is to create content that genuinely meets – and exceeds – the needs of your audience. If your content doesn’t meet a proven need, no amount of keyword stuffing or H1 markup will give it visibility.
Use your keyword research to understand your audience. What do they want? How do they try to find him? How can you be the best answer?
# 3: broaden your horizons
B2B buyers don’t spend their entire waking life thinking about work. If we want to know our audiences better, we also need to think about the larger context of their lives.
When we see our potential buyers in a more holistic way, we have a much larger canvas for relevant content. We can talk about maintaining work-life balance, the challenges of working remotely, and even the challenges that working parents face in their relationships with their children.
Any topic of content is relevant, provided that 1) Your employees or brand have expertise in it, and 2) It serves to improve the lives of your audience in a meaningful way.
If you’ve been stuck in writing « X other reasons why you should try our solution » style content, let that larger context inspire you to write more useful, useful content that takes everyone into account.
# 4: explore the influence
At the heart of it, marketers are trying to gain people’s attention. It makes perfect sense to take lessons from people who have already captured that interest – people who already engage and serve your target audience.
Tools like Traackr and Buzzsumo can help you determine which voices your audience is listening to. From there, you can see what kind of content they’re creating, how they’re capturing interest, and let that influence your own content creation.
And, of course, you can take it to the next level: co-create content with these influencers and directly reach their audience (see our State of B2B influencer marketing 2020 report for more).
# 5: above all, be helpful
When we view our target audience as people, rather than B2B buyers (or a target audience, for that matter), we can begin to practice truly radical empathy. Not just empathy that allows us to walk in someone’s shoes long enough to sell them something.
I mean the kind of empathy that leads us to find out how to improve their personal and professional lives, to be truly useful, to uplift people because we care about them. Content that serves this purpose is guaranteed to bring you and your customers closer together.
And, of course, helping people and caring about their success is a great way to gain attention, build relationships, and develop long-standing loyalty to your brand.
In fact, this may be the only way left for us to do all of the above.
Need help creating content that brings you closer to your customers? We have what you need.