Content Marketing Strategy for B2B with Doug Kessler @dougkessler #vcbuzz

Content Marketing Strategy for B2B with Doug Kessler @dougkessler #vcbuzz

Content strategy is fundamental to any marketing effort in any niche including B2B.

But how is content strategy different for a B2B company? How to make it work?

Let’s discuss!

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About Doug

Doug Kessler @dougkessler is creative director and co-founder of Velocity, B2B marketing agency to the stars.

His answer to why he’s spent so many years doing B2B (and loving it) is summarized in a quick slideshare called The Search for Meaning in B2B.

Questions we are discussing now

Q1 How did you become a digital marketer? Please share your career story!

I started as an analog marketer (kind of a Mad Men thing) at Ogilvy New York (in 1983, FFS). Went into B2B like moth to flame. Founded Velocity with smart-but-grumpy Stan Woods in 2008. Never looked back (well, sometimes).

When digital hit, it was like standing with one foot on a dock and the other on a boat that was drifting out into an unknown sea. Reader, I jumped (in). SO glad I did. Now there’s @velocitytweets to show for it.

In the early stages, digital B2B just meant email and websites. Then Search and Social. Then content marketing was a huge leap (we were lucky to be early into it). Then Marketing Automation… performance marketing… ABM…

It’s been an amazing Collective Learning Curve for the entire discipline for a few decades now. And the pace of change just keeps accelerating.

What the HECK is coming next in digital B2B marketing? Maybe @acrestodino knows. Or @chiefmartec or @nstoneman or @dharmesh or @Robert_Rose. They might know… I do NOT know.

Q2 Why is content important for a B2B business? Which goals should B2B businesses set when starting a content strategy?

Hard to imagine what a content-free B2B brand would look like. I think of B2B marketing as customer service for people who aren’t yet customers. Content is about using your expertise to help them succeed.

Content is also so important because, as @jonmiller says, you need to bring value every stage of the buying journey. Instead of asking for stuff at every step, you give stuff. That’s got to be right.

As for starting: I’d always start with your business goals– your marketing goals come from these and your content goals come next. Like Russian dolls. If the biz goals are clear, things flow naturally from there.

Hard to imagine not having the goal of positioning your company as expert partners–and content is perfect for that. Other common ones: market education, traffic (via SEO and social), awareness…

Tons of content out there doesn’t look like it was made for any clear goal–except maybe to please a stakeholder or fill in the gap in a Buying Journey/Persona matric.

Would be cool to hire a content person and just brief them to Help our Prospects Succeed. Nothing else…

Content’ is such a funny word for it, isn’t it? I mean what IS it? “That which fills a container”. Weird.

Q3 How is B2B content marketing different from B2C content marketing?

Big buying teams means mapping messages and content to different roles–but these can’t be siloed stories. They need to lock together into one cohesive case.

Long buying cycles means content needs to do different jobs at different stages. Top-funnel content may not even mention your product. Bottom-funnel may be a deep-dive product demo.

B2B and B2C overlap. High-consideration categories like cars and mortgages act more like B2B than some software that one business person can buy on their credit card — or try for free.

Sometimes I envy B2C digital marketers in, like, travel or e-commerce. When they see intent, it’s like minutes away from a purchase. So fast. Clicks are MONEY for them. For B2B a click may just be a buyer inching forward one tiny bit…

We’ve had clients that had a B2B business as part of a much bigger B2C business. It’s really interesting to see how the B2C culture shapes B2B decisions. Can be really hard to change that DNA.

I do like stealing some tricks from B2C marketers. They get the power of emotion so much more than most B2B brands.

I’d love for B2B brands to do content thatsimply celebrates a core belief–nothing more. Just that one thing.

Q4 What’s your favorite top-of-the-funnel content tactic that works particularly well in B2B?

I love big, emotional rants against some obstacle that’s preventing your prospects’ success. Delivered in some kind of digital experience. We did one called A Stakeholder Through the Heart. Really fun to do.

When slideshare was a thing, I loved it as a linear storytelling medium. BIg TOFU rants like Crap and The Search for Meaning in B2B did really well for us.

More recently, we did a String (our own version of slideshare on steroids) for Hubspot on Conversational Marketing that I’m still proud of.

I’d love to see more digital-first content for top-of-funnnel. Stuff that’s made for the screen, not the printed page. The Gutenberg era started 550 years ago… But we’re still making PDFs and white papers and articles…

You know who’s doing amazing digital-first content? The New York Times. I’m in awe of the way the NYTimes learned digital and then leapfrogged everyone else–especially the so-called digital natives like Buzzfeed and HuffPo…

I also love Education as marketing content, at all stages of the buying journey. Proper, chunky courseware that aims to teach the stuff that matters most. As our friends at @beyond say, the best B2B brands are the best teachers.

Leaders in B2B customer education: @hubspotacademy@trailhead@FBBusiness (Facebook Blueprint)…

Q5 What are your favorite B2B content marketing tools?

Fave Content mktg tools? Pencil, paper and mind map… Then G-docs… Slack… WordPress… Google Analytics… then back to pencil, paper and mind-map.

For SEO, I really like @answerthepublic. So simple.

I tried Grammarly but didn’t get on with it… Kept arguing…

For huge content marketing programs that need some kind og governance and quality control, @acrolinx is pretty amazing. An enterprise thing though.

Anyone using @SparkToro for audience research? A super-powerful tool I haven’t mastered yet. But I do see bigvalue in it. Offers a free version too…

@PathFactory is a cool content activation platform. Instead of pushing people to a single piece of content, you get them on a track, with each piece leading to the next. (Disclosure: we re-named them a few years back)…

Our previous B2B content marketing chats:


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