B2B content strategy: a five-point plan

Head of Business Development Alex Segger explains why all roads to good content start with a plan aligned to your audience.

Imagine you’re at a Rolling Stones gig (remember those?). The audience is on top form. Mick is on stage. The anticipation in the air is electric. And... every song is from the new album. 

Satisfaction? I can’t get no.

It’s a classic case of the artist failing to read its audience. 

One third of marketers have prioritised building an audience post COVID. But where do you start? The temptation is to focus on quantity over quality when creating content for your customers. The ‘throw enough content at the wall and something will stick’ approach.

But audiences are discerning. They are giving up their valuable time after all. For content to land, it must speak to them. Address their pain points. Say something new. This requires detailed understanding of your customers and how your products and services meet their needs. 

It requires a plan.

Scattergun content plans satisfy the ego of the writer as opposed to the needs of the customer (and the business objectives). These are a waste of time and a waste of money. 

After all, times are only getting more challenging for marketers. We live in the era of diminishing marketing budgets and increased pressure on proving your ROI. According to our report B2B Marketing. Solved, 71% of marketers are being asked to do more with less. There is no time, and even less money, to waste on frivolous content.

For content to land with your customers it requires a strategy aligned to your business objectives. It requires work. It requires delving into your business and extracting the information you require from product experts and sales teams. It is a collaboration. And here’s how we do it:

Stakeholder alignment

How often do you get all your key stakeholders together? Pre-pandemic, this meant cramming everyone into a meeting room. Post-pandemic, it’s a jam-packed zoom call. On the surface, it doesn’t seem conducive to building stronger cross-function relationships. However, it is still a worthwhile exercise. 

The point of these meetings is to meet your product experts. Engage them in the content-planning process. Pick the key information from their brains as to what they want and need content to do for them.  

This group will be your interviewees. Your second pairs of eyes. The group that will keep your content true to the needs of the customer and overall business goals of the business. The best friend who tells you that you should no longer be wearing ripped jeans, if you will. 

Audience profiling

Identifying your target audience is the next step. A clear picture of your reader will not only help you come up with content ideas, it will help define your tone of voice. Who are these people? How do they want to be spoken to? Do they want to be spoken to in technical terms? Or will a more relaxed tone be more appropriate?

That doesn’t mean you can drop the c-bomb left, right, and centre. But, it’s important to remember these are real people that you are speaking to. It’s a matter of grouping and defining your audience.

Personas can be divisive. While they may be one marketer’s gold standard, they are another’s waste of time. But don’t underestimate the power of the process of creating personas. It requires sitting down with your product experts, your sales team and other interested stakeholders. This process will throw up many content ideas that can form the centre of your content plan.

Messaging framework

The messaging framework brings together the outcomes of the stakeholder alignment and persona work. It is a great tool for new starters in a business as it distils the key information about a product or service into a one-pager. For each product or service, it will identify:

  • Target audience (personas)

  • Value proposition (product elevator pitch)

  • Customer challenges (drawn from personas)

  • Messaging pillars (key benefits of your product or service)

This handbook also provides your writers the baseline information they require when writing about your products or services. 

Content style guide

If someone speaks Spanish, would you speak to them in French? Talk to your customers in the way they wish to be spoken to. For some industries this can mean technical language, for others it means an informal tone. Having a defined tone of voice will ensure consistency in content, regardless of the author. 

Content programme blueprint

Journalists are taught to use the inverted pyramid when writing news articles: distil the story down into the most important information and lead with this. Each subsequent paragraph adds detail to the story. The idea being that the reader can stop at any point and have a clear idea of the story being told.

The same approach should be applied to your content programme blueprint. What is the key message you want to put into the market? When? And how does this messaging trickle down across your different channels across the year? This document lays out your content roadmap. From the hero pieces of content (research reports, lead-generating whitepapers, webinars, events and so on) down to your blogs, social posts and paid promotion.

The goal should be to ladder up your assets to the overarching campaign. The hub and spoke model — with the focus on a hero piece of content and your supporting channels promoting it. Efficiency is key. How can you wring every last drop of value from your hero content? 

Gone are the days of creating enormous quantities of unrelated content. Covid has nailed the coffin closed on that approach. Focus your content efforts on the products / services that align with your personas, messaging hierarchy and, most importantly, your overall business objectives.

Build yourself a team of experts within the company. They are great resource, sounding board and promoters for your hard work. More importantly, look for an agency that is willing to go through this process with you.

Don’t clear the stadium by ignoring your audience. Keep your content ‘playlist’ tight and relevant and hold your audience’s attention until the encore.

Want to get some structure to your content? Call us on 020 3877 3800 or email us at contact@alan-agency.com to speak to one of our specialists about how we can help you build a content plan aligned to your business goals.

The power of storytelling Webinar: 13 April 2021 at 14:00 BST

Stories are and have always been a vital part of human experience – the ability to construct stories that draw the reader in, expand their thinking and deliver value to them is an important skill for B2B tech marketers. But where do you start in order to tell a really good story?

Join us on 13 April at 2pm BST to hear how B2B tech brands can stand out by leveraging the power of storytelling. Register here.

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