Over the course of my career, I have made all of the most common content mistakes—so that you don’t have to! Live and learn: take my quick content quiz, spot and tackle your sins, read more about mine and sign up for our webinar.
By now, most companies have realized the need for good, relevant content to promote their products. Fortunately, they are putting more and more effort into producing it. Every major player has something well thought out to offer and often it is very well written, too.
Modern martech tools and platforms enable targeting like never before. It is clear that the companies know their audiences and that strategy has been considered at least to some extent when the piece was written and produced.
But. In this case “the famous but” means there are plenty of improvements that can be made since some old bad habits seem to overshadow the average B2B marketer, their content strategies and the content itself.
The art of making mistakes
One of the hallmarks of being an expert is that you’ve made mistakes along the way. Very seldom anyone gets to the top with a clean record. Here is my short recap of the past 15 years – measured in the things that have gone awry.
Misleading content – It’s quite easy to go off-topic especially when your product or service isn’t exactly sexy or engaging. If you write off and around the point, you actually miss it, and at the same time you alienate the intended target audience and come across as an amateur to the crowd you were trying to reach and please in the first place.
Too much, too soon – You remember that feeling when you were super proud of the article you just produced? When everyone should be SO lucky to lay their mortal eyes on your sacred text? Surely people are willing to fill out a form and give their details to get a peek at your piece?
Wrong! As we know nowadays, you should give your best content for free. Don’t ask them to marry you on the first date.
Conclusions made too quickly – The top-of-funnel campaign was successful but what was done afterwards wasn’t. This is especially true in B2B where the windows for purchase are determined by budget allocations. So, even if your top-of-funnel leads don’t convert right away, this doesn’t mean that they were cold or that they should be abandoned. Sometimes you just pull the plug too soon and end up wasting good potential leads when it would’ve taken minimal effort to keep them in the loop. Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
What are your sins?
I have noticed that some of the “wrong-doings” I just confessed to appear more often than others. So, I decided to turn my favourite sins into conundrums. Go ahead, take the quiz, connect the dots, find your own sins and tackle them now!
Take a look at the persona description and choose the content or approach best suited for the said customer journey stage.
Billy works in the automotive industry as a purchaser. He’s responsible for buying raw material for different types of car parts. He sticks to his routines rather than looks for new approaches and possibilities.
You want to sell him a new type of material, so you catch Billy’s attention at the awareness stage by:
A) asking him to download a new (24-page) brochure written by a leading expert. The brochure details the technical differences between materials A, B and C in car chassis production, has all the test reports you can imagine – possibly even one covering the best bratwurst places near your shop.
B) promoting a short, quick-to-read article explaining which material is the cheapest option that does the job.
C) providing an eye-catching native marketing news story about your miracle material on a forum probably frequented by Billy.
A) This is great, hardcore bottom-of-funnel content, so it is pointless to offer it at the awareness stage. You will not reach top-funnel goals with it. Rule of thumb – don’t offer in-depth content too early. Billy will be hungry for a good deal (and possibly for bratwurst too) when he is ready to visit your shop. Make him happy and offer him this “e-encyclopedia” later.
B) Good one. As a purchaser, Billy is probably more interested in the costs of the material than technical details. This could work nicely.
C) Native marketing is an excellent way to create awareness, but B2B crowds are often too niche and small for this to work properly, and this can be tricky to achieve. As with all native – if possible, tailor it so that it interests only Billy and people like him to keep costs down, should you take this path.
Jack, 55, is the head of a medium-sized medical lab. The lab analyses test samples, which involves quite a bit of manual work every day, pipetting test assays and using the big analysing machines. Jack is content (pun intended) with the situation, as it does the job – though he’s always looking for ways to improve and at least keep things on a reasonably efficient level.
You sell lab solutions and assays ranging from tiny one-man labs to huge hospital labs. You want to catch Jack’s attention at the awareness stage by:
A) distributing a live video as an Instagram story from the Clinical Lab Expo in Chicago in 2020 with a known speaker in the field, talking about a new assay that enables the detection of a rare disease that could save children all over the world.
B) offering a 3D Lab configurator app that helps to plan an automated dream lab, complete with all the options and assays you have, promoted in LinkedIn and Google.
C) producing an article that is totally, absolutely search engine optimized, to the point where even first graders see it looks like it’s written by a robot, for a robot.
A) Nice idea, but Jack is 55. Good luck finding him on Instagram watching your live feed. Have it placed on a channel where you can get Jack later whenever it suits him, by other means too than just live video. You might want to provide Jack with the means of following your presentation online for free though – just don’t lose the video once you have it!
B) This is cool, interactive content could definitely be used in the right channels. Just be sure to include a way to catch Jack’s email, too! Congrats.
C) This may work in the future when all of us are replaced by autobots. We are still humans though, last time I checked, and my grammar teacher is still alive...
Did any of the examples seem familiar?
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We will also be discussing:
Content strategy and inbound strategy – what's the difference?
- Designing content for top/mid/bottom-of-funnel
- Creating good and effective content on a budget
- Do creativity and metrics fit into the same process?