Many B2B companies think of content as merely an extension of their product catalog and a way to share features, specifications, and hopefully some benefits.
But content is so much more. Your content is a window into your thinking and
mindset relating to three key ideas:
Are your prospect and customer a person to be sold or someone that needs your help?
Are they a name on a list to be checked off or a person with specific concerns that you can address?
Do you really understand the person you are working with, or are you just trying to complete the sale, ring the bell, or cash the commission check?
A good test is to ask yourself this question - If someone said they wanted to buy from us and I knew they would not have a good experience because they are not a good fit, would I tell them, or would I take the sale anyway?
Another good test I use when evaluating prospects for my business is to look at their website. Do I see content talking about the customer and their issues, or do I see a digital list of products and specifications? Is the language from the visitor's point of view (you, your, others like you), or is the tone all self-focused (we, our, us)?
Your content comes from the way you and your team think. If you outsource your content creation, you run an even higher risk of being product-centric and not customer-centric. Why? Your agency or contractor will never know your audience as you do, so they will fall back on what is easy to understand and produce - piles of repetitive internally focused product content.
If you put your customer's well-being ahead of everything - this is a mission and culture-driven effort - then your content will reflect that mindset. If your mission is about helping your ideal buyer, then your content will be helpful, centered on their issues and how you create specific value for them. Your product shows up way down the list - your value from their perspective takes center stage.
Do you feel that it is your obligation to reach out to and connect with your ideal buyers because you KNOW that you can improve their situation, and their world, help them achieve their goals, and create unique value for them?
If you do not see yourself as the value-adding resource in your space, what do you see yourself?
I always wonder what people that set up spam emails and context-less cold call sequences think of their customers. Do they think they are helpful, interesting, and engaging? Do they ever internalize how annoying they are? How profoundly unhelpful they are when they interrupt me and have no idea how to engage me with a valuable message.
When you know what your value is and who needs it the most, your content reflects these ideas and becomes an object of attraction and interest. I want to read articles and watch videos that help me understand how to grow a manufacturing business. I desire the opportunity to listen to a podcast with an expert who knows how to connect with a B2B audience. I look for people that know how to grow a consulting and coaching business.
If you know your value and your ideal audience, your content will be sought after and consumed willingly.
If you think you can force-feed me your pitch and get me to engage with you in a sales process or schedule that 15-minute meeting, guess again.
Does your company believe in anything? A view of the world? A positioning that says your team is there to make something better?
Marketing and sales today are a lot about connecting with people on a human level and finding common values and beliefs. People buy from people they like. People also buy from companies that share their values, beliefs, and world views.
Today marketing and much of sales should be made by your customers. For many businesses, their fans are the best storytellers about their company and will drive the most credible promotion possible. David Meerman Scott's new book, "Fanocracy: Turning Fans Into Customers and Customers Into Fans" describes what it takes to build a customer base that is also your fan base.
But wait, you say, we are a B2B industrial company, so we still market and sell the old-fashioned way - go to trade shows, run ads in trade journals, and sell face-to-face. Maybe you do, and maybe that still works, but I see it is not delivering a return near previous levels in more and more cases.
Putting the needs and desires, and concerns of your ideal audience first and then creating content that reflects that belief will give your content a chance to start the process of creating fans for your business. Yes, you need great products, great designs, high quality, appropriate pricing, great manufacturing processes, and all of the other things that make your company great.
But you need more. You need to believe that they come first. You need to make decisions based on them. You need to organize your work focused on them. If you put them first, then your content will reflect that mindset.