For many content marketing agencies, marketing directly to consumers has been the primary focus of their clients. However, that is changing. 81% of buyers say that their business' purchasing process begins by searching the Internet. Many buyers are following industry trends on their social media accounts. Business to business marketing is undergoing the same digital transition as consumer marketing. This is great news for your content marketing agency because your business opportunities are expanding. You can now create marketing strategies and content for B2B clients.
While the fundamentals of content marketing are the same, producing content strategies for B2B customers may require some adjustment on your part. Here are three things to remember before tackling content for your B2B clients:
Longer Buying Process
Consumers can make decisions fairly rapidly, even decisions involving substantial investments. Businesses, on the other hand, have a more involved buying process. It takes longer for businesses to make a purchase. In addition, many purchases involve service contracts that last for a long time, so the business may not be able to simply opt for new services whenever it wants. For example, if a business has a contract with a printing service that involves renting copiers and printers, it may have a two or three year contract. If a business is at the beginning or middle of this contract, it may not be in a position to consider competitors for some time.
This makes lead generation and lead nurturing an important part of B2B marketing. When buyers interact with your client's content, they may only be kicking the tires and doing research in anticipation of the end of their current contract. They may not be ready to buy for another 18 months. Your content may capture the important information about this prospect, but instead of passing this information directly to the sales team, it should go to a lead nurturing program. The prospect should continue to receive emails, news items and technical information about your client without attempting to sell the product. Good CRM software can identify when a prospect that has been in the lead nurturing process starts to exhibit behavior that shows that he is ready to make a purchase. Then the information can go to the sales team for them to make the connection.
More Involved Decision Making Process
Businesses may have multiple people in different departments involved in the decision making process for the purchase. For example, a company that sells medical devices to hospitals and research facilities may have to deal with doctors, technicians, buyers and administrators in order to win a contract. Each of these people will have different concerns, goals and interests to promote in the purchasing process. A content marketing agency will have to produce content targeted at each of these different groups in order to succeed. The key to working with B2B clients is to understand the different audiences that might be involved in the purchasing process and create content that appeals to each of these different audiences.
While much of content marketing aims at offering solutions to problems, consumers tend to want more entertaining content and make decisions based on emotional factors. Businesses, on the other hand, have different motivations to purchase. They are looking for solid solutions to their problems. Your agency must provide this content. You have to start by offering the practical benefits that your client's products and services can offer without the emotional sugarcoating that is sometimes found in consumer-oriented content marketing. Your content must demonstrate that your client is an expert in the field who can be trusted to provide effective solutions to their customer's problems. This involves establishing real thought leadership in the field. You will have to interview your client's technical and sales staff in order to create content that is technically rich enough to attract the prospect's interest.
In addition, your content can support the sales team. By interviewing your client's salespeople, you can find out what questions they are constantly answering and what objections they often face. Then you can produce content that addresses these questions and objections. The salespeople can then refer prospects to this content instead of constantly answering the same questions.
Content marketing is not just for businesses selling to consumers. It is also very effective in B2B marketing. With just a few adjustments, your agency will be ready to take on B2B clients and tackle their content needs.