B2B companies have been loosening their figurative ties in the past few years, and most everybody is breathing a sigh of relief.
But for content marketers, it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s great news that we no longer need to fill our blog posts with meaningless jargon and clunky technical terms.
On the other hand, we have a lot of possibilities and no real roadmap or set of guidelines that let us know we’re doing the right thing.
For big companies, this isn’t a concern. They can afford to take risks and don’t even have to worry about whether their efforts directly impact sales.
For smaller, leaner businesses, investing tons of money in “viral” content that gets tons of traffic from random people who have zero interest in actually buying your company’s product isn’t a sustainable strategy. Especially if you have limited content marketing resources, you don’t want to expend them all making your company sound “cool” without actually supporting core sales and marketing objectives.
The truth is, there’s a big difference between sounding like a human being in your marketing and producing the next Budweiser Super Bowl ad. While every company needs to decide what their specific brand and tone guidelines are, below are some important steps you can take to find the right balance for your business.
Know Your Prospects
As a B2B marketer, you have an extremely clear picture of your prospects because they share many characteristics and attributes with your current customers. Take a look at all your customer logos and think about how you would reach decision-makers at these companies if you had to win their business again.
Once you’ve identified these attributes, you can use them to segment your future customers. Using these segments, create personalized content that speaks directly to their concerns. It doesn’t have to be wildly hilarious and or a candidate for a Pulitzer prize. It just needs to surface issues they can relate to in a human tone of voice.
You’d be surprised how much more engaged people are when they can personally identify with what they’re reading.
Tell Your Customers’ Stories
It’s a basic fact of humanity that what most people care most about is themselves. Great personalized content enables readers to recognize themselves and the problems they have within the scenario you’re presenting.
This doesn’t mean that all your content should be case studies. What it means is that when you’re coming up with an idea for a piece of content, consider those segments you devised. Then determine the basic needs and interests of each segment.
What are the problems they face? What are their business goals? Is the issue that I’m writing about something that truly keeps them up at night? Will they read this blog post and suddenly realize that they can be the hero of their own story?
Timing Is Everything
For many of your prospects, the answers to those questions will change based on the time of year and where they are in the buying cycle. That doesn’t just mean, “Do something themed for Halloween and send a follow-up after they attend my event.”
It means keeping a close watch on current events in the news and in your industry. It means having different content for early stage prospects and those that are further along in the sales cycle.
When you refer to a piece of news that your prospects can relate to or a conference you both attended, you not only benefit from being relevant, but it’s easier to adopt a more casual, human tone or even insert a joke.
Keep The Messages Consistent
Your prospects have a number of channels through which they consume your content and messages. Especially if you want to publish more entertaining or provocative content, it’s critical that the message and tone is consistent across those channels.
A creative, personalized ad should link to a connected piece of content on your website. Your booth experience at an event should have a similar look and feel to the email you send after the event.
Connecting these experiences actually frees you up to be more humorous or charming because you’re developing a relationship with your prospects. You don’t have to remind them every time that you’re “the only high-performance, cloud-based, enterprise-ready, rustic pizza-maker.”
By leveraging all channels and building your case, you’re doing what the CMO wants (moving prospects closer to consensus) and you want (creating authentic, interesting content.)
Be Your Own Audience
The bottom line is that your goal as a content marketer is not to show cat videos because you don’t want to bore people with information about product. Your job is to dig deep and discover what makes your product interesting to your customers. If you’re bored, then they’re bored.
Step one is to entertain yourself by learning more about both your product and your customers. Only then can you ditch the corporate marketing-speak and replace it with messages that are meaningful to everyone.
(Stock images via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.