Invaluable B2B marketing hacks we can learn from publishers
Columnist Scott Vaughan shares some of the ways his experience in the media and publishing world has shaped the strategies and tactics he's applied to his B2B marketing efforts.
Over dinner a few weeks back in Austin, a few of my B2B marketing peers pointed out how much influence my days as a publisher have had on the way I approach B2B marketing.
I hadn’t given it too much thought before then. However, after hearing the observations of my fellow marketers, I reflected on some of the “go-to” strategies and tactics in my current B2B marketing playbook. Indeed, I have carried many of my media company learnings into the B2B marketing world.
Inspired by my colleagues, here are a few publisher strategies and hacks that I’ve seen drive significant, cumulative value for B2B marketers.
1. Develop POVs on topics that matter to your audience, not just your organization
The single biggest gift I received and have used religiously is the power of developing Points of View (POVs). In the media and publishing world, editors and publishers meet regularly to debate the biggest and most important topics to cover, to discuss what these topics mean, and to develop a clear “take” or “point of view” on subjects to present to their audience.
For B2B marketers, POVs are embedded in your core communications, and they amplify what your brand stands for. Points of View are most effective when aligned with key business drivers, market trends, industry conversations and customer pains and priorities. This POV immersion and alignment helps your brand stand out and boosts relevance in the increasingly noisy, crowded markets we serve.
An example of a big market trend in martech for POV alignment is Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Everybody is talking about ABM. So it’s important to develop your/company’s take. At Integrate, our ABM POV has been “companies don’t buy anything, people do.”
While everybody in the ABM world is talking about “accounts,” our POV emphasizes the need to focus more specifically on the people — professional buyers — representing the target accounts who’ll actually sign the check.
This take delivers a unique perspective that amplifies and drives home our core value proposition and one our customers gravitate to as a best practice.
2. Use cross-channel content and formats to build discussion over time
In the publishing world, topical POVs are developed to educate, dissect and/or explain trends or events throughout their life (or news) cycle.
This builds interest and interaction and enables the audience to follow the story, see it unfold, and in some cases, participate in it. This means content is rarely developed for one specific communications piece or medium. Rather, it keeps building and is deployed over time in different formats.
As B2B marketers, we should rarely, if ever, develop a single communications effort – blog, presentation, video, white paper, case study — that’s only used for one medium.
For example, you may start with a company blog that explains your POV or market shift. It can then be complemented by:
- a more in-depth white paper or guide
- a handful of expert video interviews to amplify the key points
- a presentation delivered at an industry conference
Leveraging a multi-channel, multi-format approach allows you to build the “story” and engagement over time. It would be awesome (and a miracle) if your prospect universe and stakeholders could get your key points in one take.
The reality here is you want to use the power of repetition, but with the twist of using different content formats and delivery channels, letting your buyer/audience choose the method they prefer.
3. Get visual to tell your story in an educational way
Successful media outlets are disciplined at using compelling images, graphics and headlines to draw their target audience into the subject matter. No, I’m not talking about “click bait.” A strong visual will conjure up the right ideas, explain a complex set of events, or provide data that helps the audience understand the key points.
This power of visualization may seem obvious, but it’s constantly missed. It might be because it can take time and talent to develop compelling visuals. In my experience as a marketing exec, this is essential and worth the investment to include in your B2B marketing arsenal.
The fact is, content with relevant images gets 94 percent more views than content without images. And with B2B brands often offering more complex solutions that may take time to fully grasp, using visualization becomes even more important to your success.
To get even more out of your visual effort, steal these often-used tactics from successful publishers:
- Make the graphics/charts/images easy to share and steal for their own use.
- Use short, descriptive captions to educate your audience.
- Source images and data from reputable industry experts and organizations.
4. Trend-jack news to increase relevancy and subject matter expertise
B2B publishers not only inform and educate their audience, they often help shape and create market trends. They’re savvy about being expert sources for the mainstream media and are featured speakers at industry conferences. Here they share their POVs via data charts, visual presentations and discussion panels.
B2B marketers benefit from applying this same approach, often referred to as “trend-jacking.” Many analysts, reporters and news outlets are looking for commentary and subject matter expertise when news breaks or when they’re writing an article on a given topic. This is a perfect opportunity to offer your commentary and expertise via an interview, quote or proprietary data to support your POV.
For example, when a major security breach happens, info security companies are quick to offer their expertise, data and perspective on what happened, what it means and what can be done to prevent breaches in the future. Think about your areas of expertise, use your POVs, and be ready to capitalize when news breaks or industry trends shift.
To see such publisher hacks play out in the real B2B marketing world, we need look no further than what Scott Brinker, also known as @chiefmartec, has done in the world of marketing technology with his often-cited Marketing Technology Landscape infographic.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.