B2B content marketers, we feel your pain. Long lead times, challenges with conversion attribution, getting your messages past the gatekeeper at the companies you're targeting... It’s not easy, that’s for sure.
Good job that you’re the super-tenacious, resourceful marketer that you are. And even better that you’re taking the time to read this article on the B2B marketing materials, you’re probably underestimating.
Perhaps you’re in the process of setting your goals for the year ahead. Or maybe you’re conducting a content audit and want to optimize or repurpose your collateral. It could be that you simply want to improve your B2B marketing content strategy and output in general.
Either way, you’re in the right place. So, let’s begin.
What kind of B2B marketing content do I need?
The kind of B2B marketing content you need depends on the types of customers you are trying to attract and the nature of your business. If you are just starting out on your content journey or need an overhaul, it is always worth creating buyer personas. Our very own copywriting guru, Sean, will tell you all about it in our guide to using personas for more effective content marketing.
Once you have built your buyer personas, you can start creating a plan on the types of content people will find most valuable at the different stages of the customer journey. For example:
Awareness: At this point, your ideal customer is educating themselves about their purchase. They know they have a problem and need the right information to help them find a solution.
Top awareness content: blogs, video, infographics, social media.
Consideration: Research is getting more detailed at this stage. The buyer is narrowing down the search and looking to be convinced.
Top consideration content: eBooks and how-to guides, webinars, and more in-depth blog content.
Decision making: You’ve got them hooked, now’s the time to get them past the pos! Address those final barriers to sale, answer those questions — convince them.
Top decision-making content: FAQs, video explainers, case studies, reviews, and testimonials.
You can read more about fixing funnel content that isn’t working here.
Now you are in the perfect position to explore improving and enhancing your marketing materials.
Let’s look at a few popular and effective B2B marketing materials to focus on.
How do I improve my B2B marketing materials?
Your sales collateral is likely to be one of the broadest groups of marketing collaterals you have. Your brochures, fact sheets, proposals, and presentations all play a crucial role in the customer journey and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Improving your B2B sales collateral requires a strategic approach. You need to consider the aforementioned buyer personas and map them to the buyer journey. Then the content needs to integrate smoothly into the sales workflows and be easily accessed and shared by all relevant stakeholders.
So far, a seamless sales funnel, right? But let’s not forget personalization.
Today’s customers want to feel like the brand they choose understands them, their needs, aspirations, and what makes them tick. Creating bespoke and tailored content is a craft in and of its own — so if you want to dive in, we recommend starting with why personalization matters in content marketing.
How to get the most out of your B2B sales collateral
Effectively managing your marketing and sales collateral is the first step to success. Another top tip for improving your B2B sales collateral is repurposing and optimizing your content. We’ve all made the mistake of producing a brochure way back in the day and failing to update it properly to meet the changing needs of our customers and marketplace — or our brand offering.
While the marketing team should be 100% in control of the final version of the asset, there is so much value in involving your sales team in the research and production processes. They’re the ones at the coalface, fielding questions and getting to grips with the language that leads use. They’re the folks who know how to position your product’s features and benefits in a way that wins customers and builds brand awareness.
Your customer service team can also lend a hand here, especially with the FAQs and identifying clients for case studies or testimonials. It’s vital that the messaging of your sales collateral is on point and that the story you’re telling your audience resonates just at the right moment.
You might be all over LinkedIn and getting some pretty good engagement. But maybe there are other platforms that your audience loves that you could test out. For example, if you’re in education, you could look at TikTok and Instagram.
Naturally, we would never recommend you waste your time on social media channels just for the sake of it. So, how do you make sure the time and money you spend on social media is a good investment?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re getting the most out of social.
- What are your goals? E.g., building a community, lead generation, customer service, amplifying your content.
- Are your current activities helping you achieve these goals, and if not, why not?
- Are your potential customers and community using these channels regularly? If not, are they elsewhere?
- What’s your follower/following profile like? Does it reflect your goals?
- What does your audience want to hear about from you specifically? How can you help them?
- How much time and resources do you have to devote to social media? If more is needed, can you provide it without impacting other more effective channels?
- Are there any skills gaps in your business that need addressing?
- How well are you measuring results? What could be improved?
- What do you do with the insights you get?
You need to invest a fair bit of time, long-term, for social media to be truly successful. It’s simply not a channel you can pay attention to intermittently and hope for the best. You know how it looks when you visit a brand’s Twitter feed, and the posts are lazy and irregular. It’s probably better not to have a presence at all.
Choose your channels and approach wisely. Keep checking your engagement rates and the social sentiment of your community. Make sure any impact in your time and resources is worthwhile in the short and long term.
When done well, content downloads are a win-win for both content marketers and the customer. Your reader gets a beautifully-designed asset that gives them everything they need to know about their chosen subject in a neat, interactive package. You get to deliver authoritative branded content in a trackable, shareable format that performs brilliantly on any device.
Provided you use the right technology, of course.
Now, let’s double back on getting the content right. Certain content assets are great for stand-alone pieces, and some aren’t. Let’s look at those that make the cut.
Great stand-alone B2B content formats
White papers are among the most effective B2B content assets for demonstrating thought leadership. White papers never go out of style. With a killer headline, eye-catching but straightforward design with lots of whitespace, unique insights, and an elegant link back to your brand’s products and services, you’ve got a valuable download that is good enough to position as gated content if you wish.
Ebooks and guides
When your prospective customer is at the research or consideration stage, a well-written, insightful and useful ebook or guide is marketing gold dust. If you choose a product like Foleon’s, you’ll see which content the lead has been most interested in, too. Insights that you can arm your sales team with when they make that all-important phone call.
How-to and explainer videos
Pretty much every lead will appreciate a how-to video at any buyer journey stage. This is another great opportunity for personalization, too. If your sales team uses a collaborative content creation platform (like Foleon’s), it needn’t take too much time either.
As long as your event brochure is optimized for any device, your attendee will appreciate a downloadable guide to the seminars, conferences, and meetups they want to attend. Plus, if you make it interactive, you can bring your event to life before the date itself, encouraging engagement and optimizing the user experience.
Bad B2B content formats
Not every B2B content asset is meant to be a stand-alone piece. You need to consider the end-to-end user experience before heading down this path. For instance:
Your sales team should be in control of how a proposal is delivered to a potential customer. In this case, the content should be largely static. There is simply no need for interactive elements, though, of course, the content is bespoke by default.
Blogs and news articles are far better positioned as ‘open’ pages on your website. There, they form a valuable part of your SEO and internal linking strategy, promoting thought leadership and delivering important information to your visitors.
Content hubs are a great way to drive organic traffic to your website. Consider curating your content hub around a central theme or topic to provide the most value to your audience. Examples of content hubs include industry news websites, educational platforms, and resource libraries.
How to get the most out of your B2B marketing content
From one busy marketer to another, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this guide on the B2B marketing materials you might be underestimating. No doubt you have noticed a few consistent themes running throughout this article; the need to listen to your audience and keep checking back to make sure you’re still producing relevant materials that meet the needs of your customer and market. The opportunities available when collaborating with your sales team and the ‘p’ word, of course — our old friend personalization.
Remember, there are only so many hours in the day, so spend them wisely and always try to back up your decisions with hard data.
If you want more real-life advice from Sean and the rest of the Foleon marketing team on how to level up your content, check out our Marketing Power Plays eBook. Let us know how you get on!