Content marketing is an excellent way for B2B companies to attract and convert more traffic. While it can be challenging to write for a B2B, given the various sectors and the highly technical nature of specific industries, there are a lot of B2B companies demonstrating content marketing effectiveness.
The unique material, which I could easily mistake for content from The Atlantic or Inc.com, is proof that even as a B2B, you can generate high-quality, engaging content assets. It all comes down to consistently assessing and improving the quality of your content, which I do all the time with a few trusted B2B writing tips.
B2B Writing Tips To Drastically Improve Your Content
B2B writing is aligning SEO and content marketing to create engaging material that will attract and engage a target B2B customer. And Deloitte, like other larger B2Bs, targets businesses in a variety of different industries and sectors. That means that they generate articles on a lot of topics.
It’s because Deloitte knows the value of excellent content. And with B2B companies like them leading the way, it’s easy for me (and you) to borrow a few B2B writing and SEO tips from their material. I also included a few tips that members of our inbound team use to create better content.
Gusto uses a ton of great language to demonstrate key differentiators.
1. Find Better Differentiators
Companies like Deloitte don’t need to say that they’re the best because they continually show their expertise in well-written, deeply researched articles. Because when you describe how you offer "better support," or "higher quality,” you’re telling them, not showing them something.
“If your competitors say the same thing,” Ryan says, “It's not a differentiator.”
For instance, Deloitte, who provides services such as audits, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, and tax services, could easily create content that talks about how great they are at providing those services.
To avoid making this mistake, go back to your unique value proposition and do a gut check. Is it unique? Then, make sure that anyone working on your content understands what your differentiators are.
I love this emotional, unexpected video from JetBlue about bringing babies on planes.
2. Find Unexpected, Emotional Stories
I recently interviewed a fellow female solo traveler, Diane, for my travel blog, Driftyland. When I went into the interview, I thought I had a good idea of what the article was going to be about. However, as we talked, Diane shared her love for Russia, telling me stories about walking around Moscow at 4 AM and making friends with curious, warm-hearted locals. I felt a little spark hearing her describe it.
After speaking to her, I realized the real story was in her experience in Russia. Because the story confronted all of my preconceived notions about the country and surprised me (in a good way.)
It’s what I found more compelling, and likely, what my reader would find more intriguing as well.
Because at the end of the day, we all appreciate a unique or surprising story. These types of stories always include conflict, curiosity, and resolution and make the reader feel something.
As Eric, another Inbound Marketer at Lean Labs puts it:
“Even though B2B buyers tend to be less impulsive than B2C, that doesn't mean emotion doesn't play into it.”
I routinely have calls with friends and peers and record them to get content ideas. Eric finds that using Donald Miller's Storybrand concept, which makes the customer the hero of your story, is another way to flesh out an exciting narrative. The goal is to avoid writing articles about mundane, overly covered topics.
When it comes to knowing how you talk about your competitors, Marcus Sheridan is a legend.
3. Control The Conversation
A lot of B2Bs go negative when they write about their competitors. Honestly, it’s a tired approach, because negativity is never a good look. Meanwhile, some marketers avoid talking about their competitors at all, which is also a mistake.
As Ryan points out, your ideal customer will make comparisons between you and your competitor, whether you’re involved or not.
“If you’re not willing to talk about your competitors on your site, where you control the conversation,” Ryan says, “That conversation will take place on 3rd-party websites where you have no control.”
I’d recommend addressing your competition with a positive and honest mindset. Although it may seem counterproductive, write flattering things about them. It’s a tactic that Marcus Sheridan, founder of The Sales Lion, uses to gain the trust of his audience, and sometimes, even referrals.
Any content you generate should fit within one buyer journey stage.
4. Focus On Your Funnel
In B2B, it often takes longer for your leads to move through the funnel, because there’s a longer buying cycle. That’s why you can’t be one step ahead of your lead. Marketers often use a dating metaphor to explain this that you may have heard before, but it’s the best way to describe it.
Basically, when you first meet a potential lead, it’s similar to when you meet someone for the first time in real-life and consider dating them.
And after you ask the local coffee shop barista, who you think it charming and cute, for her phone number, your next question isn’t going to be, “want to date exclusively?"
Because it would be uncomfortable and way too soon for such a commitment. And it’s the same with content.
“If you're writing a piece of TOFU content, don't shove them down the funnel by telling the reader to talk to sales at the end,” says Eric. “And if you're writing a BOFU piece, don't push them back up the funnel by asking the reader to download a broad-topic eBook.”
The customer (or the barista) would think you were way too aggressive. That’s why it’s critical that the next step after reading your content matches the buyer journey stage.
HubSpot is an awesome resource for content marketing insights that aren't just trends.
5. Don't Sacrifice Your Brand
To preface this next point, I’ll contradict myself a little with citing Deloitte as an example of B2B content. While I believe that Deloitte’s “Deloitte Insight” section is pretty great, just because it works for Deloitte doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the best use of your content marketing budget.
Like Deloitte, you should focus on creating material that’s going to be the right fit for your audience, instead of following hot, new B2B content marketing trends.
“There are too many B2B organizations that chase after what’s in vogue,” says Tyler. “Of course, pivot when you need to, but don’t sacrifice your organization’s unique mission or values in that pursuit.”
I love sharing my writing for Lean Labs on LinkedIn and Quora.
6. Involve Your Team
It's difficult to maintain a content marketing content calendar, alongside regular promotion and publishing schedule. However, if you include your team, you can develop better material for your brand, get more engagement from assets, and get more done.
Personally, I try to share at least one of my Lean Labs articles across every platform I have a presence on. I only share one a day, so I can make sure it gets done, and I can write a sincere, thoughtful post for every channel.
Because if anyone on your team is like me, if they're providing thought-leadership in content, they have a more significant stake in it. They want to share that expertise with their networks.
Check out Quora and Reddit once in awhile to see what your customers are actually thinking.
7. Get Out Of Your Head
One of my favorite B2B writing tips is to walk away from an article when I feel blocked and write something else altogether. Sometimes, it’s an outline for a different topic, or it’s an idea for Driftyland. I find that it gets me out of my head and helps me loosen up.
It’s one of many tactics that I’ve picked up from Eric. As he puts it, B2B marketers can get stuck in their own little worlds, writing in the same formats and about the same things.
However, when we step outside of the company and B2B bubble, Eric says, we can find a lot of valuable, relatable insights out in the wild.
“Look at Quora or review sites. There is often rich material there for identifying the problems people are facing or the solutions they've found and how that makes them feel,” Eric recommends. “Pay attention to how they describe the problem or solution, especially the adjectives. Then bring that back to your content.”
If you're bored with the content your team is creating, or your articles aren't getting much engagement, reconnect with your customer. What are they feeling? What are they feeling? What types of articles do they want to read?
Grammarly is a great resource for checking spelling and grammar. But it can also be a bottomless pursuit to "perfection."
8. Don't Let Perfection Delay Progress
For the head of a B2B marketing team or a CEO, it's tempting to nitpick and make every B2B article perfect. Because you understand the value and potential of content marketing, and you want everything to be the best it can be.
However, as a writer and Inbound Marketer, I'll tell you that you shouldn't panic when a B2B SEO blog post isn't perfect, especially when you're new to B2B content marketing.
As Tyler says,
“For many B2B marketers, getting started is the hardest part.”
It's true. It takes a lot of time and a significant investment in B2B content to make it exceptional, especially when you're first starting. You can provide feedback for an article and learn from any mistakes. If you want to gain traction with B2B content, the quest for perfection can't delay progress.
Getting Better Results From B2B Content Assets
If you want better results from your B2B content assets, you need to create better material. Period. No one likes boring or stale content, whether it’s about B2B or not. That’s why using a few of these B2B writing tips to improve your material can be the perfect way to freshen up your articles.
However, another critical aspect of writing B2B content is your overarching inbound marketing strategy. With an inbound structure in place, you can have better engagement and nurturing tactics to get better performance from material and effectively reach your ideal audience.
An inbound strategy will also keep your team on the same page about your goals and objectives, brand voice, and target audience. You can learn more about creating an inbound marketing strategy with our free guide, Conquering The Inbound Marketing Mountain.
As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.