The Four Pillars of B2B Content Strategy

Click to enlargeI was approached the other day by one of our clients, the CMO of a technology firm who asked me my thoughts on his company’s content strategy. The CMO said, “We have a lot of smart people who develop a lot of good content, but something tells me we’re not really getting value out of our content efforts – what are your thoughts?”

After taking a look at what they were doing, I agreed that they had a lot of good content. I also agreed there was much more they could do. When thinking about B2B content strategy, you should consider four main pillars.

1. Space

What space do you want to own?

The first pillar of content strategy is Space. In other words, you must determine what space you want to own as it relates to content. This is different from defining your positioning strategy, and it is also different from determining your value proposition. Positioning and value proposition refer to the solution you offer. However, the space you want to own is about the problems your target market faces. You want to be known as a company that is highly knowledgeable about both the problem and its related solutions. You want to provide thought leadership, insights, ideas and education.

The beauty of gaining clarity on this pillar is that it informs both your positioning strategy and your overall marketing plan. It also defines your SEO strategy.

Think about the problem your potential customer has, and brainstorm how you can provide value through your content; then serve it up to them, thereby owning that space.

2. Production

How do you make it easy to produce?

You almost certainly have a lot of content available to you. That content is currently locked inside the heads of the smartest people in your company. The trick is to get that content out of their heads; that is called Production. Production is the second pillar of your content strategy.

Sometimes your thought leaders can write clearly, effectively, and engagingly. But most of the time, thought leaders need help with that production. Not only do they need an easy way to get the information out of their heads, but they need someone who can take that information and put it into a compelling and coherent message.

The companies that are most successful at producing excellent content use a marketing services bureau approach to pulling that information out of the heads of thought leaders. In your case, the marketing team should play this role.

The key to this production model is to make it extremely easy to get the raw material out, whether that’s through an interview, by drafting documents or by creating an outline.

It is then up to the marketing team to take that raw material and use it to create the best first deliverable. After that, it’s time to think about follow-up deliverables; and that is the third pillar.

3. Repurposing

How do you repurpose it to get the most out of it?

If you are engaged in a content strategy, it is very likely that you are so focused on content development that you’ve missed one of the greatest content strategy opportunities – content repurposing. Content repurposing is where you take the raw material discussed earlier and present it in a different way.

For example, when you interview a thought leader, your objective is to create raw material. Frequently, someone already has a specific deliverable in mind for that raw content. It could be a blog post, a presentation or an article, but it’s usually only one of those things, rather than all of them. Here is where content repurposing comes into play.

Once you’ve mined that raw material, you should start with the highest value output and go from there. For example, you might be producing the content for a blog post related to a product launch. Marketing can help the thought leader develop the blog post. But the next step is to repurpose that blog post. And that step is imperative.

If it’s a long blog post, it could be repurposed into several smaller blog posts. Create visuals to help tell the story. Why? Because visuals are what create readership and increase sharing. Those visuals, along with the text of the blog post, can be turned into a presentation. That presentation can be turned into a video with voiceover. That video with a voiceover can be turned into a podcast. The possibilities are endless. The point here is that you should put just as much energy into repurposing as you put into creating the original content.

4. Promotion

How do you promote it to maximize its value once it exists?

You may feel that producing content is good enough and that once it’s been published, the content will be found. This is a mistake. You need to promote that content and get it seen. Promotion isn’t difficult; it’s the discipline around promotion that is difficult. Using the example of the raw material that turned into a blog post and was then repurposed, here are some ways to think about promoting that content.

Use Social Media
Create a posting cadence across all of your social channels to alert people to the availability of your content. In other words, tweet about it, and post it on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn more than once. Post at different times of the day, and spread your effort out over days, weeks and months. Too many people are worried about posting material more than once. Social channels need to be looked at like a waterfall. Once that water has passed, no one is going to see it again, so when your readers revisit the waterfall, you want to present them with material they may have missed before.

Publish on Other Social Properties
Try to get your material published on other (non-owned) social properties. Not only can the deliverable be published, but that thought leadership content could be an enticement to get your thought leader interviewed for a podcast, a webinar or even for a speaking opportunity.

Engage with those who Curate Content
Be sure to develop a relationship with the people who curate your content. Don’t just promote the content in front of you. Rather, think of promoting a stream of content that comes from that thought leader and your company. This means that people who curate your content today will pay attention to content you produce in the future. It’s important to acknowledge their curation and create engagement with them.

Approaching your B2B content strategy by leveraging these four pillars will increase the impact of your thought leadership, and help you achieve your marketing goals.

Comments

  1. says

    Good advice, Glenn. As well as understanding the problems your prospects have, it is important to understand where they are going to go when trying to solve those problems too. Do they spend time on Facebook, LinkedIn, reading blogs, listening to podcasts, watching youtube videos, etc…

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