If you’re a B2B business that wants to build an online profile, raise awareness, strengthen its SEO efforts and generate leads, then blogging needs to be on your radar.
It’s a cornerstone marketing strategy being successfully executed by millions of firms in all sorts of industries across the world.
At its heart is the production of a regular stream of high quality and highly targeted content. This may include text articles, but also infographics, videos and a whole host of other forms of content. The aim being to build up a solid content library that will stand the test of time and position you as a leading voice in your field.
For many businesses, your own products and services will lend themselves towards being a base or starting point for interesting content topics. But it won’t be this easy for everyone.
So, if you’re operating in an industry that doesn’t seem, at first glance, to be a natural fit for blogging – can it really work? And what should you be writing about?
Blogging when your industry isn’t that exciting
Some B2B businesses will naturally find blogging far easier than others, depending on the area they are operating in.
For example, a top end marketing agency will instantly have lots to talk about and a broad range of potential topics to choose from, while a manufacturer who makes a specialist piece of equipment for a niche industry may feel they have nothing to say.
One of the biggest differences between B2C and B2B is usually the size of the potential audience. Marketing to consumers is often about hitting the masses, whereas in B2B you tend to aim at a far smaller segment but going for bigger deals.
If we take the example of a manufacturer who sells industrial cleaning products, the audience is going to be far smaller than the audience of a software company flogging a product designed to aid the productivity of SMEs.
If you’re struggling to think of what interesting content you could possibly create because you’re in a niche industry, then look no further. Here we’re going to prove to you that there’s a lot you can do, as far as content is concerned, no matter what industry you may be in.
Know who you are writing for
When putting together a content strategy you should always start by forming a clear picture of who your intended audience is.
Filling out your buyer personas in detail, will go a long way towards helping you create content that will be of interest to your target audience. If you haven’t created your buyer personas yet, get our free, ready to use buyer personas template and you are ready to go!
Remember, business blogging isn’t just another form of company brochure. It’s about covering topics that your target audience will be interested in and find of value. You want visitors to read your blog and feel glad they did. (Ideally, finding it so incredibly helpful and informative that they feel inclined to share it with their networks, helping you spread your message even further!).
But reaching your intended buyers is just one part of the potential blogging audience. You also need to think about outreach and influencer campaigns. That means finding the people and organisations who will function as online amplifiers for your content. They are unlikely to ever buy from you, but could make a huge impact on your online audience reach.
Examples here would include other companies who have an existing audience you want to tap into. Also, individual bloggers and thought leaders, industry websites, media outlets and other types of online portal – basically, whoever has captured an audience who will potentially be interested in your product.
Say you come across one, such as a software company that is aiming at the same mid-sized purchasers and buyers as you. You could reach out to them and find a mutually beneficial way to collaborate. Perhaps tie-up on a joint promotion, or supply them with a guest blog and share one of theirs. There are loads of tactics you might consider and that will help you get in front of a bigger audience.
Know your goal
Before you start doing any kind of blogging, it’s important to be clear on what your overall goal is.
Do you simply want to raise awareness and create some organic traffic to your website?
Or do you want to generate firm sales leads?
Whatever your goal may be, be clear about it from the outset. Also, decide which KPIs you need to measure in order to know whether you are achieving your goals.
In any industry, no matter now flashy or mundane it may be, your goal could be simply to demonstrate your expertise. To show the audience that you know what you’re talking about, that you understand the issues and communicate concisely.
The next key question is how much traffic do you need to generate to achieve your goal?
100 people reading your posts each month may be more than enough, if those 100 people are highly targeted and it gets you the results you desire.
One common misconception, regarding content marketing and business blogging, is that you need to focus on creating content that ‘goes viral’.
Yes, it’s always nice if a piece of content takes off, but it’s also incredibly hard to achieve.
Usually, a content team will have produced a ton of content that has led to mediocre results before they finally strike gold and have a piece really take off.
You may not even need it though! If your potential audience is very small then it’s doubtful a viral piece of content is going to bring you that much more business in.
Instead, ensure your energies are being put to best use by focusing on creating content that your core buyer audience, and audience of marketing amplifiers, will find truly valuable. It’s about quality over quantity.
A blog is not a brochure
We can’t stress this point enough. A blog is not simply a glorified company brochure, put there to talk about your business and products. If you go down this path, it will not generate any results for you.
Many B2B companies who are new to content marketing can fall into the trap of writing blogs that are basically copies of their sales brochure. While this type of content has a place within the marketing mix, it’s not here!
You will be neglecting a major opportunity – your TOFU (top of the funnel) content, i.e. the content that works to attracts new contacts, who you can then work on converting into leads and eventually paying customers.
A great starting point for any blog is to aim to educate your audience. Take one specific topic and try to explain it in detail, showing off your expertise in the process.
If you are worried you’re giving away trade secrets that you don’t want your competition to know about, then think about how else you could share the information. Describe the process of your solution but not the solution itself – or the other way around – whichever you feel most comfortable doing.
It’s usually the applied knowledge that is expensive, not so much the information itself. It’s one thing to have an idea and a totally different one to execute it successfully.
With information so easily accessible nowadays and banks of online content growing by the second, it’s likely that someone will already have covered any topic you choose. Check out the competition. When someone searches for information on this specific topic, what will they find? Is it you? The secret is to provide the best quality content on any topic you choose, as quality will always win out in the end.
Learn about storytelling
The best and most effective business blogs have a specific style. This will usually be quite personable and approachable, avoiding jargon or technical language, and cutting out the fluff.
People read blogs because they want to fill gaps in their knowledge. Just because the industry you are in might seem quite mundane at first glance, that doesn’t mean your blogs need to be.
Nobody likes to watch a boring movie or read a boring novel, and the same goes for blogs. It is therefore worth investing in the support of a professional writer, who will be able to help you tell your stories in a compelling way.
Sticking with our industrial cleaner company example, one way they might bridge the gap between their product features and creating appealing content, could be to create a series of videos showing cleaning fails. Office/industry scenarios with a pinch of humor thrown in, could work wonders here.
Humor again isn’t always easy to get right, so make sure you work with people who know what they’re doing. The result will be appealing content that helps you reach a broader audience.
One good example of a content strategy that ended up going viral is the “will it blend” video series. Humor with a hint of craziness and a great set up made sure the content was appealing, while getting the message across without having to spell it out.
But once again, don’t worry too much about reaching big audiences, worry more about hitting the right audiences. Often taking a very niche approach will lead to great results in no time.
There won’t be that many people searching for the term “how to keep an industrial restaurant floor grease free” but if your product offers a solution then you want to ensure you’re in front of anyone that does. A high quality piece of content that offers the information they are seeking is the perfect way to do that.
Using your expertise on paper
In many B2B industries, people working within an organisation have lots of expertise that customers will value. The tricky part is working out how to show off these expertise, long before a prospect becomes a paying customer.
Extracting this information is one of the trickier elements of a content strategy, as sharing knowledge that has been gained over the years is a hard thing to do.
However, your top sales people will know your products best, while your customer services team will have a direct line to customers. Interview the two departments about the problems and issues your customers face and what they are asking and talking about. That will help you pull out some great nuggets you can address in your content.
Be in it for the long haul
The other thing to realise about blogging, is that once a blog is up it should be designed to stay up. Blogs should become an ongoing asset. So, the more you write the bigger your asset becomes.
Consistency is key and it will take considerable time and dedication to make it work.
Content clusters is the buzz word of the moment and important for all issues SEO. It’s about finding 2-3 main topics that will become the foundation of your blog.
For each topic, write a core piece of ‘evergreen’ content (i.e. content that doesn’t have a time limit and won’t go out of date quickly). Surround and support each of these with several pieces of content based on subtopics. Make sure they are all linked together through hyperlinks and you’ll have started your own content cluster.
So, what is the secret of great content?
It’s simply content that is useful and will be valuable to the person reading it.
Don’t be shy to experiment either. Just ensure you’re helpful and always educate your audience. Use your blog to answer the most burning questions that your potential buyers have – that’s something which every industry, no matter how flashy or mundane, can do.