We’re all taught that content that isn’t engaging, inspiring, satisfying, and helpful will cause users to hit the dreaded “back button.” But the sad fact is that the majority of commercial content on the Web is dull, fails to resonate, and falls flat, even when it’s accurately targeted at a given audience.
Every business is different (and some are inherently more boring than others), so there’s no silver bullet capable of solving this problem. There are, however, a few tricks that businesses – or the agencies hired by them – can use to inject some spark into their B2B content. Here are five of them:
1. Personality-Driven Content
One important advantage that small and mid-sized B2Bs have over their larger brethren often lies in their founders, who are often charismatic, outspoken, and sometimes “over the top.” While the executive boards of large companies often have high charisma quotients, these executives are often muzzled by internal legal teams, risk-averse PR agencies, or simply by the fact that they don’t deign to write, post, or tweet. If your firm has a “straight-talking” founder with a strong point of view, consider giving this individual a platform via a YouTube video series. While there’s no guarantee that your CEO will become a viral sensation, a strong opinionated voice might be just what you need to set your brand apart on YouTube, the second biggest search engine in the world. As an added benefit, video shot for YouTube may provide topics and quotes that can be used on written content.
2. Behind-the-Scenes Content
In the same way that Hollywood is much more than movies and Washington is more than press conferences, legislation, and memos, your industry has a hidden side whose human dimension is invariably more compelling than anything manufactured for public consumption. (Take it from me: I’ve seen some incredible scenes at SEM-related trade shows). Open your eyes and ears the next time that you attend an industry event, trade show, or conference. What’s actually happening in the culture of your business vertical? Are people feeling exuberant? Paranoid? Optimistic? Racing for the exits? Use the power of the anecdote to make your point. Focusing on the human dimension will give your content a voice that’s impossible to summon when you on abstract industry issues. Don’t cross over into gossip, though, as there are legal and reputational issues related to non-verifiable information.
3. Out-of-the-Box Content
Too many B2B marketers put their content in a straitjacket by restricting its subject matter to that directly relating to the goods and services they sell. While B2B content shouldn’t be “all over the map,” neither should it monotonously hammer on the same narrow points ad nauseam. Here, the 80/20 rule is a good rule to abide by: for every four pieces of content you produce that are narrowly targeted to your service offerings, produce one that’s less directly related, but more likely to be shared on social media and reach a wider audience, irrespective of whether these people are in-market for what you sell.
4. Obsessive Content
If you don’t want to think outside the box, consider burrowing deeper within it. Many B2B solutions are inherently complicated, so consider becoming the subject matter expert on all of the minutia associated with a particular process. While there’s zero chance that you’ll snare general interest from the Web at large, you’ll make clear to passionistas in your target market that nobody cares more or has greater in-depth knowledge about the subject. YouTube is an excellent place to “go granular.” Even if your video doesn’t get a lot of views, each of those views will be from someone who’s almost as obsessed as you are.
5. Strange Data-Driven Content
Everybody loves data-driven articles, but too many B2B data-driven articles use the same data served up by the same research firms. Instead of parroting the same numbers, think creatively about how you can tap into the Web’s big data repositories to produce some relevant data that’s never been seen before. Google Trends can be a good source of trend data for your vertical. Even if you don’t have access to Twitter’s API, it’s fairly easy to mine data from Twitter using XML include statements. Similarly, your own site analytics may be useful for developing this kind of data. Plus, you’ve got all the industry competitive intel tools to use. Just be sure you cite the data source.
The time has come for interesting content because not only does it lift your reputation, it’s also more likely to get linked to, and despite the changes in SEO algos, getting linked still means you get direct traffic and perhaps some SEO link-juice.
Image via Shutterstock.
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