Sometime ago, I was discussing content marketing for B2B enterprises with a friend and business associate of mine. We agreed that the industry is yet to take cognisance of the importance of, and difficulty in, B2B content marketing. That, B2B content marketing is a lot tougher than B2C content marketing which so eagerly uses consumer conversations and all available social media channels to its advantage. B2B content marketers are late entrants in this playing field and are somewhat reluctant to pick up speed as there aren’t enough B2B success stories to rejoice about.
Unlike B2C marketing with large universes of consumers, B2B marketing followed narrow targeting, with very few clients and prospects in its focus. Moreover, there were fewer customer conversations to bank on. Yet, there was enough happening in the marketplace to inspire B2B companies to adopt and implement content marketing programmes in their own ways. In a trial-and-error sort of way, you could say. So, everything was new. Everything was experimental. Still, inspired by our discussion, I thought of sharing here what I learnt from our conversation.
My friend (name withheld on request) leads the product and marketing initiatives in the Enterprise & Government sector in a telco, managing existing portfolio of services from product capability and profitability perspective, keeping in mind the company’s growth aspirations and opportunities in the market. His work also involved creation of new products and services in enterprise mobility and in the digital space, and then taking them to market. This involved a combination of product engineering, P&L management, marketing… as well as technical engagement with clients for developing their solution architecture.
“Content marketing is extremely critical to the success of our digital services initiative,” my friend had said. The availability of relevant information which could help customers relate to their business scenario as well as the ability to play around with the content to create real-life business propositions were of great importance. Content was getting generated continuously through his company’s internal documentation processes, through interaction with customers, through research and market studies. A Big Data sort of scenario in its own right.
His company’s ability to curate such content continuously and then repurpose them for different groups of people, such as employees, customers, regulators, partners and suppliers, played a big role in the company’s communication strategy. His company used internal as well as external resources for producing such content. But, “B2B content is highly specialised stuff,” he had cautioned me. “It can get too technical and can therefore lose the interest of customers, or can get extremely generic and lose the essence of the company’s capabilities. The ability to maintain a fine balance between technicalities and business relevance held the key to success.”
His company used technology platforms for developing digital engagement strategies for themselves and for their customers. This involved a combination of analytics, targeted information and call to action. Such information was mostly consumed by target groups through smart devices such as mobile phones and tablets. However, one had to bear in mind that the regulation demanded that such information was provided only to those customers who were willing to accept such information on their mobile devices. My friend’s company had to maintain complete compliance towards this end.
In the B2B space, his company did not run campaigns that could be compared to consumer businesses. The campaigns they ran were very targeted and customised for various customer groups. As an example, he said, his company ran some successful campaigns around corporate internet services, managed mobility, mobile device management and mobile security. They had a very successful campaign around 4G services for their enterprise and SMB customers. The key learning was that user cases and case studies were the most effective way of communicating with this segment of the market.
Since much of this was experimental, he felt there weren’t too many disappointments to talk of. However, evangelising new ideas was a painstakingly slow process.