The habits of successful B2B content marketing leaders

13 April 2018

What do the most successful B2B marketers in financial, professional services and technology firms do differently when it comes to content marketing

Talk of content generation and a dedicated content marketing strategy in B2B circles are now well-established; even the most hardened critic can’t help but see the potential.

Potential is one thing; getting it done, and doing it well, is different. Our research into what content marketing leaders do differently shows us leaders have defined objectives, clear messages and a deep understanding of the reading habits of their target audience. So far, so obvious. But what else do they do? How else to they stand above the rest to be named a leader in B2B content marketing?

They do less, but do it well

Rather than quickfire content shots, or random acts of marketing, or trying to be everything to everyone, organisations that are leaders in content marketing are no longer trying to support every communication initiative. They have learnt to say no, tackling fewer initiatives but doing much more with those they take on. They focus on what we believe are the areas in which their firms wish to be famous, and double-down their efforts.

It’s a confident focus, a way of telling the world that they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and they’re going to just do what they know they can lead in. And the content that’s produced under those circumstances is much more effective.

They differentiate themselves

The focus and the direction that comes from this confidence provides the key to both how the leaders differentiate themselves, and how they tackle personalisation.

All leaders produce content centrally - think business-wide initiatives such as CA Technologies annual programme on digital transformation, or PwC’s global CEO survey - and they work hard on differentiation. They are almost twice as likely as others, for instance, to include the views of inspirational individuals outside their industry (77% vs 41%).

B2B leaders that focus on what they are strong on, not only differentiate themselves, but simultaneously develop a better understanding their target audience 

and allows them to create more personalised, valuable and impactful content.

Leaders dig deeper into clients’ issues and personalise the content to the needs of particular services, sectors and regions to achieve cut-through. They understand their audience so well that they know what it takes to reach them, and guide them towards conversion.

They focus on the whole project

There is also a wider focus on 
project management - an understanding that content produced in a silo is unlikely to be worthy of a leader. Yes, they are using technology, particularly in measurement. But leaders are hot on governance and process, too.

In the leaders’ toolkit you’ll find a documented content marketing strategy - complete with goals, KPIs, roles and responsibilities; covering planning, creation, distribution and measurement - and consistent and clear content plans. 85% of leaders have central brand guidelines, including an editorial style guide, and 69% have a range of editorial tools such as templates to keep them on track.

Likewise, the leaders are likely to be engaging external partners and influencers as well as their internal teams; 62% include the opinions of industry experts in their content, and 69% use an external content marketing agency. Marketing is used in a strategic rather than administrative role, and all aspects of the project - from suppliers to approvers - are in hand.

Cultivate the habits of content marketing leaders

If all of this sounds nothing like your B2B content creation process, think of it as something to aspire to - it’s really not that far out of reach. Focus, centralisation and effective project management might not be quick-fix revelations, but they are achievable - and they can put a rocket to your thought leadership.

The thing with the habits of content marketing leaders is that they put the onus back on marketing to focus on the firm’s strategic initiatives and think big. Finding the white space for these initiatives might not be easy, but that’s the task ahead of us all. And don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Read more lessons from the leaders in our report; download it here.

Best Practice Content Marketing - download CTA

 

Author: Andrew Rogerson

Andy is a co-founder of Grist, and account director for many of our professional services clients. His recent projects span the full range of marketing communications, including integrated content marketing programmes, web development, thought leadership and video. Prior to founding Grist, Andy was marketing director at the Economist Intelligence Unit in London and New York.

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