As a B2B company, do you doubt whether content marketing can really add value? Then the doubts below may sound familiar to you. Myth or legitimate counter-argument? We take a closer look at the most important doubts about content marketing in B2B.
- “I’m already the market leader and I don’t need content marketing”.
The situation is recognizable: as a B2B company, you are a historical market leader in your industry. Friends and enemies accept that leadership, leads come in easily and your sales curve grows year on year. So why on earth would you bet on content marketing to become more visible (awareness), build more authority (thought leadership) or generate more leads and sales? This is a somewhat resigned viewpoint that can hurt your company’s position in the long run in two ways.
First, because you are missing an opportunity to use content to help your target audience. Informing’ is also a marketing goal, a very popular goal in fact, and it can be very close to your ‘purpose’ to use content to help your audience one step forward. Without having to reap the benefits yourself in the short term.
Secondly, your competitors are not sitting still. They too will realize at some point that the market leader is leaving a gap in terms of content marketing. They will analyze what you do or do not do with content, build visibility in those areas and underpin their know-how to finally capture more sales and thus market share.
- “My competitors already bring good content, how can I ever compete?”
In the opposite situation, where you are not a leader in your B2B market, the thought leadership of the market leader can scare you. Does it make sense to get started if you know you won’t be able to make a fist (right away) anyway? It certainly does.
The most common approach is to find a good niche. Analyze the content of the market leader and see which domains he covers less. If those match well with what your company stands for, then that can be a good starting point. Even if that domain only covers a small part of your activities. Think of it as a launching pad: you can use that gap in the market to create visibility, experiment with interesting formats, make it clear to customers that you want to and can help them.
If you succeed in making a success of the content in that niche, then you are already in a stronger position to invest in the next phase in a domain where the market leader is present, but perhaps not very strong. This way you can gradually build on your position.
- “Content does not fit into my marketing strategy”.
This is an often-quoted counter-argument, but behind it there is just as often another reason. Because in itself it would be strange that content does not fit into the strategy, since the goals can’t be that different: brand awareness, informing, lead generation, loyalty, sales, … they are marketing goals and also content marketing goals. So where is the sting? In the rhythm.
Content marketing requires continuous attention, traditional marketing is built on peaks, through campaigns. That sometimes falters, but in practice does not prove irreconcilable. Companies that invest in continuous content marketing can keep their traditional campaigns running perfectly and even align the two. It takes an adjustment on the part of the marketing department, true. But very often we also see how the content marketing mindset gradually seeps into the entire marketing department.
You can see this in strategy as well: beginning B2B companies create an addition in their strategy, a separate content marketing strategy. More mature B2B companies are making content marketing the marketing strategy.
- “My company is very sales-oriented and content doesn’t work that way.”
This counter-argument comes with a kind of culture shock: in a highly sales-oriented organization, publishing non-promotional content is often like pincer to a pig. Yet it’s a misconception that that more customer-focused content can’t lead to sales.
As a strong sales organization you have often already built awareness (e.g. through your sales representatives) and you can more quickly make the step to a strategy that is built on sales. The only condition is that your sales team is well versed in the content mindset. Explain to them how neutral or opinionated content, which is not about products but for example about the sector, can be a perfect conversation starter. Explain to them that with good videos or blog posts, the content team can provide answers to the questions or problems that customers keep calling the salesperson about. These are building blocks you can use over time to work toward more inbound leads thanks to content.
- “Our company doesn’t like to step into the spotlight, let alone become a thought leader.”
This is a respectable choice. Not every CEO or CMO is eager for a role in the spotlight as your industry’s number one expert. Yet there are other ways for a company to become a thought leader. You can show that you have the sharpest analysis in house by being the first to bring out sector news and by assessing its impact. Or by expressing a clear view on the future of your sector. This does not necessarily have to be done with a face. If it is clear that your company can bring the best and fastest content about hot topics, then that helps your thought leadership just as much.
- “Our company has no or not enough interesting content.”
This is an absolute classic among the reasons for not doing content marketing, but especially in B2B it rarely turns out that way. A lot of content is in the heads of employees and experienced content specialists can bring it to the surface. It often takes expertise to turn that content into stories that are valuable to your audience and not product-centric, but it is perfectly possible. Those who make the exercise thorough at the start often generate content for months far and wide. There is always some topicality on top of that. Who then regularly schedules a new thought exercise, rarely runs out of content. On the contrary, in B2B a sort of snowball often develops once the first content comes out with a set rhythm.
- “Social media are not popular in our industry”
So what? It is a misconception that content marketing should only start from your own social media. Is your industry less present on LinkedIn or not thinking about apps yet? When defining the strategy, it is especially important to analyze where your audience is present. Use the touchpoints you find throughout the customer journey and you can then even build bridges to social media from there to boost their use.
- “It’s never clear from content marketing in B2B whether it works.”
In this last argument, the word “never” is a misnomer. It’s true that you can never determine the impact of content marketing in the blink of an eye. A good content marketing program takes time, and you often don’t see the first effects until after six months of sustained effort. Then, in B2B, it’s not out of the question that the real goal (image, leads, sales,…) doesn’t come into focus until a year or a year and a half later. Does that mean you’re floating in the immeasurable for 18 months? Not at all.
In your strategy you define goals and indicators. Certainly for the digital part you can measure these very well and process them in clear dashboards. They indicate whether you are on the right track, offer the chance to constantly make adjustments and clearly report when the desired effects will occur. This is precisely why it is so important to define very clearly at the start what result you want to achieve. If you don’t, it will never be clear whether you will achieve that goal.