It’s the break-up line as old as time (or at least as old as Season 5 of Seinfeld): “It’s not you, it’s me.” There may have been a time when unsuspecting singles accepted this line at face value, but today, there isn’t a person who can’t see what it really is: an unspecific and unhelpful sentiment that poorly masks what’s really happening.
Sound anything like some of the B2B content marketing you’ve seen? According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI), a whopping 93 percent of marketers now use content marketing as part of their marketing strategy, no doubt attempting to emulate the success of big B2B brands like General Electric. However, just because more B2B brands are integrating content marketing into their marketing strategies does not mean it’s going well. In fact, only 42 percent of B2B marketers utilizing content marketing consider themselves effective at it.
What’s going wrong? Well, in many cases, their content is just like the infamous breakup line; it’s unspecific, unhelpful and it poorly masks what they’re really trying to do: sell more products and services. Think about it: Have you ever visited a B2B company’s website only to be turned off by its copy? “Our product/solution is the absolute best for…” or, “We just won the prestigious XYZ award!” Unfortunately, many B2B companies are failing to grasp that this kind of “me, me, me” language turns today’s buyers off.
Today’s customers don’t want a sales pitch—they want educational, helpful information to solve their problems. In other words, when it comes to content, it’s not about me, the company, it’s about you, the customer.
But how do you put the customer first in your content? First, you need to understand your current and potential customers to develop buyer personas. As Stephanie Kapera points out, buyer personas help you better understand how customers behave in relation to your products/services. Buyer personas help you understand your target customers’:
Knowing how customers behave is only half the battle. The next step is to transform your content to touch on the information you’ve gleaned in an engaging, helpful manner. You need to tell a story that’ll grab and hold their attention while subtly positioning your company or product or service as the story’s heroic protagonist.
Take Dropbox (a B2B and B2C company) for example. Instead of jumping right into the generic boilerplate language you see on many B2B websites, Dropbox instead uses its valuable homepage real estate to discuss the stuff potential customers really want to know, like benefits and concerns. Examples of Dropbox's copy include:
Every chunk of copy puts me—the potential customer—and my needs first. Want to know how else Dropbox is putting customers first? It doesn't even have pricing on the homepage—visitors need to click the pricing link at the bottom of the page to see pro and business service options. This is a strategy B2B companies should consider applying to email marketing campaigns, blogging and everything in-between.
If your content speaks more about your company or products/services than it does customers, there’s a good chance you’re one of the 42 percent of B2B companies who say content marketing isn’t working for them. The good news, as Doug Kessler rightfully points out on Econsultancy, is not every B2B company needs content marketing to win a market. However, if you have chosen to pursue content marketing, you have to go about it the right way: Put the customers first and your company second.
How do you put the customers first in your content? Let me know in the comments!
Photo Credit: abeckstrom
Known as Hawkeye for her near superhuman copy editing abilities, Lisa Gulasy applies her unique experiences in agency and journalism to manage strategy and day-to-day engagement of client social media profiles and assist in researching and writing blogs, press releases and advanced content. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.