B2B Content Strategy -

Updated: Jul 15

How Successfully Are You Engaging and Converting Your Buyers?


Introduction

This is the third in a series of Blogs on B2B marketing strategy. The first focuses on the need for marketing execution to be focused on driving clear business outcomes which are clearly defined in the marketing strategy and anchored in a well-articulated business strategy. It argues that the role of marketing tactics are to get the right message to the right person at the right time and the second article therefore focuses on brand strategy and the value proposition. Here we will look further at how we deliver the ‘right message’ by looking at content strategy: in particular, at personalised messaging.

What is Content Strategy?


Content Strategy, when it comes right down to it, is about having a strategy for your content! To have a strategy you need to understand what your target reader wants from your content and, in particular, what it is that you want your content to achieve. This is why your content strategy must be part of, and be driven by, your marketing strategy. And why your marketing strategy needs to deliver measurable outcomes that deliver the business goals and are an integrated part of the business strategy.

(I know I’m getting boring about this now, but it’s hard to say too often, ‘don’t do stuff if you don’t know why you are doing it and/ or you can’t measure its impact on what you’re trying to do!).

I like Jodi Harris of the CMI’s (content marketing institute) blog on this in which she writes that a content strategy should start with answering these three questions:

· Who should the content we produce be most relevant to?

· What benefits does this audience receive from consuming our content?

· What desirable and distinctive content experience can we consistently deliver?


The CMI also makes it clear that a content (and content marketing) strategy is different from a content plan. I recommend this article https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/developing-a-strategy/ as a great starting point.


Messaging Hierarchy

A key outcome of a content marketing strategy, that drives content messaging, is key to communicating brand and solution differentiation, and drives SEO, is the messaging hierarchy, or message architecture.

What is a message architecture?

Once more, the CMI says it best in this blog:

‘A message architecture, sometimes called a messaging architecture or messaging framework, is a small set of words – terms, phrases, or statements – arranged hierarchically to convey an organization’s messaging priorities, its communication goals. It helps people in all departments deliver consistent messages in all types of content.

It’s called an architecture because it acts as “scaffolding for your content, supporting and shaping the content you actually produce,” Erin Kissane says in her book, The Elements of Content Strategy.’

In a B2B technology environment, particularly where the ‘offer’ is intangible, like professional services or software (licensed or as a service) the messaging hierarchy connects the brand story to the solution offering in a credible and consistent way that reinforces the value proposition and company USPs.



The messaging hierarchy also helps drive the thinking on how to connect value statements and differentiation to the buyer’s journey and the buying personas.






SiriusDecisions (now part of Forrester) is one of the leading proponents of understanding and mapping the buyer’s journey but I particularly like this engaging version.


This journey starts with an 'epiphany', which acknowledges that something happens that moves someone to decide that something needs to be done about a thing. Got it? Welcome to the challenge of B2B marketing!



Personas and Personalisation

So, a tipping point is reached, or a business change happens – think: change of executive leader, poor results, directive from corporate, digital transformation – that drives action. This awareness that something needs to be done leads to an exploration of ways in which the problem/ challenge can be addressed, followed by an agreed shortlist of ways, which in tech markets usually means solution discovery, evaluation and supplier selection.

In B2B this journey often involves many different functions and levels within the organization and the individuals tasked with identifying a solution will perform different roles, usually requiring very different needs for information (or ‘messaging and content’). It is also not a linear journey and we will look in another blog at how marketers need to determine the level of interest of a buying group based on their engagement with this information/ content.

These multiple stakeholders in the buying process are grouped into buying personas – that could represent multiple people/ functions in reality – for Marketers to think about creating content and messaging based on their role in the process. This goes hand-in-hand with the work on the buyer’s journey, brand strategy and value proposition and usually results in persona definitions presented in shorthand, such as the one shown.


Summary

This blog, read in conjunction with my earlier piece on brand development and value propositions, has tried to address some of the strategic building blocks of getting the right message to our target audience.

The complexity and size of the buying group involved in most B2B purchasing decisions, which increases with the risk and economic impact of a purchasing decision, leads to long, complex buying journeys. It is this very complexity that drives the need for companies to be clear about the value that they offer, show how that value can be realized and communicate consistently with those who need information to take decisions and drive action. The approaches and tools described here will help to get the necessary internal buy-in for Marketing to execute in the most effective, most targeted way to deliver the target business outcomes.

In my next Blog I will start to look at how we get the well-articulated right message to the right person by thinking about segmentation and digging a little deeper into the personas that make up a typical enterprise technology purchasing group.

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