Everyone – from pre-teens to grandmothers – is more likely to communicate by emoji, memes and short text messages than ever before.
Why, then, should we still create longer-form content for B2B audiences?
When done well, this type of content can help with SEO and lead conversion, while also building thought leadership for your company and executives and/or subject matter experts. And, it’s shareable like a Thanksgiving turkey.
1. START WITH RESEARCH
If you’re going to ask your target audience to take several minutes or more to read an article or watch a video, it had better be relevant. The best way to know whether your topic will resonate is to understand what challenges your audience is facing.
- Roofing contractors are battling an ongoing labor shortage, so they’ll be receptive to bylined stories about the importance of training
- Builders and remodelers are figuring out how to build or update homes for the baby boomer generation, which makes a story on universal design
When you strike a nerve with your audience, you’ll get much stronger results. You’re not asking them to read or view something. You’re giving them something they need to build their business and solve their problems.
To effectively get a read on your key audiences, you need to:
- Review persona research: It’s likely you’ve done this already if you’ve developed a website or any sort of marketing strategy. Rely on those insights. If you don’t have them, get them.
- Know industry trends and nuances: You might be aware of an industry trend, but do you understand whether it’s limited by geography? Or changes based on demographics? For example, a nursing shortage is hitting hospitals and healthcare centers across the U.S., but which areas are under duress the most and why? In those areas, is it caused by an aging population, a wave of retirements or both?
- Understand where your company, product and service fit in: Your sales team can be an invaluable resource here. There’s a reason your product was developed or new service was rolled out. What problem does it solve for your customers? How is it differentiated in the market? How is the sales team talking about it internally and with customers?
2. PROVIDE EXCLUSIVE INISGHTS
Your research isn’t over – not yet.
It’s time to tell your target audiences something they don’t know, and tie those revelations to your product or service.
Too difficult? Not really.
- Add a few questions to customer surveys you’re already doing that will provide exclusive insights into the types of challenges your products/services can solve.
- Commission a study with a polling firm, where you can target the geographic and demographic specifics of an industry or consumer audience.
- Dedicate internal resources for an exclusive study that attracts interest in the highest levels of your industry.
The time and money spent on this can pay huge dividends.
For example, polling might cost several thousand dollars or more, but might provide the base for a plethora of content pieces. Putting internal resources toward content pieces might seem like wasted time until you realize you’re establishing industry thought leadership for your company and subject matter experts. Another way to obtain original research is through social listening.
3. MAKE IT ENGAGING
If your writing isn’t compelling or video production is lame, you’re wasting your time … and could hurt your brand more than help it.
Think of what appeals to you – and your target audience. If you’re trying to reach middle-aged engineers about a technical product, you’ll certainly have a different writing voice than you would for 20-something marketing professionals.
Regardless, it’s best if you employ these methods for written work:
- Start with an outline: Even if you hated them in school, give it a try. The worst thing it could do is organize your thoughts.
- Use subheads: This isn’t an old-school term paper – try to have skimmable sections, paragraphs that are only a couple sentences and a variety of sentence lengths. Make it pleasing to the eye.
- Make it visual: People engage much more with visual
- Use – or hire – talent: If your internal team doesn’t have the time or skillset to pull off a long written piece, it’s OK. Have a professional writer tell your story – with plenty of input from your team – and have a strong editor or team of reviewers in-house to ensure that it’s brand-right and compelling.
For videos, you’ll want to be very sensitive to the length – probably at most two minutes, unless it’s a webinar. In that case, make sure to tie in with a content platform to offer more information to viewers.
4. SHARE IT!
Your long content piece can be the start of a content feast, where the key points and messages are shared throughout your marketing platforms and beyond.
Formats could include:
You’ll also need to decide whether your content is gated or ungated to start, but you’ll certainly want to set it free at some point to be sure you’re getting the maximum benefit from all your hard work.
BTW, this post is less than 1,000 words, which is OK. That’s the final - bonus - tip: Make your content pieces only as long as they need to be. After all, the title of this blog post said “quick tips.”