Creating B2B Content With Impact: Pearls of Wisdom from Marketing Leaders

Back in 2017, Dr. Rick Rigsby delivered an impassioned commencement speech at California State University Maritime Academy, sending the internet into a motivational frenzy. The minister, speaker, and former college professor regaled the audience with key learnings from the “wisest person” he’d ever met—a third-grade dropout, who also happened to be his father.

Despite his lack of formal education, Dr. Rigsby’s father rigorously pursued learning and growth, instilling a drive for excellence within his children and providing a light in the darkest of times. But perhaps the biggest takeaway from Dr. Rigsby’s speech would eventually become his motivational catchphrase:

“Make an impact, not just an impression.”

via GIPHY

As everyday humans, Dr. Rigsby’s message reminds us that striving to be our best selves can have a profound effect on the world around us. And I’d say that for B2B content marketers, this is more than just an inspiring directive, but also a growing imperative.

We all know that the days of creating content for content’s sake are long gone. Customers and buyers crave insight, expect relevance, and demand better brand experiences. We need to create content for maximum positive impact.

In the spirit of combining knowledge with wisdom to make an impact, I’ve pulled together a collection of motivational insights across three key areas from some of the industry’s best and brightest B2B marketers.

Creating B2B Content That Makes an Impact on Buyers

From Start to Finish, Empathy Is the Pathway to Truly Understanding Our Audience

“Know your audience” is an age-old B2B content marketing commandment. But knowing your audience goes beyond job title, company size, and the pain points your product can solve. You need to understand their motivations, attitudes, and perceptions, as well as how they interact with your brand. You need to put yourself in their shoes.

Ann HandleyDelighting your audience includes understanding your customers, and understanding how your prospects or customers interact with your brand… Your goal is to be pathologically empathic to your customers. Why? Because: Empathy is the Miracle-Gro of a thriving customer-centric business.

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

Empathy is the Miracle-Gro of a thriving customer-centric business. @AnnHandley @MarketingProfs #B2BContentMarketing Click To Tweet

This empathy needs to be present from planning to measurement to optimization.

True content marketing starts at setting specific, concrete goals on what we believe audiences who engage with our content will do vs. those who don’t. Will they close faster? Will they stay longer? Will they buy more? That’s the benefit of content marketing. And it starts with setting measurable goals not for the content — but for the audience we want to impact.

Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Advisor, Content Marketing Institute

True content marketing starts at setting specific, concrete goals on what we believe audiences who engage with our content will do vs. those who don’t. @Robert_Rose #B2BContentMarketing Click To Tweet

And when it comes to your influencer marketing initiatives, you need to marry audience and influencer insights to hit the perfect point of impact.

Successful partnerships with influencers require an understanding of what the audience wants and how a brand/influencer collaboration can give it to them. Finding ideal influencers for impact means discovering those with on-topic credibility, the ability to publish, and engaged network and a willingness to share.

Matching the right types of influencers with the right content for mutual benefit is essential. Brandividuals can drive awareness, subject matter experts can create engagement and customers who advocate can help inspire sales. As a result, customers get great content, brands attract new customers and influencers earn exposure and access to opportunities.

Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing

Successful partnerships with influencers require an understanding of what the audience wants and how a brand/influencer collaboration can give it to them. @leeodden #B2BContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Read: How to Refocus on Your Audience for Better Content Marketing Results

Product-Centric Content Doesn’t Resonate, So Strive to Create Relevant Two-Way Conversations

For years, the TopRank Marketing team has been both advocate and practitioner of what we call best-answer content marketing. The premise is simple: Your audience has questions. You have the power to answer them whenever and wherever your audience is searching. But this goes beyond developing content based on keyword research or pumping out what we’ve always done.

Carlos AblerWe admonish companies to ‘become publishers’. However, boredom is not a PUBLISHING problem, it’s a RELEVANCE problem, which is an INNOVATION problem. B2B’s publish endless content, but studies show underperforming outcomes in aggregate. We must synthesize the throughput and format models of publishing with those of social innovation and entrepreneurship.

Carlos Abler, Content Marketing Strategist and Keynote Speaker

Boredom is not a PUBLISHING problem, it’s a RELEVANCE problem, which is an INNOVATION problem. @Carlos_Abler #B2BContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Social listening. Building relevant influencer partnerships. Providing thought leadership on burgeoning trends. Learning from what other brands are doing inside and outside our industry. Content marketing isn’t the act of creating and distributing content.

Peter IssacsonGreat content isn’t about platitudes. It’s about provocation. Incitement. Taking a stand and making your audience think in a new way. Giving the counterargument to conventional wisdom. When we do that, we advance the dialogue, rather than diminish it.

Peter Issacson, Chief Marketing Officer, Demandbase

Great content isn’t about platitudes. It’s about provocation. Incitement. Taking a stand and making your audience think in a new way. Giving the counterargument to conventional wisdom. @peisaacon #B2BContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Put simply, content marketing is about delivering buyer’s with needed information, jumpstarting discussion, fostering engagement, encouraging collaboration, and above all else listening and then responding to what our audience needs from us. That’s how we make a meaningful impact.

In a dialogue, you cannot truly listen if you’re just impatiently waiting for your turn to speak. In a noisy content world, this behavior is inadvertently applied in how we, as content leaders, engage with our audiences. We pump out content and then wait until it’s our turn to speak again and pump out some more per our content calendars. What use is it if neither side is listening? Content is meant to be a source of dialogue.

Tameka Vasquez, Assistant Vice President and Global Marketing Lead, Genpact

We pump out content and then wait until it’s our turn to speak again and pump out some more per our content calendars. What use is it if neither side is listening? @tameka_vasquez #B2BContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Without a Strategic Promotion Plan, Expect Minimum Impact

Your content will never reach its full potential—nor your audience—without a thoughtful promotion plan. Period.

The “Field of Dreams” B2B marketing game is over in 2019. If you build it, launch it or just create it, nobody is coming! It’s not only important to create a content strategy, tell great stories and solve customer problems, but you must customize and personalize this content and bring it to your audience where they are currently engaging.

Brian Fanzo, Founder and CEO, iSocialFanz LLC

The ‘Field of Dreams’ B2B marketing game is over in 2019. If you build it, launch it or just create it, nobody is coming! @iSocialFanz #B2BContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Think of it this way: You’ve spent countless hours digging into who your audience is and what they need. Don’t fall short, especially when it comes to designing a plan that aims to not only inform, but captivate.

Don’t cut corners when it comes to creating a promotional plan. The ubiquity of mobile devices, social channels, and online content means that your ability to draw someone’s attention is mostly visual now. Images, graphics, videos, color choice, and layout are all key to grabbing someone’s attention in those two seconds as they scroll through a feed…

Your images need to convey meaning and value without using words. Boring, generic stock photos won’t cut it. Contrary to popular belief, people do still read traditional content forms like whitepapers, eBooks and case studies, but first you’ll need to pull them in with attention-grabbing visuals that show them what they’ll get before you tell them what they’ll get.

Michelle Liro, Vice Present of Demand Generation, PTC

Contrary to popular belief, people do still read traditional content forms like whitepapers, eBooks and case studies, but first you’ll need to pull them in with attention-grabbing visuals. @michelleliro #B2BContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Make an Impact on Your Audience

As part of his closing, Dr. Rigsby told his audience: “If you’re going to do something, do it the right way… in that way you will grow your influence and make an impact.”

Strive to go from having audience knowledge to audience empathy. Don’t just strive to create content; deliver insight and create conversations. And finally, remember that your content marketing initiatives can’t make a positive impact if you cut corners on promotion.

I’ll close with one more tidbit that I absolutely love from Ardath Albee, CEO and B2B Marketing Strategist at Marketing Interactions:

Aim higher than a cliché. The objective is to transform mundane ideas into memorable ones. @ardath421 Click To Tweet

Want more incredible insights from seasoned B2B marketers? Check out our recent B2B Marketing Fitness eBook featuring tips and advice from 16 marketing leaders.

B2B Marketing Fitness

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