In the first part of our B2B blogging series, we explored the benefits of blogging for B2B businesses and showed why it’s a vital part of any marketing strategy. Blogging draws traffic to your website, sets you apart as an industry expert and generates leads for your B2B company. You get it.
But now you’re probably wondering what on Earth you’re actually going to blog about. Relax. You know you’re company’s brand and message better than anyone, and that’s the vital information you need to get started. Read through this article, and you’ll have all the tools you need to start making a strategy you’d be proud to show to your CEO.
Know your business and marketing goals
Captain obvious here, but you’d be amazed how many marketers hop up on their horses and ride out on a wild blogging adventure without the slightest bit of direction. This may sound like a given, but without knowing what you’re aiming for and defining success, you’re left hurling blog content at a mythical target. The end goal of any great blogging strategy — and any great marketing strategy — is to land new business. But, your specific company has its own overarching goals and marketing-specific goals. That’s where your expertise comes in.
If you’re directing marketing strategy for a firm that provides premium business services, your main goal may be to generate qualified sales leads and nurture them into clients. If you’re at a software company that offers web-based business solutions, your number one goal may be to drive traffic to your website and get visitors to start free trials. Without having well-defined goals and measuring your progress toward them, you’ll have a tough time convincing the boardroom that your blog posts are worth your time and their money.
Identify your B2B audience
Chances are, at some point during your time leading your company’s marketing efforts, you’ve had a conversation about who you’re trying to reach. This is the meat of high-level marketing; this is your world. You’re not just marketing; you’re managing a brand.
Some marketing agencies and departments will even go so far as to create client or customer personas to really nail down who their customers are. They will fill out fake Facebook profiles with interests, tendencies, Likes, statuses — the whole nine yards — just to gain a rich understanding of their target audiences. This is intense brand messaging, and it’s a conversation worth having, but fortunately, you don’t need to go crazy with Facebook to run an effective blog.
Just answer these few, basic questions and come up with 3-5 target audiences you aim to reach with your writing.
- What interests do they have?
- What drives them?
- How old are they?
- What industries do they work in?
- What kinds of companies might they work for?
- What positions might they hold at these companies?
- What kinds of products or services are they trying to sell?
- What business challenges do they have?
- Who are they?
When you answer these questions, remember that you’re trying to identify audiences consisting of people who would benefit from the information you can provide.
These audiences should be the people who drive your business forward. They buy your products and services, increase your marketing reach or make your business better. You may be able to answer many of these questions by sitting down and having lunch with your company’s executives. Even you don’t have much access to your executives and can only get a very few minutes to ask a couple questions, you can still glean useful information for your company blog.
Identify the kinds of content that will satisfy your readers
You content has to balance a combination of being promotional and informative. Some of the best business blogs provide informative content that gives their readers a deeper understanding of their products and services while making them more likely to buy.
As an industrial marketing agency, we put a heavy emphasis on providing useful content, since people dislike being “salesmanned.” But we unabashedly ask our readers to request a marketing assessment so we can generate sales leads.
We’re informative, but we direct readers to the next step in the sales funnel with every blog post. Here are three great places to start when you’re thinking of content ideas to reach the people who make up your audiences:
- List out the sales points that tend to convince the people in your target audiences to ultimately make a buying decision.
- Write out answers to the commonly asked questions that you or others in your company are constantly addressing.
- Create a list of original and insightful ideas that provide thought leadership on the issues that affect your industry. Think of issues that also intersect with the industries of the people who buy your products and services.
You can start in plenty of places and draft up a vast array of business content ideas, from photo shoots and animated shorts to guerilla marketing billboards. But at Gorilla 76, we believe simple marketing is smart marketing. Start with the low-hanging fruit.
One of the easiest ways to get content ideas is simply to interview people at every level of your company. They can provide you with the issues, answers and sales points that can drive your B2B blog.
Make a content bank and a content calendar to take action on your ideas
Once you’ve created lists of thought leadership issues, frequently asked questions and sales points, you can refine your content ideas and create a content bank. By this point, you’ve done a big chunk of the work. Your content bank is simply a place where you keep a running list of content ideas that you can turn into useful blog posts. We like to use Evernote, a cloud-based tool that’s perfect for professional writers who like to collaborate on ongoing projects. But you can use something as simple as a Word Doc to keep a list.
Next, plan out the all-important content calendar. You’re a marketing veteran, and you’ve led marketing projects, so you know the importance of doing things on a schedule. Google loves a regularly updated blog, so you need to plug and chug ideas into a timeline, with enough lead time to get posts published by your due dates. We use Google Calendar as a collaborative tool to plan Gorilla 76 events, and we use Basecamp to track our progress toward completing projects, but any old-fashioned calendar can work.
So, how often should you blog?
In B2B blogging, more is better. The bottom line is the more you blog, the more results you will get — and no, you don’t need to worry about diminishing returns with content creation.
The number one, highest payoff marketing platform is undisputed — email. And the best way to get email addresses is by generating website traffic from the marketing platform with the second highest payoff — organic search. Some statistics from Hubspot to ease your mind and show your CEO that blogging pays off:
- 92 percent of companies that blog multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog
- 82 percent of marketers who blog once per day acquired a customer using their blog
- 57 percent of marketers who blog monthly acquired a customer through their blog
The bottom line is just blog baby blog!
Even if you can only realistically pull off one blog post per month, it can make a positive impact for your business. At Gorilla 76, we have an experienced and talented content team that crafts a steady flow of content for us and for our clients.
A great blogging strategy is nothing without great execution.
Leads and sales will elude you if you lack a lead-driven blogging strategy. But all the strategizing in the world won’t get you anywhere without the content. Download and read our business blogging guide to learn both the strategy and the tactics that will turn your business blog into a lead-generating machine.