12 Dec Making B2B 1-2-1
10 Tips to Improve Authenticity
Many B2B marketers’ channel selection is prolific. White papers, infographics, global surveys and blogs hit a range of media platforms with tightly controlled regularity. Their superficial impact is measurable. But what do they really achieve?
I’m sure plenty of managers – and their target audiences – will instantly recognise the following scenario. Partners in a global consulting firm regularly appear to post ‘thought leadership’ across a carefully sequenced range of channels. Corporate website, business-focused social media, sponsored editorial all play their part in creating a barrage of brand profile raising activity. They all drive awareness, engagement and sales. Or do they?
How many people really believe that article on ‘all you need to know’ about Blockchain/ IoT/Britain after Brexit or whatever the topic happens to be was actually written by the ‘author’. Especially if they know that she is currently on vacation, or he is apparently sharing his wisdom at half past three on Sunday morning! This kind of content is so obviously channel-managed, and so inauthentic, that it washes over its audience. So what’s going wrong?
The channel strategy, with its allure of technology and apparent certainties, has grown to dominate what really matters: the content itself and its quality. To be truly effective, producers of B2B content need to recognise that they are not in the business of making an instant sale. Instead, they should be creating a climate of influence. This is about building an authentic and consistent voice that speaks useful messages in a credible language. Here are some suggestions:
1. Plan your campaign. Don’t even think about channel management strategies until you have some basics in place – themes and topics, cross-checked with the current market and its needs and your commercial goals.
2. Put content quality first. Ask yourself: “Is your content original?”… “Does it add to the debate?” If you can replace your company name with another’s then it’s just adding to the noise.
3. Recognise that short isn’t automatically sweet. The shorter any piece of writing has to be, the better it has to be. Don’t think that ‘snackable’ content can ever mean ‘not very good but at least it’s short’.
4. Publish for human beings by human beings. Don’t ever release content that looks and feels ‘machine generated’. If it claims to come from a member of your executive team, then it should have some distinctive, personal characteristics.
5. Take rifle shots, don’t throw mud at the nearest wall. Don’t get hung up on the idea that volume is the only game in town. One paper a year that gets read by – and makes a positive impact on – six senior customers with real buying influence is infinitely more productive than forty thousand online views and no follow-up.
6. Target at the right time. Publish material at credible times that make sense to your target audience. Nobody, but nobody, will ever be sharing their blockchain blockbuster or GDPR PR piece at 4am on Sunday. Only the machines do this!
7. Consider doing things the old-fashioned way. If you’ve recently invested in a serious survey, the results deserve more than just being launched into cyber space. Think about creating a printed and personalised report that is mailed to your best 10, 100 or 1000 customers. Many of them will find this a refreshingly different approach.
8. Remember your most ‘personalised’ channel of all. Your own people are very often best placed to get content to the best places. They have regular touchpoints with customers, prospects and influencers. So make sure they know in advance what your plan of content release is.
9. Leverage your true ‘captive’ audience. Encourage a culture of involvement and comment from your own people on the content you release. This will amplify your message and reach.
10. You say it best when you say nothing at all. Sometimes, silence is golden. If you have not yet constructed your own unique point of view, keep quiet. When you finally and really have something to say, people will listen.
The key takeout is this: your channel strategy is like an irrigation system. No matter how elegantly constructed it may be, it’s useless without any water. So be a content creation rainmaker and generate great material. Then your channel strategy will really grow your reach and your impact.