How Remarkable Does Your B2B Content Need to Be?

How Remarkable Does Your B2B Content Need to Be?
Michele Linn - Mon Aug 02, 2010 @ 04:24AM
Comments: 17

Remarkable B2B ContentI have been thinking a lot about the concept of "remarkable" content lately. What is it and how can I more consistently deliver this (and help others do the same)?

Several weeks ago, I read this post from Jon Morrow over at Copyblogger called 20 Warning Signs that Your Content Sucks (I know - great title). It gave me pause and made me wonder if I'm really creating content that is worthy.

I also loved this post from Frank Reed on content anticipation: think about how you can provide the content that people look forward to getting (for instance, he waits for his next issue of Inc. or daily emails Greg Laurie). Wow - I want to be that person who is creating content that others are salivating for.

I think these are fantastic goals to strive for, but thinking about content in this light can also be paralyzing, especially when you are just getting started. If you wait to only deliver what is truly remarkable, will you deliver anything at all?

If you're feeling like this, here's what I recommend.

Be consistent
One thing I think that helps is to have a plan to create content consistently, be it a blog, a newsletter or a series of white papers or eBooks. (As a note, though, commit to doing only what you can realistically accomplish - don't have a bunch of content that is started and stopped. Need help thinking through this? Check out a post I wrote for MarketingProfs.)

I'm not suggesting for a second that consistent content should simply be thrown out there, but I have found that the very act of having a schedule and sticking to it helps get the juices flowing. If you are stuck, brainstorm questions your readers have.

Be open to feedback
Oftentimes, you don't know what is going to resonate until you try it. Take what you learn -- what was well-received and what wasn't -- and use that data to find what people want to hear about. Here's a post from Galen De Young about various metrics to consider when evaluating your blog, for instance.

So, be open to writing about different topics, and experiment with different with different formats. It's trite, but there really is no better way to learn than by doing.

Provide the "food" your readers really need
I love trying new foods, seeing the different combinations of flavors and textures But, I don't need this kind of remarkable every day. Instead, I need authentic, whole food: fruit, veggies, whole grains, protein, low-fat dairy, etc. It sounds boring, but by and large, that's what my body needs. In fact, that's what makes these simple foods remarkable.

You can think of your readers in the same light: they love the different, but what they also need from you is the nuts and bolts content that will help them do their job better. Oftentimes, there is nothing sexy about this kind of content, but it's exactly what they need.

Looking for ideas?

  • Check out this great post from Rahel Baillie with four suggestions on how marketers can better match content to customer needs.
  • Get inspired with these three ideas from Stephanie on some remarkable content that you can create.

What are your thoughts on what makes content remarkable? Any tips you can share?

Related posts:

About the author: Michele is the Executive Editor of the Content Marketing Institute where where she works with a fabulous group of contributors who know a lot about content marketing. She's also a B2B content marketing consultant who has a passion for helping companies use content to connect with their ideal buyers. You can follow her onTwitter @michelelinn or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B.

Comments: 17


1. Derek Slater  |  my website   |   Mon Aug 02, 2010 @ 04:56AM

Good thoughts, Michele. If I could expand on your "good food" point, and make explicit the point that's implicit in all you say here, the golden rule is Talk to Your Customers!

If you ask them what's keeping them awake at night, and what they're doing about it, you'll constantly have good fodder for creating useful content. But here's the key IMHO: Typically the customer's solution to a given problem will involve much more than just buying and plugging in a product (yours or someone else's). And if you write about that additional context, that's what makes your content far more useful and far more likely to spread than standard marketing collateral.

That capture and discussion of additional context - business processes, etc - is perhaps an area where some B2B marketers can learn from (good) B2B journalism. Of course there is also a lot that B2B journalists can learn from B2B marketers, which is why I'm here reading your excellent blog! :)

2. Michele Linn  |  my website   |   Mon Aug 02, 2010 @ 05:12AM

Hi Derek,

What a fantastic point. I am working on a project now where customer feedback is key, and I am learning SO much by talking with people. Every conversation has these little nuggets of gold for me. I don't think you can--or should--underestimate the value of this kind of feedback!

Love your thoughts around context, too. That one is more food for thought for me.

Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation!

3. Rob Leavitt  |  my website   |   Mon Aug 02, 2010 @ 05:39AM

Thanks Michelle - good stuff. Another point I'd add, and it's implicit in your "food" comment, is to make sure you're really focused on specific stakeholders. It's amazing to me how often my clients are stumped by my most basic first question in a content-related project: Who is this for? After a long pause, I too often get a laundry list of every imaginable client type, prospect type, influencer, etc. Writing for "everyone" generally means writing for no one in particular. A simple test is to think about who the content is NOT for. If you can't come up with anyone, it may be time to think harder!

4. Bob Scheier   |  my website   |   Mon Aug 02, 2010 @ 11:15AM

To riff off some of the great comments so far, I'd quote an analyst friend who said "You only have to know more than the person you're talking to." In other words, consider the recipient (per the other comments) and make sure you're advancing that reader's knowledge. Everyone in every business -- car repair, brain surgery, network management -- knows some things by second nature that seem like wizadry to those who don't live and breath the field. Find those readers, and the "wizadry" you can offer them, and go for it.

5. Michele Linn   |   Tue Aug 03, 2010 @ 04:31AM

@Rob: So true! Understanding who your stakeholders is essential, and it's something that is surprisingly easy to overlook. It's easy to get caught in the trap of wanting to be all things to all people (which generally makes you not that valuable to anyone.)

@Bob: Whenever I write, I always try to write to one person, not a group of people or some nebulous title. It seems to help make copy more conversational. Also, great point about us having this knowledge that seems like second nature to us, but really valuable info to someone else!

6. Corinne.  |  my website   |   Tue Aug 03, 2010 @ 05:53AM

Great article Michele. Writing good b2b copy is really kind of a "trial and error" thing that just needs to be learned over time- what works and doesn't work. These are great tips though. I like the one about being consistent because updating your site-especially with a blog- helps improve SEO as well as keep your customers engaged. Being open to feedback is of course always important too!

7. Peter Childs  |  my website   |   Tue Aug 03, 2010 @ 06:43AM

What about video content? Does it follow the same rules??

I run a cooking video site that provides a dinner suggestion (main dish & 2 sides) supported by a short instructional video and a daily shopping list via twitter (default scale) or email (to serve 2 - 12).

I've purposely removed personality - to focus on the food and process. Does that make it less compelling.

would be interested in your thoughts.

8. Michele Linn   |   Tue Aug 03, 2010 @ 08:19AM

@Corrine: You said, "Writing good b2b copy is really kind of a 'trial and error' thing that just needs to be learned over time." I couldn't agree more. It's different for every company and audience; one-size fits all doesn't exist in this space!

@Peter: I'm not sure if I could call the above post a set of rules, but rather some things to think about when creating content. Compelling (and remarkable for that matter) are pretty relative terms. If you are meeting the needs of your audience - and compelling them to take an action - then I think you can certainly consider your content a success. You could try something that brings more personality, but it may not be necessary for your audience. Like Corrine said, it's all about trial and error. I appreciate the question!

9. Peter Childs  |  my website   |   Tue Aug 03, 2010 @ 11:09AM

Thanks for your suggestions. I have been thinking of how to add personality while keeping the focus on the food. Think that might help. And making it easier to provide feedback my help me understand the audience.

Thanks again.

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