Too often, marketers get hung up on the idea that B2B content and B2C content require wholly different approaches, and they don’t. Whether you’re selling blue jeans, cheese, enterprise-grade software or wind turbines, the ultimate goal is for the reader to first feel an emotion, and then be motivated to act. Whether that action is sharing socially, sending to an executive, buying or simply engaging with a vendor, it won’t happen if your content wasn’t useful, enjoyable, inspired and empathetic.
Whether you’re in content marketing for a B2B company or a B2C company, you have more in common with your fellow content marketers across all industries than you might think.
It’s Not B2B vs. B2C Content, It’s Content for Simple vs. Complex
First of all, instead of focusing on the difference between B2B and B2C, marketers should think in terms of simple buying cycles and complex buying cycles.
In simple buying cycles, there are few touch points in the sales funnel. For example, someone looking to buy cheese doesn’t have to get various levels of approvals to buy cheese. He just has to choose it and maybe have a recipe in mind. He doesn’t need a whitepaper about how to choose cheese, or a case study about why your cheese is the best. But a site full of great cheese recipes could be very helpful.
On the other hand, complex sales cycles have a much broader set of personas influencing purchase -- including the end user, but also the IT person, executive and so on. As a result, if you’re selling products with complex sales cycles you need to produce content designed for each persona involved in the buying process. And your content needs to be aligned across a long, multi-touch buying cycle. The content early on should be broad, educational and entertaining to catch users’ attention; the mid cycle content should engage executives and present a business case to consider when making a purchase; and content for late in the cycle should pertain specifically to your product and your company.
In every one of those examples, for both a simple sales cycle and a complex sales cycle, the message has to be informative, entertaining, and empathetic. But complex sales require content for more personas and more stages of the buying process.
Mind Your Measurements
Another difference between the two cycles is the ability to measure content impact. In some cases, it can be easier to measure impact for complex sales cycles because there is a CRM system in the middle -- you can simply tie the content downloaded by contacts attached to an account to the outcome of any deals closed at that account.
In simple buying cycles, on the other hand, what led a customer to purchase is a bit more opaque -- especially if it is sold through a channel. For instance, a customer purchasing cheese could have been inspired by a great cheese recipe on the vendor’s website or the customer could have just been craving cheese.
But that’s missing the larger point here. Sure, there are some differences between B2B and B2C marketers, but like measurement they’re smaller, and more tactical differences. The big things are constant throughout: Empathize with your consumers’ needs. Create content that is on their schedule, not yours. Communicate informative and entertaining messages instead of blatant sales pitches. After all, we’re all marketing to people no matter what we’re marketing. And people, whether they represent a company or themselves, will ultimately decide to engage with your campaign or ignore it.
Title image courtesy of 75tiks (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: Read more about brands as publishers here.