Sometimes it can seem like B2C marketers get to have all the fun. They’re the ones talking directly to consumers, telling gripping stories in their blog to tug at the heartstrings of their audience, or pushing out one hilarious Facebook post after the other. They’re the ones who can get away with being informal, lively, and entertaining. There’s just no way for straightforward, professional, serious B2B marketers to put that much fun in their marketing content – is there?
Well…let’s talk about that. Here’s the thing to remember: Everyone, whether B2C or B2B, is writing content for human beings.
The term “business-to-business” makes it sound like one impersonal entity is transmitting data and statistics to another impersonal entity, but in reality, behind every corporate façade there are…people.
People who are experts at what they do, yes. People who are serious about the business they run, of course. But also, people who are just like you, just like us, and just like the consumers who enjoy the goofy Facebook posts.
So why the huge difference between B2C and B2B marketing content, then? Why is it that B2C content tends to be more fun, while B2B can be on the boring side?
Every business wants to be seen as an authoritative expert in their industry. And light-hearted humor just doesn’t convey that weight of authority. Just as it wouldn’t be appropriate to wear flip-flops to work when everyone else is wearing suits and ties, or to be cracking scatological jokes at a business meeting with a big, important client, it’s just not appropriate to write a B2B blog post that’s nothing but emotion and humor. There needs to be substance to B2B content, in order to convince potential clients that you know your stuff.
That being said, businesspeople are all still humans. And just about every human would rather read something humorous, or clever, or interesting, than something dry and boring, even if it is about an important business issue. It’s okay to crack some jokes at a business meeting – it helps break the ice and develop that relationship. And stiff, overly formal presentations don’t go over nearly as well as ones done in a friendly, conversational, professional-yet-approachable way.
So yes, B2B marketing content does need to be more on the substantive side – but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it, too. In order to create crazy successful B2B marketing content, you need to combine the best of both worlds – valuable, authoritative information conveyed in a professional way, but written with humorous, or at least interesting, touches and an approachable style.
In order to help you craft the perfect B2B marketing content for your company, we’ve put together a list of 10 tips to keep in mind as you write. Incorporate each one into your content, and you’ll be crazy successful in no time!
1. B2B content has to be valuable. This is why stories and jokes can’t be the main focus of your content. What you write has to provide information of value to your audience. That information can be couched in a story, or peppered with jokes, but it still needs to shine through as the main focus of the content. Make sure that every topic you write about will make a potential customer think, “Wow, I really do need to read that,” when they see the title.
2. B2B content must be easy to read. The type of people interested in reading B2B content are also the type of people who are busy running their own businesses, and who don’t have a lot of extra time on their hands. How do you catch the attention of someone busy, and get them to slow down for just a minute to read your content in its entirety? Make it interesting. Using humor, brief stories, and a conversational style makes content easy and pleasant to read. Dry, boring content is more likely to be quickly skimmed rather than really read, which doesn’t make for an enjoyable – or memorable – experience.
3. B2B content should be easy to remember. Humor and stories come into play here again. Which are you more likely to effortlessly remember in great detail – a story about a company’s success once they began using a certain service, or a list of facts and figures about that service? A gentle wisecrack about how much better a product is than its competitor, or percentages and research showing the differences? Putting information into an entertaining form will always boost retention.
4. B2B content needs to be easy to share. Business professionals are not going to waste their colleagues’ or clients’ time by sharing content with them that isn’t truly worthwhile. But they’re also much more likely to share something that really caught and then held their interest. Being informative is one thing – being informative and interesting is what prompts people to share.
5. B2B content should get to the point quickly. Once again, busy businesspeople = no time to waste. Even if a B2B piece is captivatingly written, if the reader can’t tell where it’s going after the first paragraph or two, he’ll abandon it as a waste of time. Getting to the point quickly doesn’t mean writing super short pieces or forgoing an interesting style – it simply means your stories and humor need to have a focus, a point, that’s clear from the get-go.
6. B2B content must be professional. Just as in our flip-flop example above, there’s a time and a place for everything. Appropriate humor? Yes. Off-color or outright silly humor? No. Concise stories that illustrate a point? Yes. Rambling tales that don’t really seem to go anywhere? No. Think of B2B content as content in an office environment, while B2C content is content relaxing at home. What’s appropriate in one place may not be in the other.
7. B2B content needs to be targeted. Because B2B audiences tend to be more focused than B2C audiences (decision-makers at certain types of retail chains as opposed to all women earning above a certain income level, for example), B2B content needs to be more narrowly targeted than B2C content does. This can actually be a good thing, though, since you can analyze what your audience’s specific pain points are, and then go after them in a very focused way. Your stories and humor can likewise be tailored to resonate with your specific audience.
8. B2B content has to be unique. If someone can read your content without being able to hear and recognize your unique voice, you’ve got a problem. In order to be considered authoritative, you’ve got to craft a unique voice all your own. And how do you accomplish this? By letting your personality shine through, writing in a conversational style, and adding in touches of your own brand of humor or storytelling skills.
9. B2B content should be based on analytics. Not all writing styles are created equal. It could very well be that your first attempts at making your content more interesting won’t be received well by your audience. Most marketing takes some trial and error before the best course of action is settled upon, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Watch your analytics, so you’ll know when you’ve hit upon the right style for your particular audience.
10. B2B content must tie into your business’s overall marketing strategy. Finally, make sure that your writing style fits your company’s brand and that the content you’re putting out there has a specific purpose within the context of your overall marketing strategy. Creating content just because everybody else is doing it won’t produce an ROI – only a carefully considered content strategy that corresponds with your overall business plan will have the result you want it to have.
Now it’s your turn! What do you think about the differences between B2C and B2B content? Do you think B2B content should be formal and impressive, or do you think that adding lighter touches here and there makes it more effective? What steps are you taking to make your B2B marketing content crazy successful?