The Ultimate B2B Content Marketing Plan

In 7 easy steps

Implementation of a solid B2B Content Marketing has become crucial for B2B’s to survive in the era of the buyer. Manceppo offers you the ultimate 7 step approach to create your B2B Content Marketing plan!

Decision-makers in the business world have become self-sufficient in gathering relevant data, knowledge and information. Information is widely available and easy to access via a broad spectrum of channels. As a result, the purchasing process for businesses is, largely, done online – from user to executive level.

This doesn’t imply that personal contact has become less important, however, most potential customers go online to search for information. This presents your organization with the opportunity to put yourself forward early in the buyer journey. There’s a virtual treasure trove of information available online to potential customers. Therefore, it becomes crucial to be the go-to destination for searching target audiences looking to consume information. This guide privides you with a proven 7 step approach to implement a B2B Content Marketing plan for your organization.

What is B2B Content Marketing?

Key to success is helping suspects, leads and prospects throughout the entire decision-making process  plays an important role. In content marketing we call this helping ‘buyer persona’s’ in their ‘buyer journey’. Offering relevant and appealing content via the right channels is key. Increasingly, B2B brands are starting to resemble publishers. Publishers, like no one else, know how to understand and penetrate a target group. By bringing the wishes, dreams and needs of a particular target audience into their vision and anticipating interactions through highly relevant, in-depth or entertaining content, they forge a connection and reach that can be capitalized through advertising. In increasing measures, companies are looking to establish this connection and reach themselves and capitalize on it by selling their products and services.

The relationship between content marketing and media companies becomes clear in the definition laid out by the Content Marketing Institute:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Although the goal of marketing is, ultimately, to increase profit and turnover, it needn’t be the primary objective for each marketing initiative. A B2B content marketing strategy also contributes to secondary objectives, such as raising brand awareness, brand engagement and achieving recognized thought leadership.

The ultimate 7 step approach to success

Based on based on our vast experience with numerous content marketing implementations,  Manceppo identifies 7 key steps to implement a B2B content marketing strategy.

  • Step 1: Content Marketing as extension of your Business Strategy
  • Step 2: Plan based on Buyer Journey & Buyer Persona’s
  • Step 3: B2B Content Creation
  • Step 4: B2B Content Marketing Media Strategy
  • Step 5: B2B Lead Generation & Lead Nurturing
  • Step 6: Organizing B2B Content Marketing
  • Step 7: B2B Content Marketing Automation

Our step-by-step framework comes with a free set of B2B Content Marketing Templates, to help you build an effective, lead-generating B2B content marketing strategy.

To apply the 7 step approach to partner marketing read the blog The Ultimate Partner Marketing Model to Accelerate B2B Sales.

Step 1: Content Marketing as extension of your Business Strategy

Your B2B content marketing strategy must be an extension of the strategy of the organization. In B2B content marketing, helpfulness comes first in the entire process. That can be a good start before any solutions are considered. Direct communications concerning products or services are not necessarily useful at this point. Instead, this discovery stage involves pointing toward developments, trends and business issues that are related to the organization’s portfolio. You can help customers form these ideas, thereby coming into direct contact with possible future customers at an early stage. In this marketing process, the development of a good first contact is hugely important. The development of relationships only works based on authenticity. This can be warranted when the communication is aligned with the vision and the core values of the organization.

When an organization makes the decision to strategically implement B2B content marketing, it’s important to realize that B2B content marketing is a process, not a campaign. Traditionally, marketing divisions have always thought in terms of campaigns aimed at direct sales. If sales revenue falls behind, a campaign is set up to create new leads. B2B content marketing has a long-term nature. It is about anticipating actions at an early stage of the buying process, which eventually leads to more customers and increased turnover. Suspects aren’t converted into hot prospects overnight. Throughout the various buying stages, potential affiliates require different types of content. The alignment of content with the different buying stages through lead nurturing demands a process-oriented approach.

Step 2: Plan based on Buyer Journey & Buyer Persona’s

When you have a clear business strategy in place, the first step in the B2B content marketing process involves the development of communications concepts for the various product-market combinations around which the organization focuses. At this stage, starting points must be established as to what type of content is shared, with whom, by what methods and via which media. The most important step here is to formulate answers to the following set of questions:

  • Who are your key buyer personas?
  • What are their challenges, fears and dreams relating to the buyer journey to your offering?
  • What messages are then most effective to share with them?
  • What formats are the best fit (blogs, social media, papers, video, etc.)?
  • What media channels will be most effective (search, email, social, native ads, etc.)?

When it comes to business-related buying decisions, there will always be multiple decision-makers involved in the buyer journey. These decision-makers and influencers (or buyer persona’s) have different roles and priorities in terms of the decision to buy. The need for information of these decision-making unit (DMU) members also changes during the buying process. The initial information requirement will involve forming ideas, whereas in the latter stages it will be aimed at orientation. Mapping relevant content to the right persona’s and in the right stage of their buyer journey will be essential for success of your content marketing efforts.

You can also use our free B2B Buyer Journey Template and B2B Buyer Persona Template to get you started.

Buyer Journey Content Mapping

Step 3: B2B Content Creation

Once you formulated an answer to the set of questions in the previous step, the necessary content and assets must be created. For maximum effect, different content formats can be linked. For example, a white paper can be linked to various blogs for websites and infographics for interaction on social media. Fundamentally, content involves the use and the conception of different content formats, their interrelation and the optimization of each channel.

Plan content for buyer journey

Step 4: B2B Content Marketing Media Strategy

Content is effective and relevant but only when it is consumed, valued and shared by the right audience. The next step in the B2B content marketing process is communications. What will be your media mix? The basic layout for communications is a combination of owned, earned and paid media, which are defined as follows:

  • Owned media includes your own channels, such as your SEO optimized website, social media and email newsletters.
  • Earned media includes all unpaid, third-party media.
  • Paid media is all media that has been bought, such as traditional advertising, advertorials, Google AdWords, sponsored emails, banner networks, sponsored social media messages and in-video advertising.

Plan owned, paid and earned media

In B2B content marketing, the attention has shifted from paid media to owned and earned media, but paid media is gaining momentum again. So to get started and accelerate a campaign, paid media is normally part of the plan.

Step 5: B2B Lead Generation & Lead Nurturing

In the end, the returns on marketing are in the conversion from an unfamiliar visitor to a loyal customer. In between that there is a broad spectrum of stages or steps – from likes to subscriptions, followers, leads and prospects. To measure the performance of content marketing, key performance indicators (KPIs) are important. By monitoring and interpreting KPIs, decisions can be made to improve performance, such as optimizing titles and user interfaces, aligning better with your target audience, optimizing per device and making better use of visuals.

Different types of conversion can be examined depending on the objectives, including;

  • Clicks, views and visits
  • Likes, fans and followers
  • Engagement ratios
  • Subscribers
  • Response and leads
  • Sales
  • Promoter
  • Churn

KPI's for Modern Marketing Management

Step 6: Organizing B2B Content Marketing

B2B content marketing sounds appealing and logical, but it’s hard work. Research shows that in content marketing, the production of both sufficient and appealing content is the biggest challenge. Additionally,, the best content is in the heads of different employees, and not everyone is keen to start writing blogs, participating in webinars and being active on social media. Hence, facilitating your organization is critically important. And when the decision is made to outsource the creation of content, the message and tone of voice need to be on target.

The production of content and the management of B2B content marketing requires new skills and competencies in the organization. The B2B content marketing process shares parallels with the publishing companies, but most organizations are not (yet) publishing companies. The different skills are contained in organizational silos. As such, different people or departments are responsible for SEO, PR, social media, product marketing and the customer magazine. The challenge here is how multidisciplinary teams can work together to create and maintain the most effective and efficient process. Continue reading on organizing B2B Content Marketing in our blogpost ‘Roles and responsibilities to organize B2B content marketing‘.

Step 7: B2B Content Marketing Technology

Although content marketing concept is centuries-old, recent technological developments are what is driving the recent popularity of the field. The final building block involves technology and different software tools that are required to organize an efficient, effective content marketing process. Think of content management systems, marketing automation, email marketing software and lead management.

Modern marketers benefit from an abundance of great, easy-to-use marketing tools, including WordPress, MailChimp and Salesforce. However, combining apps into an integrated platform is a challenge. Manceppo offers a cloud-based integration that gives marketers a central store for content and profiles. Our smart workflows empower marketers to build a low-cost marketing automation platform using their existing tools.