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Finding the right content to engage your B2B niche

We’re constantly being advised to create amazing content to help cut-through in the content avalanche - the topic of this year’s B2B Marketing Annual Conference where I will be reviewing content marketing trends for 2014. It seems every new book on content marketing has its own take on amazing content from Michael Stelzner’s ‘Nuclear content’ through Lee Odden’s Rock Star content to Joe Pulizzi’s Epic Content.

There are often inspiring examples from consumer brands big, and some small, but speaking to B2B marketers in niche sectors, the question that always seems to arise is: how can I apply content marketing to my sector? Even if we see B2B examples, they are for big software companies or businesses offering content marketing services or events. So where do you start from the many content marketing options available and how do you select the most relevant content?

At Smart Insights we have developed the Content Marketing Matrix which is a tool to help B2B and B2C marketers develop the right content for their audience which also meets their commercial objectives. There’s little point in creating buzz through your content marketing if this doesn’t translate to leads and sales - many a Slideshare deck or video fails the commercial alignment test.

The Content Marketing Matrix gives a great flip-chart based activity for a workshop - here’s an example from one I ran recently.

The stages for brainstorming the content types are:

  1. Define audience. To help get focus on your sector, the starting point has naturally to be your audience; you will know the segments or personas you want to target. We’ll assume you know these! If you split up into different groups then each can look at a single persona or market. After this it’s a question of identifying the right content types from the many you could offer - you can apply the content marketing matrix to a single persona or for a core market for your products or services.
  2. Use brainstorming to identify potential content types using the matrix. You could first review the content that will be used to select the best content, but that can get in the way of creative thinking, so best to leave that to a later stage. This is where you apply the matrix, look at each sector and think which of the many content types are better for you. Ask what will work where your audience are more or less impulsive or rational?
  3. Define criteria to narrow down to select the most suitable criteria. In a workshop setting it’s useful to ask different groups to select the best ideas. But rather than doing this based on gut-feel alone, its best to select more rationally, so ask the group as a whole to select criteria first. Issues to consider may include potential for generating amplification through social media, alignment with lead generation, potential for SEO benefits and the longevity of those and opportunities to repurpose or integrate into a broader branded content campaign.

I hope you can apply this approach to your business. If you’re auditing content outside a workshop you may want to go for a slightly more structured approach where you have steps before brainstorming you audit where you review the current use of content within your company, competitors and out-of-sector examples.