Jackson Marketing Inc.

B2B Content Marketing Strategy Guide for Small Content Teams

If you’re a B2B marketer, you can barely make it through the day without encountering at least one message online about content marketing and the need to document your B2B content marketing strategy

For more than 10 years, the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs have been sharing research about what best-in-class and laggard organizations are doing when it comes to content marketing. For 2021, the story hasn’t changed: 60 percent of the most successful marketers in the study have a documented strategy.

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of marketers do not have a documented strategy

With that data reported year-over-year, you would think all the companies out there that still don’t have a written strategy would hop on the bandwagon. Nope. In fact, 67 percent of those surveyed for the B2B Content Marketing: 2021 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report still say they don’t have a written strategy in place. In past reports, the top reasons reported by participants for not documenting a content strategy in their organizations were:

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Small Team Size

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Not Enough Time

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Not Important

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Not Needed

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Other

Benefits of a Documented Content Marketing Strategy

There is not a lot to say to reasons three through five — maybe these marketers just don’t believe the hype or the data presented. However, marketers who find themselves in predicaments one and two may find their content marketing process easier and more productive if they buckle down and put in the time. I know — easier said than done, and we’ll talk about potential approaches to help you out later in this guide. But first, let’s look at the benefits:

You’ll waste less time trying to figure out what topics to address.
Your freelance creator and team members who contribute will have a guide to focus their contributions.

You can focus more on managing the execution, measuring outcomes, and refining strategy to ensure you’re meeting business goals.

You can reduce “shiny object” syndrome where you chase the latest trend out of desperation of uncertainty.
When a pandemic strikes, you can review your documented plan and make changes in a calm and collected manner rather than spinning your wheels in a panic trying to figure out what needs to change.

So are you convinced to give this thing a shot? Since you’re still reading, I’m going to take that as a “yes.” Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Begin with Business Goals 

Develop Personas to Prioritize Buyer and Customer-focused Content
Develop Your Brand Voice and Style
Create Your Content Marketing Calendar
Structure and Systems for Success
Ready to Strategize?

Begin with Business Goals

For your content marketing strategy to be considered a success and gain the support of the executive team, it must support corporate goals. Writing blog posts for the sake of writing blog content isn’t a strategy; it’s a sign of confusion or desperation. B2B companies need to get the answers to these questions to ensure the foundation of their strategy is strong.
  • $What does the organization want to accomplish within the next 12 months? (Increase sales by X percent, reduce costs by Y percent, etc.)
  • $What does marketing need to do to contribute to the achievement of corporate goals and objectives? (Generate X MQLs and Y SQLs; increase ROI for online spend by Z percent, etc.)
  • $Whom are we trying to reach?
  • $What is our unique selling proposition or a competitive differentiator?
  • $What will we measure and how often?
  • $Do I have a budget to cover the required resources and tools?
  • $What is my content approval process? (especially important in regulated industries)
  • $What is the ultimate picture of success and do all stakeholders agree?

25 Questions You Need to Ask When Creating a Content Strategy

Careful thought must go into your content strategy for it to be effective. To help you develop yours, we’ve put together a list of 25 questions you and your team should consider as you build your plan and make your content vision and marketing come to life.

You’ve got to know where you’re going before you chart the journey. These questions will help you ensure whatever you do with content will help move the company forward.

Develop Personas to Prioritize Buyer and Customer-focused Content

We mentioned the question, “who are we trying to reach?” in the section above. However, just knowing the “who” isn’t enough for a strong buyer and customer-focused content marketing strategy. You have to dig into the “how” and “why” behind each persona. What motivates someone to buy from your business?

So what is a buyer persona? HubSpot defines “buyer persona” as follows: “A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”

Defining the Who

When you create your buyer persona(s), your goal is to develop a concept — a character of sorts — whom you can understand and even empathize with. Your persona should help you:

  • $Understand the buyer’s job title, job description, and how his or her employer evaluates the individual’s job performance
  • $Define the typical challenges and pain points this buyer type faces
  • $Buying behaviors
  • $How the buyer will likely look for a product or service like yours —
  • Lsearch keywords
  • Lsocial media
  • Lreview sites
  • Lcolleagues/friends
  • Lindustry media and influencers
  • $What formats of content the person typically like to use
  • $Other demographics that may influence a buyer when it comes to your product or service

Defining the What, How, and Why of a Persona’s Decision to Change

When creating your buyer persona, get a little granular when assessing the buying process. The Buyer Persona Institute defines five different areas of buyer insights that you should consider when crafting personas:

  • tPriority initiative — what caused the buyer to consider changing from the status quo and start looking for a different or new option? Think beyond pain points — what is the typical “last straw” scenario that pushes a persona to consider a change.
  • tSuccess factors — what is the persona expecting, in terms of success, after switching solutions? You can list rational, logical expectations as well as emotional and aspirational ones.
  • tPerceived barriers — what is likely to get in the way of a purchase decision? These barriers may be internal, external, real, or imagined.
  • tDecision criteria — what are the top three to five criteria a buyer will use to compare solutions and determine the winning option?
  • tBuyer’s journey — what is the role of this persona at each stage of the buyer’s journey? Will he or she be the final decision maker? Who are the influencers? Depending on the size of the investment, many organizations purchase by committee. Therefore, you may need to create influencer personas, too. Will your target persona be involved when:
  • $realization of a required change occurs?
  • $researching solution alternatives?
  • $considering the available options?
  • $approval of the final selection occurs?

How do I get all this information?

Maybe you’re wondering, “how am I going to get all this data?” If you don’t have the budget to develop your own market survey, use information that is already at your disposal.

  • $Interview sales representatives about the people who buy and don’t buy.
  • $Review Google Analytics Audience reports to learn more about who visits your site.
google analytics
  • $Use FollowerWonk to create a word cloud of your followers’ bios (which words stand out — clues to who your personas are).
follower wonk
  • $Review your Facebook Audience Insights, Twitter Analytics, LinkedIn Page analytics, and other social media platform reporting tools that give audience details.
  • $Talk to new customers about why they selected your brand, how they found you, how they would describe you.
  • $Survey existing customers about what keywords they would use to look for a company like yours. Try tools like Typeform, SurveyMonkey, WuFoo, or any of the free and paid survey options available today.
  • $Read available research about the use of social media and online marketing by people in your industry.
  • $Try using SEO solutions like SEMRush or Moz’s Link Explorer (ten free queries per month) to discover who links to you and your competitors. What do these sites and influencers say? Who is saying it?
  • $Use these same SEO tools to understand what queries and terms buyers use on search engines to find your competitors’ sites and your own. (Moz’s free Keyword Explorer gives you ten free searches per month.)

Persona Creation Tools

Once you’ve gathered your research together, synthesize your findings to develop your buyer persona. You may even consider giving him or her a name, job title, job description, and other background story elements to help you and your team keep the pertinent facts in mind about what’s important to this persona when he or she researches solutions online.

Develop Your Brand Voice and Style

Woo! We made it past the persona. Now, with your well-researched persona in hand, you can begin to develop or refine your brand’s voice and style. A terrific place to start is by thinking about the personality and style that would appeal to your target buyer. Are they looking for accounting or finance software — you may want to be confident, friendly, but serious about business. Is your buyer looking for HR solutions to improve workplace culture? You can be friendly, fun, and casual. Think about your brand as a person — would your target audience trust the personification of your brand?

Next, document your content vision, mission, and philosophy to help further develop your brand’s style and voice.

Content Marketing Vision

Your content marketing vision statement should align with your corporate vision statement (if you have one). Your content vision is aspirational and focuses on the big picture (or sometimes future-oriented goals).

The B2B Mix’s content vision (how we hope to help the potential customer through content)

To provide education and information to business owners and sales & marketing professionals to help them achieve business growth and professional goals.

Aligning Your Mission and Vision to Support Your Brand’s Goals

Learn how to craft a content strategy that supports your brand’s mission and vision as well as aligns with the company’s business goals. This post is fifth in a five-part series on developing and executing a content vision for a brand.

Content Marketing Mission

Your content marketing mission explains what you want to accomplish through your content marketing efforts.

The B2B Mix’s content mission (how we hope to serve our business through content)

To help stakeholders in the B2B marketing process evaluate digital marketing options and discover resources available through Jackson Marketing to help their businesses grow.

Content Philosophy

A content philosophy helps you determine how you will fulfill your vision and mission while working to achieve business goals. A content philosophy considers the following questions:

  • $What are our corporate values, including our mission and vision?
  • $What’s the state of our corporate culture?
  • $Are clients satisfied with the current communications from our brand?
  • $Do prospects get the information they expect when they access our content?
  • $What do we expect from a content marketing investment?
The answer to these questions will help you select the right content philosophy and personality for your business. Will your product be the star of your content? Will you treat the content as a product in and of itself? Or will the content become an extension of your corporate culture? Please read my post on ClearVoice.com to learn more about creating a content philosophy.

Consider your vision and mission in combination with corporate values to start defining your brand’s tone, image, and overall personality.

Content Philosophy: The Question to Answer Before Creating a Thing

What’s your content philosophy? What do you want content to accomplish for your brand? Read how other brands are using content to reach their business goals. This post is fourth in a five-part series on mastering your content vision and mission.

Importance of Brand Consistency: 5 Key Approaches for Keeping Aligned

The more consistent your messaging, the more consistent your branding – whether via words, design, offerings or perspective. But are you creating content with brand consistency in mind? Learn how it can help build brand awareness and develop trust and loyalty with customers.

Brand Consistency

We live in an age when just about anyone can create something and publish it to the wide world in the blink of an eye. If you don’t have brand guidelines in place, all of your content work could come out as a jumbled mess. Develop brand guidelines to ensure consistency of your brand’s:

  • $voice and tone
  • $visuals — logo/colors/fonts and how to use them
  • $trademark/registered trademark usage
  • $templates (emails, business cards, letterhead, slide deck templates)
  • $sales playbook content
  • $editorial calendar topics