The five “Bes” of B2B communications
As a communications industry, we have spent a lot of energy trying to put a flashy marketing name to the value we can add for businesses. But oftentimes we try to make B2B and enterprise communications something it’s not. We can over complicate matters or very easily create programs that aren’t scalable or, quite frankly, interesting. So, how can we create better B2B communications programs? Here’s my Five “Bes” for B2B Communications.
Be human Sometimes the simplest of ideas becomes the most complex. We can do messaging workshops and narrative development brainstorms and audience development until we have countless reports to help us create a content strategy. But often times we forget that even in the most deep enterprise verticals of B2B products, we are ultimately talking to (and selling to) a human.
Instead of stuffing in as many keywords as possible and positioning every piece of content as a peer-reviewed journal contribution, speak to your industry colleagues with reverence, respect and natural language. Look at the emails you receive. Look at the conversations you have. Look at the customer support materials. Look for the human voice and look how it can connect to the reader or viewer much easier.
When we make videos, we tell the person on screen to make eye contact with the viewer. You’re not speaking to a camera, but a person. It’s the same with press releases, blog posts or social media. Make eye contact with your audience through the written word. Use shorter sentences and show some passion sometimes.
Don’t be afraid of an exclamation point!
Be creative We have seen it all. We saw your attempt at forcing a video to go “viral.” We saw the infographics. We saw the first two vlogs of that weekly vlog series that oddly enough published two in a row, once a few weeks later apologizing for not making one and then the silence after that too…
The concept of creativity can quickly get lost in an enterprise setting. It is all too easy to all back on the blue shirt and khaki history of B2B Marketing. Attempts at creativity sometimes feel forced or positioned poorly. But oftentimes, the willingness to take a risk with content can reap rewards. Producing an interactive mobile app to boost user engagement for example might sound like a mistargeted resource, but if it can increase year over year retention by 15 percent, what’s that worth to your business?
Being creative doesn’t mean edgy graphics or adding extra bokeh to your Instagram filters. It means addressing content and storytelling through a different or unexpected lens. Take a risk that you’re willing to take again and again in order to ensure it’s successful. Weekly user groups, Facebook brand stories that are based on real-users sharing how-tos or adding an augmented reality layer to your next white paper can all stand out.
Be precise Be right, be brief, be gone. Not all content needs to be a 20-page missive on the latest unique value add. Say it in human language, using real words and you’ll be amazed with how much you can see with such few words.
Don’t be afraid of short sentences. You know how many words my favorite sentences to write have?
See, using typography and using strong, actionable language, you can hammer a point concisely and effectively. Reaching the part of a reader’s brain that gets them pumped to take action is one of the core reasons to do anything public relations or demand gen.
Be findable Being findable is a crucial misstep of a lot of B2B marketing and communications programs. We want to put every piece of content behind a registration gate. Collecting MQLs becomes the top driver of any content campaign. Why? Because it’s easy to measure and assign an ROI to. And while I do recommend adding in gated content to your content strategy, it’s crucial to create content that the average person can access, consume and utilize.
Having content that is discoverable to humans is also more likely to be found by web crawlers and impact your SEO benefits as well. Factors such as social sharing, content freshness and authority continue to be common factors in your page rankings. By creating content that is meant to be publicly consumed, you can have a dramatic impact on SEO as well.
One final reason to have your information readily available is it conditions your audience to treat you as the authority on your product. If your communications program establishes your website as the best resource for your product, you will boost the engagement of your content and give people a hub of information to seek out when they need answers. Don’t let a defunct Youtube channel be how people get their first line of customer support for your product.
Be measurable If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. Let’s unpack that a bit. If you can’t prove that your content is getting low traction or poor engagement or not creating MQLs, you can’t adjust variables to address that failure. On the flip side, if you can’t prove that your video series is killing it and driving pipeline or reducing time to close, then you can’t take credit for it.
Thinking through the metrics and variables you want to measure before publishing content is a vital step. Simply installing Google Analytics tracking code and the Facebook and Twitter tracking pixels will ensure that at a minimum you are collecting the data you want to look at. Determining how you analyze and utilize those metrics is the next step. Without good information, you can’t make educated decisions on how to move content programs or sales campaigns forward. Even tracking vanity metrics is a good start and can shed a lot of actionable insights on what your audience wants from you.