5 Big Lessons B2B Marketers Can Learn from Content Entrepreneurs

A cute boy wearing a bowtie and suspenders next to a chalk board that says 5 Big Lessons B2B Marketers Can Learn from Content EntrepreneursThis review of Joe Pulizzi’s new book, Content Inc., explores how B2B marketers can think big to take their content marketing to new heights. 

In September of 2008, the stock market crashed.

This was also the month when I left my job to start a copywriting business.

When I left my job, I had one client for whom I’d done some proposal editing work. But I had few industry contacts, no marketing plan and no savings.

Luckily, I was accepted into the Ontario Self Employment Benefits program, which helps entrepreneurs launch businesses. Through the program, I received a one-year start-up grant and in-depth training on how to run a business.

The part of the program that impacted me the most was the sales training. Many of the entrepreneurs in my class were nervous about “selling”. We associated selling with the sleazy techniques used in Glengarry Glen Ross.

However, our instructor explained that we didn’t need to be pushy salespeople. Instead, he said that we should “Stop selling. Start helping.” He even gave us magnets with this saying on them, and I still have mine on my fridge.

During this lesson, I realized that selling didn’t have to be scary. Instead, I could give potential clients information that helps them do their jobs better. I started doing this by publishing articles on my blog.

Soon after launching my copywriting business, I found the Content Marketing Institute and started blogging for them. Content marketing aligns perfectly with “Stop selling. Start helping.” It just makes sense.

To this day, I focus on creating helpful content for my clients – B2B technology marketers. This is a big reason why my business survived the recession and is still going strong.   

Since I’m a huge believer in content marketing, I was thrilled to review Joe Pulizzi’s new book, Content Inc. The book focuses on how entrepreneurs can use content to build massive audiences and create radically successful businesses. However, a lot of the book’s information can also apply to B2B marketers in established companies.  Joe states that the book is useful if your company is developing a new audience – or if you’re selling lots of products and services but aren’t happy with your growth.

Here are five things B2B marketers can learn from content entrepreneurs:

1. Set big goals.

stick man pointing to a chalk board on chalkboad
When it comes to your content, aim to create content that your readers will find irreplaceable.

According to research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, great content marketers do two things differently from others:

They document their content marketing strategies.

They review their strategies on a regular basis.

Without a content marketing strategy, you’ll randomly throw content into the world and hope that it resonates with your customers. A strategy helps you define your goals and learn more about your customers. The more you know about your customers, the more you will create content that appeals to them.

Another thing that great content marketers do is set big goals. “Your ultimate objectives – those big hairy audacious goals – should make you cringe at least a little bit,” the book states. When it comes to your content, aim to create content that your readers will find irreplaceable. 

2. Highlight your subject matter expertise.

Chalk man pointing to a chalkboard on a chalkboard saying  Highlight your subject matter expertise.
Highlighting your employees product and technical expertise in your blog posts and other content can boost your marketing results.

Your employees have a wealth of product and technical expertise that can help your customers. Highlighting their expertise in your blog posts and other content can boost your marketing results.

Content Inc. gives the example of Indium, a company that develops and manufacturers materials used primarily in the electronics assembly industry. In 2005, Indium’s employees started to share their knowledge on the company’s blog. Through its blogs, Indium now generates more leads at just 25% of its previous marketing investment.

3. Go beyond what everyone else is saying.

Chalk man pointing to a chalkboard on a chalkboard saying Go beyond what everyone else is saying
To stand out from the competition, talk about things that will get your customers excited.

Many tech products promise to “lower your costs” and “save you money”. While this might be important, it’s also what all of your competitors are saying.

To stand out from the competition, talk about things that will get your customers excited. The book states, “To become the one resource that cuts through the clutter, the people in your audience need to believe that your content can change their stars (from the movie A Knight’s Tale).”

4. Pick the right channels.

Chalk man pointing to a chalkboard on a chalkboard saying Pick the right channels.
Focus on the core channel that will give you the best opportunity to reach your target audience.

While you may distribute content on a number of channels, you should pick one core channel to focus on.  This channel should give you the best opportunity to reach your target audience.

Ideally, this channel should also be one that you can control. For example, while you can reach a wider audience by sharing content on LinkedIn, you’re at the mercy of the social network’s updates and policies.

According to the book, the safest bet for a channel is building a website or print property that you own. From there, you can use other channels, such as social media, to drive people to your content. Then, you can convert visitors into subscribers and later customers. 

5. Get subscribers.

Chalk man pointing to a chalkboard on a chalkboard saying  Get subscribers.
Subscribers will often turn into your best customers.

Your subscribers are your top content marketing metric.

Joe states, “When you go to sleep at night, you should be thinking of attracting subscribers. When you wake up in the morning, you should have subscribers etched into your brain.”

Your subscribers will often turn into your best customers. However, not all subscribers are created equal. Joe recommends focusing on building email subscribers to see the best results. The following chart shows the subscriber hierarchy, with email taking the lead and Facebook fans at the bottom.

subscribers

Content Inc. provides valuable advice for entrepreneurs – as well as B2B companies that want to think like entrepreneurs. It also offers tips on building your audience, creating a content calendar and repurposing content to reach a wider audience. 

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Read Content Inc. to learn more about how your company can adopt an entrepreneur’s mindset to cut past the content clutter and stand out from your competition.
  2. Read “5 B2B Technology Companies That Are Doing Content Marketing Right” for inspiration. 
  3. Click to share this article on LinkedIn. Sharing quality content increases your visibility and credibility with your existing contacts, creating conversations and potentially new business.