In the hierarchy of marketing, there is an unofficial ranking of ‘cool’ brands to work for. Top of the list? Luxury brands and beer (nothing surprising there). Middle of the pack might be banking – big budgets, and looks good on the CV too. And way, way down the bottom of the list you’ll probably find B2B firms.
If we’re honest B2B marketing just isn’t seen as sexy or exciting. It has a reputation of being boring, a bit man in the grey suit. But if we’re even more honest, it’s also because it’s really hard to do well. Successful B2B content marketing requires more than a ‘we’re hiring’ post on LinkedIn once a month, and a whitepaper or two to really connect with your buyer.
Getting the balance right between standing out from the crowd, while staying on brand and not going off message – but not being to serious…It’s no wonder content marketing seems so much easier for businesses trying to attract the attention of consumers.
In fact a 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark survey reported that the biggest content marketing challenge for b2b marketers was in producing engaging content, with 54% of B2B businesses reporting this as an issue.
Part of the problem may just lie in a lack of confidence in knowing what exactly to say on each channel, and spreading your wings beyond the safety of LinkedIn. It requires more thought, more patience, and a whole lot more listening. But when you do that, when you really listen to your customers and think about how to engage them? Then, B2B content marketing doesn’t need to be so boring.
So here are 6 brands who are paving the way for B2B brands wanting to show a little personality through their content, but not sure where to start.
Twitter: Numbers don’t need to be boring
Baremetrics is a Software As A Service provider that integrates with US billing company Stripe. They have Personality with a capital P on Twitter and speak the language of their young, energetic target market. Its feed showcases its founder’s insights (a kind of pass it forward for other startups) and gives a human face to the tech team behind it.
YouTube: Old MacDonald had 50,000 subscribers
This wonderful video from Klingenberg Farm shows that anyone can create engaging content if they understand their ‘why’. They have almost 50,000 YouTube subscribers – not bad for a beef and wheat farm!
YouTube + Microsite: The Dude abides (and also builds websites)
If smiling cows aren’t enough to melt your heart, perhaps you need to get a little rest. Squarespace are here to help, with a microsite devoted to Jeff Bridge’s Sleeping Tapes (which sucks you in and also teaches you how to make a Squarespace website).
SlideShare: Giving life to Powerpoint
SlideShare is an often overlooked visual content network, but it can perform beautifully for B2B based on its integration with LinkedIn, and also for the ability to share long form content with great engaging imagery, like this bright and deceptively simple example from IBM.
Pinterest: Lightbulb moments from a 100 year old company
With Pinterest boards called ‘Badass Machines’, ‘Mind=Blown’ and ‘Gifts for Geeks’, it’s no wonder GE have almost 30,000 followers and are the granddaddy of B2B brands on Pinterest. They use their boards to showcase their proposition of the power of imagination; what they are doing around the world, their history, and they even riff off memes like Hey Girl:
Instagram: Whatever floats your boat
A shipping company is leading the B2B charge on Instagram? Well, Maersk Line has 30,000 followers, so I guess people just like messing about in boats. But you do have to admit these are pretty impressive looking vessels – it’s enough to make you want to pack up and run off to sea. The genius to their success is in leveraging fan generated content, with contributors asked to tag photos on Instagram and Facebook #maerskline. It’s a great way to involve fans, and reinforce the might and breadth of their shipping line.