Gini Dietrich

Content Development for B2B Companies

By: Gini Dietrich | July 7, 2011 | 
98

It’s Facebook question of the week time (clap, clap, clap)! You guys listened so well last week.

Lots of great questions, which has the next few weeks full.

But don’t let that stop you from asking a question. It’s OK. Head over there now. We’ll wait. Except for you, Danny Brown. You’re banned.

Did you do it? No fibbing now. I can tell whether or not you’ve left a question. It’s funny how that wall works. It tells me all!

OK. Thank you!

Are you ready for this week’s Facebook question? It’s a good one!

Tom DelMonte, senior director of services marketing at SAP, asks,

In the B2B space where purchases are done by committee and are in the millions of dollars/euros, what types of ‘content’ do you find works best when trying to engage socially? Industry trends? Thought Leadership? I find “plugging our stuff” is not genuine.

This is a really good conversation to have. Sean McGinnis responded to Tom on the Facebook wall, after he asked the question, and a short discussion was had. But we didn’t really answer his question there because I wanted to save it for the video.

But content for B2B companies can no longer be ignored. I believe we’ll all become media companies, at some point, and the faster you learn what types of content are valuable to your audiences, the better.

I answer his question in the video below (if you can’t view the video in your Reader, click here and it will magically appear), based on our own experience with our financial services and manufacturing clients. You really don’t get more B2B than that and we’ve had some pretty big success in using content for inbound marketing and generating qualified leads.

What else would you tell Tom? Do you agree or disagree with me? Are there other ideas you’ve found that work well?

Have at it!

You have one more week to sign up for Blog Style Guidelines: Mastering the Lists. Hurry! You don’t want to hurt Nate Riggs’s feelings, do you?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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98 Comments on "Content Development for B2B Companies"

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T60Productions
5 years 16 days ago
Hi Gini… you’ve written before about all businesses now being media companies, and I think you’re dead-on. When businesses produce a video for the web, they need to start thinking that way. From a video perspective, that involves asking a simple question… why would someone want to watch this? Produce videos that are audience-focused and will appeal to them. One way to do this and subtly plug your own company is to feature your customers. Show what they do, how they do it, and why its relevant to the industry. Producing a video like that is great for solidifying relationships… Read more »
T60Productions
5 years 16 days ago
Hi Gini… sorry I haven’t commented in a while… baby duties. 🙂 Anyway, you’ve written before about all businesses now being media companies, and I think you’re dead-on. From a video perspective, that involves asking a simple question… why would someone want to watch this? Produce videos that are audience-focused and will appeal to them… be storytellers. One way to do this and subtly plug your own company is to feature your customers. Show what they do, how they do it, and why its relevant to the industry. Producing a video like that is great for solidifying relationships with current… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 16 days ago

@T60Productions What do you think about our idea of showing cool things, on video, that the customer normally wouldn’t get to see?

RobertDempsey
5 years 16 days ago

One of the things I’ve found that works really well is spotlighting clients that are experiencing success with the my clients products/services. As many people mention, talking about yourself and how wonderful you are is a no-go, and people seriously distrust that for very good reasons. Hearing it from someone else, especially from someone in the same industry, can not only lend huge credibility, it can also raise a little competitive spirit as well.

RobertDempsey
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrich @T60Productions Behind the scenes stuff like that is a great idea. It “peels back the curtain” and can help position products very effectively. It’s showing the people sides of the business and the products they almost never see.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 16 days ago

@RobertDempsey So having your customers do extended testimonials for you?

Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago
The main problem is that B2B peeps think there is nothing interesting about what they do. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Your customers often find what you do amazingly interesting and fun – ASK THEM! The one thing I find missing from from the content creation process is empathy – put yourselves into your customers shoes and ask yourself – what would they like to know? Then give it to them! And do it in creative ways if possible, but even that’s not necessary a lot of times. I agree with Robert – another great idea is to… Read more »
BobReed
BobReed
5 years 16 days ago
Gini, you mentioned your financial services client that isn’t blogging (yet) because it was concerned about comments. I had a similar situation for our pharma development client (talk about nervous!). But I found a solution. For one of it’s smaller, yet important new service lines, the company asked us to build traffic. But developing a regular blog on WP or Tumblr was out — too much too soon, in their eyes. The only thing available was their existing corporate website. So, I said, create a “non blog” blog”. I sketched out changes to alter its lonely outpost on this huge… Read more »
RobertDempsey
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrich pretty much, with a heavy focus on the benefits their business has gotten from it. Video is fantastic for this and has a much greater impact.

RobertDempsey
5 years 16 days ago

@Sean McGinnis the curse of knowledge strikes again Sean! I agree that B2B folks have a lot of cool stuff they can do and say. It’s a matter of perspective.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 16 days ago

@RobertDempsey I agree! I think video is a great use for this!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 16 days ago

@RobertDempsey @Sean McGinnis That’s what we found with our oxidizer client. I said, “You can walk through them?!” They looked at me like I was nuts. But people love that kind of stuff. They just can’t see the forest from the trees.

Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago

@RobertDempsey It’s REALLY hard to remember that our customers don’t known everything we already know. We take SO MUCH for granted.

If we could just look at what we do with child-like wonderment, a world of content ideas would literally open before us.

I’m convinced of it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 16 days ago

@BobReed We’ve actually done that, as well. But it’s a Fortune 10 company so we have to keep it behind a registration wall, which doesn’t really help with Google. But their customers love it and, well, that’s all that really matters.

RobertDempsey
5 years 16 days ago

@Sean McGinnis one way to remember that is that they’re coming to us. If they knew what we know they wouldn’t need our help 😛

Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrich @RobertDempsey It reminds me of the first time I took a tour of our printing facilities at Thomson Reuters. It’s AMAZING! Rolls of paper as big as a car. So many things printed and shipped that UPS built a shipping facility ACROSS THE STREET for easy shipping. Printing presses that change rolls of paper ON THE FLY so production is maintained. It’s literally amazing.

RobertDempsey
5 years 16 days ago

@Sean McGinnis @ginidietrich I imagine they have robots. I saw robots in action at a paper mill in Austria. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Yes, I’m a geek.

BobReed
BobReed
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrich Happy clients and happy customers are all that matter.

BobReed
BobReed
5 years 16 days ago

@Sean McGinnis @RobertDempsey I have to remind myself of that. I think that some of my recommendations will be greeted by “Yeah, duh.” But most of the time it’s “Really? That’s brilliant!” Go figure.

RobertDempsey
5 years 16 days ago

@BobReed @Sean McGinnis it’s times like that I get a warm and fuzzy inside. Being able to help clients like that is awesome.

trackback

[…] props today for public relations expert and blogging maven Gini Dietrich. She wrote about how all businesses these days have become media companies… and she’s […]

glenn_ferrell
glenn_ferrell
5 years 16 days ago
Gini – you’re helping me solidify some ideas for a small business newsletter – thx 🙂 Anyway — on Tom’s “thought leadership” reference — Altho I haven’t dealt with large B2Bs in about 10 years, in my past life we (a dedicated technology/R&D group) would be called in by sales to do face-to-face presentations on emerging technologies (new web concepts, personalization systems, early cell-phone-and-barcode business ideas, circuits on paper, etc.). This would include forecasts of how we thought these might impact a customer’s business and demonstrations of prototypes & experiments that we were exploring, etc. Sales management told us, many… Read more »
DannyBrown
5 years 16 days ago

Great advice, miss – knew you had it in you. 😉

We’ve been helping clients have their employees tell their stories. Where they come from; what their goals are; how they see themselves growing with the client; and what they think are future trends in their industry.

It helps create both a “family feel” while exploring what the client does, in a non-spammy way. Seems to be working so far. 🙂

Marcus_Sheridan
5 years 16 days ago
When it comes to content marketing, I really don’t feel there is a difference in B2B and B2C. The reason I say this is because people are people. Questions are questions. And every product and service under the sun involves questions from one’s base (whether that base be a biz or consumer, again, same to me) I always find that our customers tell us what content we should be producing. If we’re truly listening, there is a never-ending flow of questions come from them, and the greatest businesses in the SM/content marketing fields are the ones smart enough to give… Read more »
T60Productions
5 years 16 days ago

Agreed… behind the scenes stuff is a great way engage with an audience. Especially if you can provide them with a… cool, I didn’t know that… moment!

We did a long video once for a company that was designed to be a behind the scenes factory tour. Fun stuff!

–Tony Gnau

RobertDempsey
5 years 16 days ago

@Marcus_Sheridan I agree with you on that Marcus. We’re always working with people, though they may tend to respond to a message put a different way. Fundamentally though, the psychology is the same, even though many won’t say so.

jackielamp
jackielamp
5 years 16 days ago

I like everyone’s ideas and I can see the value in them, but my question is: How do you get people to actually watch the video of clients in action? Or read the weekly insights? I could see why customers would have an interest, but what about those who aren’t customers?

I guess I’m wondering how you expand past your customer base to gain interest from those who don’t already have an affiliation with your company…

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Coxymoney
Coxymoney
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrich I have a friend that has a bad #custserv issue from AirTran, Southwest … what is your suggestion for best course of action?

mediachick76
mediachick76
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrich Not sure if this is the same, but I find this content so good it spills over from b2b into b2c… (cont) http://deck.ly/~dBIom

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 16 days ago

@glenn_ferrell Wow Glenn! THIS should be your newsletter. Some really, really, really good ideas in here. One of the things we do for Arment Dietrich is stay ahead of the trends so our clients don’t have to do it. But we’ve also found, in some cases, we’re too far ahead. For one client, it took them three years after we introduced some new tools to approve their use. Three. Years.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 16 days ago

@DannyBrown I especially like what you guys are doing with the Shepherd Group. It’ll be interesting to see their results after a year.

fitzternet
5 years 16 days ago
@jackielamp Great question(s). I’d start by treating the video as a story and not as an advertisement. Don’t tell people why they should buy, tell them why your client sells. I go into this in some more detail in a guest post later today, but think of it like a movie – the motivations of the protagonist are more than enough to get people rooting for him or her. The protagonist just does his/her thing and you become interested because it’s real. It’s genuine. Focusing on the motivations driving the founder/owner increases interest among their fans/customers. That interest will draw… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 16 days ago

@RobertDempsey @Marcus_Sheridan I agree, but many, many, many business leaders don’t agree. And aren’t afraid to tell you so. They all think they’re unique and their business is unique and people buy differently as consumers. Which is total baloney and also the reason I have a job.

rachaelseda
rachaelseda
5 years 16 days ago

RT @ginidietrich: The Facebook question of the week comes from @TMDel about B2B content http://t.co/UC3r1hO

johnfalchetto
5 years 16 days ago

@Marcus_Sheridan Yes the person who buys in the end well he’s the customer. Sure they might be committees and boards to make a purchase decision, but in the end it’s a person who wants to buy the service or product.

Listening to our customers? Really? You can’t be serious 😉

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 16 days ago

@jackielamp Use email marketing, social networks, and now G+ to find those prospects and use the content to attract them. This isn’t unlike anything you do now…you’re just now working with marketing to find the right people to talk with.

johnfalchetto
5 years 16 days ago
Ah the B2B and B2C debate. I always saw them as one and the same. Call me slow but I don’t get the ‘we only sell to corporations not people’ approach. Really, so there is nobody on the other side signing off on bids, quotes, invoices and purchase orders? Robots? Seriously, there is always a decision maker and that person is a consumer. Perhaps not in the retail sense but he/she makes the decision to buy or not. Oh and yes speak to your clients, not your colleagues, which i think many who work in the ‘B2B’ industry seem to… Read more »
glenn_ferrell
glenn_ferrell
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrichlol ! Thanx — I’m always making promises to myself that my bandwidth can’t keep 🙂 But to your last point — being 3 years ahead is not really a problem. It doesn’t matter if your customer can’t immediately implement these ideas. It expands her thinking; moves her horizons out; demonstrates that Arment Dietrich is relationship she needs. Your posts are already doing this. Who do you think people are reading to see if they should go on Google+ ?

TheJackB
5 years 16 days ago

I think that you can plug your stuff if you do so by providing customer experiences with your products and services and maybe a comment about industry trends. It is a healthy mix of sales and marketing.

P.S. Gini, you are supposed to film your books for people like me who are exceptionally interested in what stands upon those shelves behind you.

Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrich @jackielamp Its all various forms of inbound marketing. ID the buying triggers of your customers. Build great content that informs, educates and maybe entertains around those triggers. Build it in ways the encourages or rewards sharing.

Consider deputizing your best customers and finding ways to turn them into evangelists (or tap into pre-existing evangelist communities).

RobertDempsey
5 years 16 days ago
@jackielamp I agree with @fitzternet and @ginidietrich . I’d also add a few more methods: 1. This type of content would (should) reside on the company blog on a webpage optimized for a keyword or phrase that is relevant to the content, which should also be a phrase that the customer would use. 2. You could also put the video on YouTube and optimize it for search so that Google will rank it, again with phrases that potential customers would use. 3. As Gini mentioned, you can use it in email marketing, specifically a lead nurturing campaign, or just as… Read more »
Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago

@johnfalchetto @Marcus_Sheridan The process is the same. The difference is in the amounts, and those execs feel there needs to be something special about the process because of those amounts. To the degree those decisions are different from an impulse buy of a pack of gum a a check-out line, I can agree.

But there’s little difference between my decision to hire Marcus to do what he does, or my decision to make a new multi-million dollar investment in a business.

RobertDempsey
5 years 16 days ago

@ginidietrich @Marcus_Sheridan which helps to prove the point Gini. We all like to think we’re unique, and to an extent it’s true. However one thing makes us all similar – we’re all human. While the ways we consume information may be different as well as the rate of our consumption, human psychology stays pretty much the same. Whether we like to admit it or not…

RobertDempsey
5 years 16 days ago

@Sean McGinnis @johnfalchetto @Marcus_Sheridan sounds like positioning Sean. I’d add that the sales cycles in B2B also tend to be longer as there are typically more layers involved for decisions to pass through.

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 16 days ago

When is the Google + question of the week happening? And will it be on Tuesdays?

HowieSPM
HowieSPM
5 years 16 days ago
Unlike Advertising which seems to have trade shows like every week, in B2B Manufacturing there is usually 1 a year. And it is normally staffed by Sales people and walked by Engineers and sometimes buyers.And this really leaves your sales team or engineers being the ones discussing B2B commerce and after something is chosen by the engineers the purchasing group gets involved only then and basically to beat you up on price and hammer out the terms. But here is where content and inbound marketing can work wonders. What if the procurement group looked at you as more than just… Read more »
Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago

@RobertDempsey @johnfalchetto @Marcus_Sheridan Very true, but the triggers are the same. The sales process is definitely more complex, but the building blocks are the same. Like the difference between a house and a skyscraper. 🙂

glenn_ferrell
glenn_ferrell
5 years 16 days ago

@HowieSPM I like your connection between “proof of quality and process” and procurement folks. I think you have something here. Procurement many times does not understand the needs and pain points of their external customers but they sure understand (and many times have performance metrics) related to internal customers.

The challenge for you is to connect – through keyphrase or whatever — those needs and pain points to your products. A post on how to create those connections would be something I’d like to read !

johnfalchetto
5 years 16 days ago

@Sean McGinnis Hiring @Marcus_Sheridan is a multi-million dollar investment in a business.

Sean McGinnis
5 years 16 days ago

@johnfalchetto @Marcus_Sheridan Yeah, right? He ain’t no cheap date! LOL!

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