Your content is only as good as your B2B content marketing strategy. Evidence supports this theory in the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report. According to the report, 91 percent of respondents use content marketing.
However, similar to previous years’ reports, it’s the organizations with documented content marketing strategies who report higher levels of content marketing success. Yet, only 37 percent of respondents have a documented strategy. A top reason is that many content marketing teams are small and they don’t have the bandwidth to create a content strategy.
As a small company, we understand this struggle. However, we also believe that small teams at B2B companies can be empowered to build a robust content marketing strategy – or improve the one they have – by defining a new industry framework or category.
In our experience, it’s also the most effective path to dominating industry thought leadership.
B2B Content Marketing: It starts with a narrative
Category leaders all have narratives that provide value to the industry. A strategic narrative aims a company higher than its products and services, and delivers a message that drives the industry toward advancement, breaks down misperceptions and builds new, accurate perceptions.
The goal of a strategic narrative is not only to give you something to say but to say something that serves a purpose much more significant than your organization. It doesn’t force you to lose sight of the unique value that your products and services offer the market. Instead, it opens up the opportunity to position your organization as an industry visionary by taking ownership of a much-needed category.
How does this apply to content marketing?
Our Chief Narrative Officer, Guy Murrel said it well in a recent Forbes article about the types of content that help grow companies’ online presence:
“Sharing industry vision and creating a new approach or framework provides a higher level of content for industry leadership. Content surrounding industry mega-trends, how those trends impact the industry and new ways of operating or thinking supplements how-to blogs and company-focused content. An industry paper builds a solid foundation for campaigns across all thought leadership channels. – Guy Murrel, Catapult PR-IR”
A strategic narrative, fed directly into the organizations content marketing strategy, helps marketing teams build awareness and stand out from the competition while delivering a message of value to the audience. Customers and potential customers gain confidence in the organization knowing it is serving the industry.
Industry influencers soak up and share this content because it’s truly unique and it addresses the industry’s trends and challenges. Truthfully, they’re often relieved to hear something that’s not another product announcement.
A strategic narrative is a one-way ticket to stronger content and a strategy that drives results. At its best, it is something the ENTIRE organization can focus on and rally behind. It also helps garner executive support and dedicated attention to content marketing.
Category Leadership in a Nutshell
There is a specific approach that marks the journey towards a strategic narrative that enables category ownership, and we created it. We call it Strategic Narrative Marketing. To start, it requires support from top leadership. Read this blog on how to garner buy-in from the rest of the organization if you want some tips to get started.
To build the category, start by understanding how Strategic Narrative Marketing works. Here are the keys to the approach – simplified for this blog:
- Do a discovery session: Gather critical stakeholders at your organization and take a deep dive into your industry. What are the significant trends, the misperceptions, the perceptions? What does the industry need to move forward – what is your vision for the industry in the future. Remember to keep your eyes on the industry and off your company. You want to keep it high-level. Take your time digging in – this isn’t something that should be cobbled together in a couple of hours.
- Identify the narrative and use that to build your category: As you pour through the notes from your discovery session, you’ll start to find some common themes, and you might even begin to recognize the category that your organization can own. The best way to flesh this out is an industry paper. Talk about the state of the industry, define the category and its tenets and describe how the category contributes to the industry. This step is where you create your content strategy and plan how you’ll distribute content that supports the new category.
- Launch and evangelize your category: Decide when you’re going to launch your category externally. Once you introduce it to the industry, you have to continually evangelize it for a chance of claiming and owning it. Your content strategy will play a big role in whether it succeeds.
If you’re genuinely interested in building a B2B content marketing strategy that is supported by a category or industry framework, try this book to learn more. As a content marketer, you’ll have the ability to leverage something that company leaders care about – and it will help you create a powerful and unique content marketing strategy.