Lately it seems like content marketing is all people are talking about. B2B marketers however, don’t always see themselves as getting a slice of that pie.
It’s true that B2B content marketing has unique challenges: it can be hard to get a conversation started (let alone shared) by business customers or to create viral appeal (usually pathos-driven human interest angles).
But just because you're B2B doesn't mean you can't be one of the cool kids.
As online retailers of signs, mats, labels, and tags, we at SmartSign often grapple with finding engaging content themes.
Take, for example, MyAssetTag, one of our subsidiary brands. The people who think and talk about asset tags are mostly office managers, and that’s just during yearly inventory. Making asset tags an appealing topic, like many B2B products, is a tall order.
It’s like the high school movie cliché: how do you transform that awkward freshman (asset tags) into homecoming royalty (popular and productive content)? As we know from the big screen, where there’s a will and extraordinarily well-attended a cappella competitions, there’s a way.
I’ll go ahead and tell you the end before I tell you the middle of the story: The new kid finds her place in the world and even gets to give a touching commencement speech at graduation.
In other words, MyAssetTag’s content strategy works; we’re able to create a useful service that creates organic publicity, increased brand recognition, and trust. It’s a win-win; it helps us and our community.
And the great news: it’s replicable. So whether you sell construction equipment, insurance, or chemical placards, it’s simply a matter of creatively assessing your resources. Just follow the character arc of your favorite American high school drama.
Find your clique
Not every content market will work for you. Find an arena that relates to your product but is still exciting and appealing to your team. Keep in mind: it’s OK to think bigger than your customer base.
Although overlap is ideal, those who consume your information may not be the same as your customers and vice versa. It’s important to remember that the end goal of your content marketing efforts is to engage conversation.
Asset tags are used on computers, power drills, and office supplies -- hardly the stuff of dynamic conversation. So we looked through our customer base to see if we could find any "interesting" (consumer-friendly) clients and came across bike and ski rentals.
SmartSign is based in New York City, where there are hundreds of thousands of avid bikers and cycling activists. Since we’ve got a few biking enthusiasts on our marketing team, cycling was a natural content fit.
Make a statement
You’ve got to bring something to the table to be accepted into the fold. Asset tags are already used to identify bikes, but no one was offering that service for free.
With this in mind, we arrived at the concept of BikeGuard, a free bike registry. The scheme was this: users would register their bike on our site, receive free asset tags in the mail, and stick those uniquely coded QR tags on their bikes. Lost or stolen bikes could be identified with a scanner or phone.
Because BikeGuard is one-of-a-kind and useful, our outreach efforts yielded online referrals from not only reputable biking blogs, but highly trusted universities, city councils, and police departments.
BikeGuard is now the source for most of our top backlinks and is one of our top ranking pages for MyAssetTag.com.
It also became a sustainable platform for future content and outreach efforts. We looked for other opportunities to create engaging content to contribute to the cycling community. Our goal was to continue to generate more traffic and referrals to our website.
Last August we released a state-by-state interactive bike commuting infographic. The infographic showed the dearth of women cyclists and how much states budgeted for biking infrastructure. Although the information was not unique in the cycling world, the visualization was.
Below, you can see the jump in our domain’s MozTrust the two months following the release of the infographic. You can also see that the jump in trust sustained itself.
Get a popular kid to vouch for you
Ascending the social ranks of high school is much easier when you have friends in high places. In marketing terms, you’ll want to partner with an influencer, particularly when you’re entering a new niche.
Time and time again we see our campaigns go socially viral thanks to the advocacy of a few key influencers. BikeGuard has partnered with Transportation Alternatives, an influential New York City transportation advocacy group, and BMX Olympian Connor Fields.
We shot “Why I ride” with Connor Fields. The BMX community responded by watching, sharing, and posting the video on their sites.
Our partnership with TransAlt has benefited our company as a whole and flowed into other brands. A quick tweet from the founder, Paul Steely-White, about one of our parking campaigns, gave us the best blog traffic we’ve ever had, with a margin of hundreds of views.
Become a leader
Hey, people know you. You’re kind of a big deal. People have your back. Now’s the time for your rousing prom/graduation speech.
After building our reputation in our new niche through unique content and influencers, MyAssetTag ranks #1 for “bike commuting statistics” and “free bike registry.” After a year, BikeGuard is well-established, generating new users, links, content campaigns, and even customers. MyAssetTag.com sells more asset tags than ever, and we get to talk about biking in the conference room.
Do you have a tricky B2B product? How do you build content around it? Share, comment, tweet!