There’s a problem with B2B content creation. Most companies believe that the best approach to content creation is to treat it like long-form advertising – to assemble a large collection of white papers, blog posts, thought leadership articles, infographics, and lists all related to an industry topic. The best content creators, however, think about people’s needs first and how to solve their real-life problems.

B2B content marketing should be a vehicle for understanding your audience’s pain points long before compiling keywords or putting together an editorial calendar. Content marketing cannot work in a vacuum, it’s best when applied strategically to a people-first marketing plan. That is, you have to put people at the foundation of everything you do—how your products or services can transform their companies and lives. In 2017, Gardner conducted cross-industry research with more than 3,000 B2B customers and found that one of the key takeaways is that customers aren’t that predictable. They rationalize and, shockingly, they’re people. Emotion will eventually get the best of them. Buyers won’t proceed unless there is sufficient emotional connection to overcome whatever pain or hurdle lies in their way.

How Can B2B Content Marketers Leverage Storytelling?

When you connect with your audience/potential customers on an emotional level, things start to happen. On average, according to hbr.org, emotionally connected customers are 52% more valuable than customers who are only highly satisfied. How do you stay memorable so that your customers are better, loyal, and invested wholeheartedly in everything you do? You can go the shock and awe route and share your muscle-toned body like we do.

Or you can build connections with your brand through storytelling. That works too.

Think about that for a minute. How many recognizable brands can you think of where the primary focus is the brand story – where’s it’s made, how it’s sourced, and in what ways it’s changing? Embracing your brand’s story is about understanding and following through on the expectation the omnichannel customer and using this as a differentiator in your marketing strategy.

Discussions about B2B marketing often focus on how to reproduce or simplify complex topics, or differentiate promotional offers. We think of B2B in terms of marketing to a large business entity or a buyer that cares less because it’s not their personal finances at stake. But this would be a mistake. Much is still at stake, for example, there’s the transfer of CRM management and CRM support services, which involves a great deal of trust and risk. Just like B2C storytelling, business buyers won’t proceed unless there is sufficient emotional connection to overcome key risks.

Does your B2B content build a significant emotional connection that is capable of overcoming these concerns? B2B content marketers can leverage storytelling by understanding B2B buyers and influencers. If you’re not solving a real problem for people, there’s no point in creating content. Once you do this, only then can you leverage the data, execute great campaigns, relentlessly measure their engagement over time, and then iterate and fine-tune campaign performance.

We use a people-first marketing approach that begins by establishing a benchmark so you can understand the context of the account relationship and decide how to interact with any new person that comes into your CRM. This makes it easier to develop content that’s hyper-customized — all managed, monitored and measured with your CRM.

How People-First Marketing Facilitates B2B Content Creation

Our people-first marketing program is our own version of an account-based marketing strategy that requires more account-level personalization. Account-based marketing approaches historically cost more to implement because of the number of different tools and technologies required. However, new advances in marketing technology are changing, and b2b marketers can employ ABM for much less than previously possible, as long as they have the knowledge to use these b2b marketing tools.

In an account based strategy, you’re to match the right account with the right seller at the right time. It’s an obvious, but often overlooked fact…you can’t sell to someone unless you know who they are. You want to direct your marketing efforts to the accounts that actually matter instead of regurgitating your message as if everyone interacting with your brand is the same. Account-based marketing depends on the complete alignment between the marketing and sales organizations. Educate your sales and executive teams, get buy-in and the right people in place, and then build out the process.

From there, it becomes much easier to understand the kinds of stories—and emotions—you focus on in B2B content creation

B2B Storytelling Appeals to Brand Values and Benefits

What do you reveal to businesses through your content that is actually helpful and targeted? Recent Gartner research shows that focusing on a b2b brands meaning is twice as effective as business brand values when driving outcomes. Many B2B stories focus on messaging that’s around higher performance and better results for the company. Instead, build personal stories that focus on how a solution will benefit an individual in their life. Your story shouldn’t come from cycling through your technical processes and product facts. It’s about connecting with people on an emotional and psychological level.

How to Build a People-First Marketing Strategy

As an agency, our sweet-spot is identifying real people (B2B buyers and influencers). We leverage the data behind them, execute great campaigns, relentlessly measure their engagement over time, then iterate and fine-tune campaign performance. We love high-tempo, high-touch account-based marketing campaigns that leverage hyper-customization, killer offers, PR, direct mail, social media, community and direct prospect contact by sales – all managed, monitored and measured with your CRM and marketing automation systems.

How much does it cost to outsource content marketing?

How much does content marketing cost? Well…the short answer is…it depends. A small to mid-sized company that outsources content marketing, a good ballpark is anywhere from $4000 to $30,000+/month.