“Get the content right and the channels will take care of themselves” has become one of my favourite phrases. In fact perhaps I roll it out a little too frequently. After all, there are no shortage of businesses that have dominated their markets through the immaculate use of one very particular channel tactic. Consumer markets are full of early adopter brands that have pounced on a new channel and ridden that wave all the way to the bank.
But what about B2B? Are there certain channels that B2B brands should master if they want to do their content justice?
- The search engines – If you want to see the power of SEO in the B2B space, look no further than Hubspot. It’s a superb contradiction to my statement about getting the content right; packed to the brim with hyper generic “how to’s” and listicles, Hubspot is an extraordinary display of quantity over quality. Not that the quality is bad – you’d be hard pushed to find a typo or other inaccuracy – but just that quality isn’t the point. The point is volume. No matter how much sales and marketing insight is added to the ocean of existing content, Hubspot want to make sure they are the the largest contributor of all. Their growth model is that simple. And it works.
- Email – For nearly a quarter of a century(!) email has been the quiet hero of digital, particularly for B2B. There are several reasons for this. First of all, it’s an asset you actually own. But perhaps more importantly, when successful, it represents a really intimate relationship with the recipient, and the impact on whatever the goal happens to be (engagement, on boarding, repeat purchases, etc) is typically higher than any other channel. And if you think a business email can’t be made interesting, check out The Hustle, although they have recently been bought by Hubspot, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can refrain from allowing their “more is more” philosophy to pollute the hitherto beautifully curated newsletter.
- Offline – If you want to cut through the noise, it pays to target the fringes, and in today’s world the fringes are comprised largely of traditional media. Research has shown that if you want your ads to be seen you’re far better off sticking them in a printed magazine than you are on Facebook. Sure, it may cost more and you won’t be afforded the same level of targeting, but that inefficiency carries a certain meaning; it tells the reader that you take your brand seriously enough to invest in it even when you’re not sure who’s looking. It’s also far more impactful than you might imagine; passengers on the London underground, for example, have an 8 minute dwell time, during which they are not only prepared but actually rather happy to be presented with the kind of long form messaging a digital ad could only dream of.
With the exception of SEO, however, you will still notice a certain recurring theme – the channel is only as good as the messaging. So for god’s sake, get that content right.