Lee Odden

Why It’s Time for More Participation in B2B Content Marketing

participation b2b marketing

B2B brands are answering the call to become publishers with a significant increase in content hubs exemplified by pioneers like American Express OPEN and Adobe’s CMO.com and others including:

  • Intel IQ
  • Think with Google
  • Dell’s Power More
  • GE’s World in Motion
  • SAP’s Digitalist Magazine

Content Hubs

While those are all great examples, there’s an important question: Can your business really afford to hire the kind of editorial team to create this quantity of quality content at the cadence of a business publication?

Many practical marketers will say no.

The trend towards brand publishing in combination with self directed buyers guiding their way through the sales process with content creates an interesting conflict between the need for an up level on quality content production with a corresponding increase in content creation resources.

Even if you do have budget to start your own scrappy brand newsroom, industry studies show you’re probably still going to be challenged to create a variety of engaging content on a consistent basis. On top of that you have to find the talent to build out your content team, which is another challenge cited by the CMI/MarketingProfs B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report.

This challenge created by forces pushing brands to create substantially more content without the funds and a lack of resources to make it happen begs an important question:

How can companies scale content quality & quantity without scaling resources?

I think there are several answers to that depending on your situation, but one avenue worth pursuing is the notion of adding more participation to B2B content marketing.

What is participation marketing?  It’s not just another name for UGC or crowdsourcing, which are similar ideas, but more of a focused and collaborative effort between brands and their communities to create mutually beneficial content.

Participation Marketing is the democratization of content creation and promotion by co-creating content with subject matter experts, influencers and your community.

When I talk to B2B marketers about content marketing programs, I usually focus on a mix of evergreen, curated, co-created and repurposed content. The notion of participation in content marketing emphasizes a mix of these content types, but focuses most on the notion of content co-creation – the most logical way for people to participate in content development.

Content co-creation is a powerful approach to increasing a business marketers’ ability to create a quantity of quality content. With that ability to scale through collaboration, numerous advantages occur:

  • Quality: Taps Expertise
  • Quantity: Create more quality
  • Engagement: Connects w/ SMEs & Influencers
  • Reach: Participation Inspires Action
  • Scale: Distributes Content Creation

To stimulate some ideas on how B2B companies are co-creating content, here are some examples:

Intuit Quickbooks Small Business Big Game

Intuit QuickBooks Small Business, Big Game: For the second year in a row, Intuit is running a program with it’s QuickBooks product called “Small Business, Big Game” where small businesses can create a profile and attract votes in the hopes of winning a Super Bowl commercial.

The co-creation element comes in to play with ongoing tasks for each entrant, many of which result in the creation of useful content for other small businesses. Attracting votes for their content, small businesses gain themselves exposure and Intuit scales relevant, useful content for its target audience.

Content Marketing Wonderland

Event Content Co-Creation with Influencers: Another great example of B2B content co-creation is the influencer content programs TopRank Marketing creates around events.

By inviting speakers at conferences to contribute practical tips as a preview to their presentations, they are helping to co-create a useful, collective resource for the overall marketing industry, exposure for themselves and for the conference. The core contributions are organized by theme and are repurposed in numerous ways from ebooks to blog posts to infographics to social content.

Increasing content marketing performance while lowering costs is pretty compelling and that’s why, at TopRank Marketing, we’ve been developing our own processes around the practice of co-creation of content.

So how do you implement more participation and content co-creation in your content marketing programs?

Outside of understanding the information discovery and consumption preferences and action motivators of your target audience of business buyers, it’s a modular approach to content that can really help co-created content scale.

I’ll be discussing how to use this potent combination of content co-creation and modular content planning in detail at two upcoming events:

Sept 22nd, BMA Minnesota Content Marketing Workshop – Minneapolis
1:00-4:30pm followed by a BMA Mixer social hour 4:30-6:30pm
Along with Andrea Fishman, Partner in Advisory Practice at PwC and Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer at Content Marketing Institute I’ll be presenting a B2B view of how to leverage more participation in content marketing.

Here’s the official description:

Participation Marketing: How to Co-Create B2B Content with Influencers
One of the most popular trends in B2B marketing is content marketing. But B2B companies are challenged to create a variety of engaging content on a consistent basis. This presentation will provide a framework for B2B marketers to scale quality content creation by partnering with internal and external influencers.

  1. How to identify, qualify and recruit influencers
  2. A modular approach to co-created content
  3. How to optimize, socialize and repurpose co-created content

If you’re on the East Coast, then I hope you’ll find your way to the MarketingProfs B2B Forum:

Oct 21-23, MarketingProfs B2B Forum – Boston
If You Want B2B Content to be Great, Ask Your Community to Participate
Let’s face it, creating a variety of engaging content on a consistent basis is hard. Brands imitating publishers are frustrated and looking for a new ways to scale quality content that gets results. The good news is that most companies have a tremendously valuable collection of resources right in front of them: customers, employees and community. B2B brands that can connect with these groups on relevant areas of interest can partner to co-create content for mutual benefit. The result? Scalable, quality content with an investment from the very community it’s intended to reach. Everybody wins!

Join TopRank Online Marketing CEO, Lee Odden, on a journey from content mediocrity to content marketing democracy aka “participation marketing”. He’ll share his first-hand experience at developing co-created content programs for B2B companies big and small to attract more relevant audiences, actively engage communities and inspire more prospects to become buyers.

At the end of this session you will be able to:
1. Identify at least 3 co-creation opportunities to start now
2. Learn how to recruit, engage and inspire content co-creators
3. Start leveraging co-created content for SEO and social media marketing

Whether you’re in Minneapolis this week or Boston later in October, I hope to see you at one of these upcoming events.

In the meantime, we’re creating a new guide to Participation Marketing, so post your most pressing questions in the comments and we may answer them (with credit to your question) in the guide.

Top image: Shutterstock

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About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.