How to Inspire Your B2B Audience with Killer Content Marketing

B2B content marketers: It’s time to get over our inferiority complex.

Yes, the B2C folks are over there marketing cool stuff like basketball shoes and energy drinks, while we’re stuck with cloud software solutions and medical imaging machinery.

Yes, we’re marketing to business professionals on a buying committee that has to commit to million-dollar deals. Which would buy a lot of basketball shoes and energy drinks.

But that does not mean B2C has more fun. It doesn’t mean B2B is boring. It doesn’t mean we have to play it safe.

Can B2B content be as compelling, as emotional, as vibrant—let’s face it—as cool as B2C?

As we say in Minnesota, yabetcha.

New eBook: 30 Essential Ingredients to Stock Your Content Marketing Kitchen

My mother was the chief cook in our household. It was a thankless job. Her customers were three kids with radically different ideas about what was edible and what was, like, totally grody.

When we asked what was for dinner—one of her least favorite questions—she would frequently answer, “Well, we could make peanut butter sandwiches, if we had any bread. Or any peanut butter.”

In other words, regardless of what your diners are craving, you can only make what you have the ingredients to make.

Mom’s little proverb holds true for content marketing, too. We have finnicky readers to please, people who won’t settle for filet mignon when they really want a classic PB&J. They’re increasingly demanding a more personalized menu: Research shows that over 200 million people use ad blockers to cut out content that isn’t to their taste. To make a crowd-pleasing recipe, you have to stock the right ingredients.

Feeling Stuck? 5 Tips to Restart your Content-Creating Brain

Blank space: Great when it’s a song by Taylor Swift, not so great in content marketing.

No, wait. I already used that analogy. Now I need a clever new intro to this post about overcoming writer’s block and resetting your content brain. I’m staring at a white screen, trying to put words together, intimidated by all that blank space.

Hey, that’s like the Taylor Swift song… no, wait.

If you’re a content creator, the previous two paragraphs likely sound familiar. There are few things more intimidating to a writer than an empty page. Sometimes, despite your best efforts—the caffeine, the snacks, the just-right Spotify playlist—your content-creating brain just won’t turn over.

It’s almost like humans weren’t meant to sit at a desk in front of 1-3 huge monitors all day long, isn’t it?

A Day in the Life of a Content Marketing Manager at TopRank Marketing

These days, workplace culture is becoming a defining characteristic for most companies—as well as a marketing tool to retain and attract top talent. As a result, I’m often asked by industry peers and hopeful job seekers what it’s really like to work at TopRank Marketing.

The honest truth? It’s hard work. But, that’s the nature of the marketing agency beast. But at TopRank Marketing it’s also in our nature to nurture—and that’s evident in the culture we’ve built; a culture of support, understanding and teamwork to help ensure every individual and every client thrives.

Of course, things aren’t always perfect. But as author, researcher and speaker Brené Brown once said: “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”

Content Planning for the Win: 10 Expert Tips to Keep Your Audience Engaged Again & Again

Blank space: Great when it’s a Taylor Swift song (or a nifty 20’s-style cover of same), not awesome when it’s on your editorial calendar. You want to publish with a steady cadence to keep your audience satisfied. But you know that filler won’t do—it’s got to be quality and quantity.

Great content is no accident. It requires careful planning to provide the value and variety your audience craves. At TopRank Marketing, we create content for dozens of clients. That’s a lot of blank space to fill. But when it’s over, we know the high was worth the pain (sorry, now I have Taylor Swift stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Hopefully you do, too).

Here’s how to create a content plan that’s designed to excel.

Creating Breakthrough Content: There Ain’t No Magic Feather #SMMW17

If you want to write amazing content like Ann Handley, don’t be a Dumbo.

Dumbo was convinced he could only fly while holding a “magic feather.” When he lost the feather mid-flight, he plummeted toward the ground. It wasn’t until he believed he could fly without the feather that he was able to take off again.

Too many would-be content creators are searching for their magic feather–the book, online course, or perfect antique typewriter that will make them a writer. And while they search, they can’t or won’t write.

So Ann began her session at Social Media Marketing World by asking us all to recite a pledge out loud:

“I don’t believe in unicorns, fairies, or Santa. There is no magic feather.”

7 Interactive Content Tools to Delight Your Audience

Your audience is reading your content on a device that is capable of wonders. Whether they’re using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, it can do much more than display text. What’s more, they’re connected to the internet, with limitless potential for communication and conversation.

In this context, interactive content makes a whole lot of sense. Why serve up nothing but plain text if, with just a little more effort, you can offer engaging experiences?

Interactive content might seem gimmicky, especially to B2B marketers. And I’ll be the first to admit: It is gimmicky. It’s absolutely designed to grab attention. But if your content provides value—if it’s worth paying attention to—interactive elements can help you bring in an audience. Interactivity isn’t a substitute for quality, just a supplement.

In a Content Marketing Slump? Spice up Your Program with These Tips

How can you turn out haute cuisine content on a fast food production schedule?

Your content team—especially if it’s a team of one—can be on the hook for creating a vast quantity of content. Between sales enablement, eBooks, white papers, and blog posts, it can be overwhelming.

The temptation to churn out uncreative but passable content is hard to resist, especially if you’re behind on the editorial calendar. This kind of rushed content can lead to each piece having a same-y feel—same format, same voice, same structure.

Not only is bland content hard for your readers to stomach, it’s not particularly inspiring to create, either. If you’re feeling like a short order cook instead of a celebrity chef, try these tips to spice things up.

How to Create Best Answer Content: 6 Inspiring Examples

Undoubtedly you’ve heard the expression “content shock,” coined by marketing expert Mark Schaefer.

With immense respect, I have to admit: I don’t believe in it.

The idea that there’s so much content out there, people are tired of content altogether? That no one’s giving new content a chance? That it’s too hard to get new content seen?

Not buying it.

I think what’s happening is simply this: People don’t want “content.”

They want answers to questions. They want a few minutes of entertainment. They want to learn something new. They want what they were searching for in the first place.

To reach our audience, we need to stop creating content and start producing the best answer to their queries.  Companies that adopt this content marketing strategy tend to top search engine rankings (Top…rankings…there’s an agency name in there somewhere, I can feel it).

Is Your Content Marketing Designed for the New Customer Journey?

Thanks to the rise of the internet, the explosion of social media and the development of mobile technologies to feed these two innovations, the customer buying journey has become much more self-directed. According to a Forrester, 74% of business buyers say they conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.

As a result, content marketing has emerged as an incredibly effective way to arm consumers with the information they seek and need, increase brand awareness, enhance engagement, and ultimately inspire action and conversions.

But content marketing isn’t about creating and sharing as much content as possible. It’s about creating quality content that allows you to be the best answer, whenever and wherever your audience is searching. And understanding today’s customer journey will be paramount to your content marketing success. Below is a great illustration from Forrester on the many intricacies that journey can entail. As you can see, it’s not an easy, neat sales funnel these days.

20 Talented Brand Marketers to Follow on LinkedIn

Marketers are always looking for new ways to inform, engage and inspire action from our target audiences, often looking to both established and well-known brands for motivation and creativity.

Thankfully, behind many of our favorite brands there are bright and talented marketing experts whom we can learn from and be inspired by.

With that said, below are some gifted brand marketers you should be checking out, connecting with or following on LinkedIn.

1. Jason Miller

Group Manager of Global Content and Social Media Marketing, LinkedIn

As the leader of global content and social media marketing for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, Jason Miller is dedicated to helping marketers understand how to take advantage of digital advertising and content marketing opportunities on the professional social network.

2017 Trends for CMOs: Ignite Content Performance with Influencers

Companies launching into new markets often spend substantial budgets on advertising and PR in order to create awareness. These investments can be significant when there is no existing affinity between the brand and the solution in target markets.

For example, Orange France faced this challenge when launching Homelive, a connected home management platform for IoT devices. Turning to their influencer marketing platform, Traackr, the company identified and engaged influencers in new communities outside of high tech and marketing to include lifestyle design and connected home. These influencers were engaged to create reviews on their blogs and inspire social traffic.