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Navigate the B2B Marketing Landscape in Three Simple Steps

I had the opportunity to attend the Business Marketing Association’s Blaze conference here in Chicago last month – two and a half days full of discussion about B2B marketing. Marketing and public relations are changing big time, and many of the sessions focused on content marketing as a big part of this shift.

But what is content marketing? Most of us are doing it wrong. We need to be aware and careful to not just create content for the sake of creating it. Everything we produce should be deliberate. As a follow up to that, we should not be treating content marketing programs as “campaigns” – that old school mindset is why many programs fail. Campaigns by their very nature stop. Content should never stop.

So without further ado, I’ll share some key takeaways from the event.

Create meaningful content—and use it to leverage your brand

The content you create for your company should be more than just a relevant article, blog post or Facebook update. Your content should tell a story that is both relevant and engaging for your customers. Once you’ve crafted that story, make sure to promote across all of the important channels to your audience. For B2B marketers, outlets such as LinkedIn, Twitter and SlideShare - in addition to your blog, email campaigns and your website - are great options to promote your content.

Think about content that's already drafted. No doubt you have white paper saved on the company server somewhere. These initiatives shouldn’t be a one-and-done effort. You can use content from white papers and presentations as a basis for subsequent blog posts, Facebook updates and Tweets in order to connect your audience with information that’s important to them. Oftentimes, one piece of marketing collateral can feed into an array of content opportunities and provide a foundation for many other story opportunities, so use it wisely!

Use social media effectively

Kevin Espinosa, Social Media Manager in Global Marketing for Caterpillar (CAT), presented at the conference on the “four pillars” of social media strategy - listening, promotions, thought leadership and customer support. These pillars build community around your brand without directly selling to your audience, which offers personalized support and assistance.

Learn how and when your audience uses each social channel so you can push out relevant content when your audience is actively engaged. Use site analytics to discover optimal posting times for your audience, and you can ensure they are exposed to your content and engaging with your brand. For example, when Caterpillar discovered that Facebook was blocked for many of the business professionals they were targeting, they decided to push out information on Facebook after work hours in the evening when their audience was active, and engagement increased.

Content ≠ campaign

The shifting B2B landscape is all about content marketing. But leave the old idea of "campaigns" behind. Quit thinking of your strategy as having an end, and start developing content with a purpose.

Use the news to your advantage – by keeping up with hot topics in your industry, you will find that it becomes easier over time to craft a story that’s both relevant and newsworthy. This allows you to create interactive content that your customers will understand, acknowledge, and enjoy.

In addition, keep a list of evergreen content that is of interest to your audience, and work on maintaining the list for constant content.

The bottom line? Creating quality content is simple if you use the information at your disposal wisely. Tell a story with your content and correctly engage customers in that, and you are set to succeed in the changing B2B marketplace.