We’ve all seen the rise of influencers in B2C marketing. Every vertical has a dozen or more with followers in the millions.
B2B verticals, by contrast, are not nearly as saturated with influencers. Ask yourself, who is that person who commands the respect of your community?
Perhaps the correct term for B2B is actually thought leader but still, for most verticals, there is an opportunity to elevate your company to the rank of a thought leader.
Why do I care about thought leadership?
But first, what are the benefits of becoming a thought leader?
- You can influence or even guide the narrative and by association, your company and its products will exist in the halo of that narrative.
- A thought leader will be invited into the conversation with others in the vertical and earn the right to sell as a direct outcome: no cold calling, no spam. Your sales team will thank you.
- You will have direct access to future ideas and be able to keep your product and processes in line with the latest trends.
As we know from B2C channels on YouTube, it can take many years to build an audience which is why companies with quarterly attention spans haven’t pursued this strategy.
When you look at current monetization amongst top YouTubers, businesses cannot afford to continue to ignore this path to customer acquisition.
Mindshare grows out of trust and relevance
Dominating your vertical is really about having considerably more mindshare than your competitor.
The two most important variables in sales are trust and relevance. If I don’t know your company or the people trying to sell to me, I am very unlikely to take your call. I won’t even give you the opportunity to prove that your solution is relevant.
If I know and trust you, on the other hand, I am more likely to enter into a conversation in order to get your advice. Likewise, you are more likely to get recommended to me by someone I trust.
The more people that know my domain expertise, the greater the mind share I will have in a given vertical and the more opportunities I will have to sell.
The rules are simple, no selling and no spamming
In order to succeed with this strategy, you need to be pure of heart, meaning the content that you produce has to be authentically valuable to your audience.
When people come into this community, it is imperative that you don’t bombard them with spam and sales messages. They are unlikely to come back or recommend your company to others.
A sustainable plan to scale your content
Building a scalable content marketing program starts with proper planning. The first step is to create content pillars, the general themes that the content will address.
If you have done persona and buyer journey mapping, you already have the basis for determining the content pillars. You have already identified the information domain that defines your community. The difference between content for a customer journey funnel and this strategy is that the content more generally educates and helps the audience and doesn’t end with ‘and this is how we solve your pain point.’
The scope of your programming is determined at this stage. For example, if you have three personas, a three-stage journey (awareness, discovery, decision), and sell into three verticals, you need to think about covering 27 content topics.
Next, we create the editorial committee. This group is responsible for identifying the experts that will appear on the show across each of the content pillars.
You can also include live events and webinars in the program calendar.
Here are the steps for each episode:
- The editorial committee picks the topic and the guest
- The episode is recorded
- A rough cut is produced
- A transcript is circulated to the team
- The content package is created
- The episode is posted
It is usual to shoot two or more episodes at a time meaning that shoots will take place one to two times per month to keep up with the four-episode per month schedule.
What content needs to be included with each episode?
The episode is just the starting point. To be effective, each episode needs to have supporting materials including:
- A thumbnail and descriptions for a YouTube post
- Social posts for LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and others depending on where your community lives online;
- Highlight short videos for social
- email copy and automation.
There are two factors that make this sustainable:
- You are repeating the exact same process each time.
- The show itself is the basis for all of the supporting content so the writing will reflect the quality of the show itself and not depend on a writer to make it up.
Using AI to develop content
AI is here to stay and something that every marketer needs to master. The most important thing to understand is that it is just a tool and does not replace the critical thinking that must go into content creation in order to make it relevant and engaging.
Think of AI as a research assistant. AI is good at creating content outlines and providing details on certain specific topics.
In order to get the best out of a tool like ChatGPT, you must master the art of the prompt. Also, think of it as a conversation not a search query.
Prompt 1 – You are a marketing expert specializing in content marketing
Response: As an AI language model, I am equipped to provide information and insights on a wide range of topics, including content marketing. I can offer advice on creating effective content strategies, producing engaging content, and measuring the success of your marketing campaigns. If you have any specific questions or concerns, feel free to ask and I will do my best to provide helpful guidance.
Prompt 2 – Give me an outline for 500 word blog post titled ‘The importance of content marketing’
Sure, here’s an outline for a 500-word blog post on the importance of content marketing:
A. Definition of content marketing
B. Importance of content marketing in the modern era
II. Benefits of Content Marketing
A. Boosts brand awareness
B. Helps establish authority in your industry
C. Generates leads and drives sales
D. Improves customer engagement and loyalty
III. Types of Content Marketing
A. Blog posts and articles
B. Social media content
C. Videos and webinars
D. Infographics and other visual content
E. Email newsletters and marketing
IV. Creating an Effective Content Marketing Strategy
A. Identifying your target audience
B. Setting goals and objectives
C. Choosing the right channels and platforms
D. Developing a content calendar
E. Measuring success and adjusting your strategy as needed
V. Challenges of Content Marketing
A. Creating high-quality content consistently
B. Staying relevant and up-to-date
C. Standing out in a crowded marketplace
D. Measuring the ROI of content marketing
A. Recap of the importance of content marketing
B. Encouragement to invest in a content marketing strategy
C. Final thoughts and recommendations for getting started
This outline should give you a solid foundation for writing a compelling and informative blog post on the importance of content marketing. Good luck!
Additional prompts can be created for each section to further research. You can even ask for stats and data on certain practices. Keep in mind that ChatGPT only has data up to 2021 and so can’t give the latests stats. For this you will need Google!
- Google claims to be able to identify AI derived content and will disregard it for SEO. Always run your content through tools such as AI Detector which will flag sentences that it thinks are produced by AI. Once you’ve done it a few times, yo will see the patterns that it is looking for and this will help you to know content that should be rewritten.
- Stories and examples help to make your content more authentic which should be more compelling to your reader and is identified as NOT AI derived.
Pitfalls and problems to avoid
Over the course of producing thousands of episodes for various thought leadership series, the following is a list of common problems to avoid:
- Make sure there is at least one coordinator on the editorial committee. This person will attend to all of the logistics of getting the shows scheduled;
- Hire an outside production team that is accountable for the timeline. The most common ‘sustainability’ problem is when the inside team moves on to other priorities.
- Create a pathway from audience engagement to sales opportunity – this needs to be subtle but deliberate. A good example would be a product-oriented webinar being advertised on the channel.
- Deciding on a .com versus .org is an important decision. The advantage of a .org is the perception that it is intended to educate and is not for commercial purposes. It may also be easier to get partners and even potential customers to be featured since the show is separate from your brand.
Your SEO will thank you for this content strategy
Getting partner, customer, and thought leader traffic to your site will definitely add to your Search Engine Optimization. This can have an immediate impact on your organic traffic.
Another tip is to produce a series of content around certain themes. Google will rank you higher for certain keywords if it detects multiple pieces of content around the same keywords.
Building your audience: organic versus paid
YouTube will reward you for the frequency of this content and organic traffic should build relatively quickly. This goes back to the point that B2B doesn’t have the same concentration of influencers that B2C has.
The content packages for social will help increase the YouTube audience as well.
This content strategy also lends itself to paid audience acquisition since the authority of the material should be very high.
One common paid campaign when you have high-quality content is a YouTube pre-roll campaign. It’s those ads that run for a few seconds before giving you the option to skip to the content that you searched for play.
What’s great about the pre-roll strategy is that the search term indicated intent. If you can identify the right search terms and your content is high quality, it is quite possible to never be skipped. Your content is not an ad and it might even be more relevant than the video that was clicked on.
A long-term strategy with short-term benefits
Building a content series and YouTube channel is a long-term strategy that can take years.
There are, however, short-term benefits and payoffs:
- The halo effect of the series can immediately benefit your reputation and ability to generate revenue;
- The advantage of having high-quality programming right from the start is that you can use it for paid campaigns to build your regular funnel. This can begin with the first few episodes.
- Your SEO will immediately benefit from partner and customer traffic bringing more organic traffic;
- Partners wanting to sponsor content may bring additional sales opportunities.
It’s time to explore building a long-term content strategy and plans to dominate your vertical!