Is this what it feels like to be a teacher?
I always wondered what that job would be like. Every once in a while a student comes through who is likable and engaging, and who really blossoms with your help and assistance. Kind of like the occasional great approach shot - it's such a rush you hang in there for those moments! You also have the inevitable stray who simply doesn't get it, and the mass that plugs away, producing average work and gradually improving.
B2B marketing consulting is similar. Attending events and collaborating with agencies I hear frequent stories about their joys and frustrations. I listen with amusement and gratitude. My world is simpler, probably because I'm primarily a consultant to mid size manufacturing companies rather than a marketing agency per se.
But that doesn't mean I never have "pinch me is this really happening" moments. In fact I had one on Wednesday - and the origin wasn't a client but rather a "thought leader." I was simply reading a HubSpot blog post.
The headline caught my attention just as it intended - "How to Write About Things You Know Nothing About". This was going to be good, I thought. I clicked the link expecting an admonition about the folly of doing so, and suggestions for resources to consistently create great content for a range of B2B topics.
What I found was an article about precisely what the headline promised - a primer for people to actually write about topics of which they are entirely ignorant....
Time or money - the more precious resource?
Without getting philosophical, it's clear that people tend to attach a higher value to their time than their money. Charities find this routinely, and any business person who has ever had a customer agree to a deal, make an investment, and then never actually follow through becuase they are 'too busy', knows first hand.
So in B2B marketing and business development, ultimately the money piece is pretty easy. The real challenge is convincing prospects to invest their time in consuming the content which takes them on that buying journey.
The only sure fire solution is to create content that is valuable (insightful) enough to merit their investing precious time. That means that the content must not only inform, but also enrich their perspective on an issue.
It's unlikely in the extreme that a B2B buyer researching a complex purchase will find value in content created by someone with zero knowledge of their topic - regardless of the writer's enthusiasm or how closely they followed the HubSpot primer. There's a reason cub reporters cut their teeth on routine, local stories. And there's a reason that folks who write about topics with which we are all familiar (e.g. restaurant critics) are selected not only for their ability to write, but the particular expertise which infuses their analysis.
Content for B2B complex sales is one of the biggest challenges in B2B marketing consulting - and vexes consultants and clients alike. The solution, though, is a deep editorial bench, systems to support clients and industry familiarity - not a hopeful attempt to snatch content from the ether constructed around Google search results.
The critical ingredient is deep knowledge
Many folks struggle to write. Many of them are hampered more by hesitance than real inability to write cogently, nevertheless it's a common struggle. The good news for content marketers, though, is that there are many capable writers for hire. Writing well is important to creating great content - but it's not the limiting factor.
That factor is industry intuition - not just a series of facts. The knowledge upon which really valuable content is built is the knowledge of why an industry operates as it does, how companies make decisions in that space, how products support corporate objectives, etc. That takes a blend of perspectives from within a company - and often the fresh eyes and ears that B2B marketing consulting brings to an engagement.
Among the consultant's most valuable roles, therefore, are the ability to help catalog the institutional knowledge, codify it into an accessible form and apply it, through content, to the big challenges prospects face.
That takes familiarity with the specific industry environment, and a breadth of business experience to provide the perspective that's required.
That's the basis of great strategy, of successful business, of competent consulting and of valuable content.
Writing about things of which one knows nothing, in contrast, is a fundamentally flawed approach to inbound marketing.
Industrial marketing for B2B manufacturing firms is complicated - and the markets in which companies must compete are complex. Download our free whitepaper on the risks of oversimplifying B2B revenue growth strategy.