Over dinner a couple months ago in Austin, a few of my B2B marketing peers pointed out how much influence my days as a publisher have had on the way I approach demand marketing.
I hadn’t given it too much thought before then. However, after hearing the observations of my fellow marketers, I reflected on some of the “go to” strategies and tactics in my current marketing playbook. Indeed, I have carried many of my media company learnings into the B2B marketing world.
Inspired by my colleagues, here are a few publisher strategies that I’ve seen drive significant, cumulative value for B2B marketers.
1. Develop POVs on topics that matter to your audience
The single biggest lesson I’ve learned (and have used religiously) is the power of developing Points of View (POVs).In the media and publishing world, editors and publishers meet regularly to debate the most important, current industry topics and develop a clear “take” or “point of view” on subjects to present to their audience.
For B2B marketers, POVs are embedded in our core communications, and they amplify what our brands – company, product or personal – stand for. POVs are most effective when aligned with key business drivers, market trends, industry conversations and customer pains and priorities. This POV immersion and alignment helps your brand stand out and boosts relevancy in the increasingly noisy, crowded markets we serve.
An example of a big market trend in MarTech for POV alignment is account-based marketing (ABM). Everybody is talking about ABM. So, it’s important to develop your company’s take. At Integrate, our ABM POV has been “companies don’t buy anything, people do.”
While everybody in the ABM world is focusing solely on accounts, our POV emphasizes the need to focus both on the accounts AND on the people – decision-makers, buying committees, etc. – representing the target accounts who’ll actually sign the checks. This take delivers a unique perspective that amplifies and drives home our core value proposition and one our customers gravitate to as a best practice.
2. Use cross-channel content and formats to gradually build discussions
In the publishing world, topical POVs are developed to educate, dissect and/or explain trends or events throughout their life (or news) cycle. This builds interest and interaction, and enables the audience to follow the story, see it unfold and, in some cases, participate in it. This means content is rarely developed for one specific communications piece or medium. Rather, it keeps building and is deployed over time in different formats.
As B2B marketers, we should rarely, if ever, develop a single communications effort – blog, presentation, video, infographic, ebook, case study – that’s only used for one medium. For example, you may start with a company blog that explains your POV or market shift. It can then be complemented by a:
- More in-depth whitepaper or guide
- Handful of expert video interviews to amplify the key points
- Presentation delivered at an industry conference
Leveraging a multi-channel, multi-format approach allows you to build the “story” and engagement over time.
It would be awesome (and a miracle) if your prospect universe and stakeholders could get your key points in one take. The reality here is you want to use the power of repetition, but with the twist of using different content formats and delivery channels, letting your buyer/audience choose the method they prefer.
3. Get visual to tell your story
Successful media outlets are disciplined at using compelling images, graphics and headlines to draw their target audience into the subject matter. No, I’m not talking about “click bait.”
A strong visual will conjure up the right ideas, explain a complex set of events, or provide data that helps the audience understand the key points.
The power of visualization may seem obvious, but it’s constantly missed. It might be because it can take time and talent to develop compelling visuals. In my experience as a marketing exec, this is essential and worth the investment to include in your B2B marketing arsenal.
The fact is content with relevant images get 94% more views than content without images. And with B2B brands often offering more complex solutions that may take time to fully grasp, using visualization becomes even more important to your success.
To get even more out of your visual effort, steal these often-used tactics from successful publishers:
- Make the graphics/charts/images easy to share and steal for their own use
- Use short, descriptive captions to educate your audience
- Source images and data from reputable industry experts and organizations
4. Use news or trend-jacking to increase relevancy
B2B publishers not only inform and educate their audience, they often help shape and create market trends. They’re savvy about being expert sources for the mainstream media and are featured speakers at industry conferences. Here they share their POVs via data charts, visual presentations and discussion panels.
B2B marketers benefit from applying this same approach, often referred to as “trend-jacking.” Many analysts, reporters and news outlets are looking for commentary and subject matter expertise when news breaks or when they’re writing an article on a given topic. This is a perfect opportunity to offer your commentary and expertise via an interview, quote or proprietary data to support your POV.
For example, when a major security breach happens, info security companies are quick to offer their expertise, data and perspective on what happened, what it means and what can be done to prevent breaches in the future. Think about your areas of expertise, use your POVs, and be ready to capitalize when news breaks or industry trends shift.
5. Check out Chiefmartec.com for publisher hacks in action
To see such publisher hacks play out in the real B2B marketing world, we need look no further than what Scott Brinker, also known as @chiefmartec, has done with his often-cited MarTech landscape chart.
The editor of chiefmartec.com and MarTech Conference Program Chair uses the full publisher playbook. Scott diligently:
- Develops POVs around the explosion of MarTech
- Shares content in multiple formats keeping this topic front and center in board and conference room discussions
- Visualizes the marketing technology universe to amplify and dissect the various segments of the landscape
- Capitalizes on trend-jacking, regularly being interviewed and featured as part of MarTech articles and conferences.
Hell, he even put his POV all together in a book to deliver on the ultimate “publisher” strategy.
In my opinion, these are very smart publishing lessons and hacks thoughtfully applied in B2B marketing.