B2B marketers are having a moment.
The world is bonkers, everyone is trying to do more with less, and the pressure to drive growth is high. As we all try to make sense of the changing landscape of content marketing, there’s one simple rule that should be guiding us in the year ahead:
Tell your own stories on your own channels on your own terms.
B2B marketers have 30% more functional responsibility than they used to—and they’re taking on those new responsibilities at a time when platforms are changing, influence is shifting, and the old ways of measuring success are falling short. So how can this one rule guide us through the turmoil?
Let’s break it down piece by piece.
Tell your own stories …
Surprise: New research shows that people today trust businesses more than governments, nonprofits, and the media. So it’s time for B2B marketers to seize that power and tell the stories they want to tell—about their company’s people, innovation, and unique offerings—to an audience that’s ready to hear it directly from the source.
To maintain that trust and build relevancy, focus on both facts and feelings. In a time where every word is subject to public scrutiny, accuracy and honesty are paramount. But while data will appeal to your audience’s senses of reason and logic, you also need to reach them on an emotional level. Connecting the facts to shared values and sentiments allows you to tell information-driven stories that are packaged for humans.
And if you think you can tell them through traditional campaigns … think again. When audiences expect brands to adapt in real time, episodic campaigns can feel out of step—or worse, inauthentic. Instead, rethink ways your storytelling can play the long game by filling information gaps, stimulating new thinking, and educating your customers.
… on your own channels …
We’re witnessing a fundamental change: the decline of social media’s status as the unquestioned public forum and primary source of information. That shift (and its advertising implications) will have an outsized impact on businesses that need B2B content to reach, engage, and motivate customers in ways that banner ads and 15-second pre-rolls can’t.
From Twitter to TikTok, social media companies are in the impossible position of having to be both publisher and platform, undermined by misinformation and rogue influencers. Instead of waiting for them to figure it out, it’s time for us to go our own way. How? By finding methods to use our own platforms as the foundation of a new information infrastructure. Instead of building your content house on someone else’s land—namely, the shifting sands of social media—double down on your own channels, with your company website as the starting point.
… on your own terms.
Right now, everyone who knows content is talking about one thing: the creative revolution spurred by artificial intelligence. But while AI software like ChatGPT is growing more sophisticated and more exciting, it’s not all the way there yet.
AI-created material can feel flabby, inaccurate, and impersonal. For companies that simply want to churn out quantity, it works; but for those looking to satisfy a public appetite for quality and authenticity, it can be unsatisfying.
Instead of shortcuts, this year is about setting new terms for how you communicate and how you build relationships with customers. Trust and relevance start with decoding the chatter, determining what resonates in real time, and connecting with the conversation. Consider micromoments of relevance that build over time, or the conversations that micro-audiences are having, and how you can respond in meaningful ways. And while in-the-moment reactions matter, it’s also about learning and refining continuously, to keep your relationships with your audience close.
A new mantra for marketers
In 2023, we’re betting on content. Where ephemeral or shallow social posts and slow-to-adapt campaigns are out, content you control is now in. This year, use solid facts and a human heart to speak your brand’s truth. Use your own platforms to build authority and control the message. And set new terms for how you reach and respect your audience. In short: Tell your own stories on your own channels on your own terms.