You follow all the B2B content marketing best practices. You position your articles as “tips and tricks” and how-tos. You write attention-grabbing headlines.
So why is your content still not getting read or widely shared?
It’s simple: when audiences keep hearing the same old song, they tune you out.
To help you hit the right notes, Jim Williams, Influitive’s VP of Marketing, sat down with Jay Acunzo, a craft-driven content creator who helps tech startups to gain traction in his day job at NextView Ventures, to figure out what you can do differently. As a former journalist and the creator/host of the awesome marketing podcast Unthinkable, Jay was able to share a ton of ideas for creating more compelling content.
Watch the video interview below or read on to get the highlights from our conversation with Jay.
1. Don’t get stuck in the B2B content marketing echo chamber
On his podcast, Unthinkable, Jay explores how to go from being an average content marketer to an exceptional one. “I’m trying to help people trust and hone their intuition so they can go from that ‘follow the list’ type of marketer to somebody who stands out in the noisiest world we’ve ever seen.”
This requires marketers not get stuck in what he calls “the echo chamber”—a deafening room of content sameness. To avoid this trap, he suggests staying humble, keeping an open mind and seeking new experiences that add to your skill set.
On an episode of Jay’s podcast, a writer named Juliana explains how she answered a Facebook ad to write for a beer magazine—a topic about which she had little knowledge. Because she wasn’t a beer expert, “she got away from the listicle, how-to tips and tricks crap, and started writing human interest pieces about beer customers, and about the industry—not just the market leaders but about interesting people,” says Jay.
Using her perspective as an outsider helped her pitch ideas that might not be obvious to those in the industry. The opportunity helped her stand out from other content marketers and manifest more creativity in her day job.
2. Get closer to your customers
Jay argues B2B marketers are “wasting millions of dollars a year on SEO consultants and technology.” Instead, he suggests investing more time in talking to customers so you can answer their questions by speaking their language.
The key is finding moments where you’re interacting with them on a one-on-one basis and seeing if you can take elements of that conversation and publish it for the world to see. The customer in that exchange should be the star in your content.
“I learn so damn much from the marketers who listen to my show,” says Jay. In fact, he plans to one day turn some of the offline chats he has with his listeners into an informal podcast or video series called “Therapy Sessions.”
3. Data won’t give you all of the facts; your intuition matters too
From Jay’s perspective, your best story ideas come from asking intuitive questions that go beyond what your analytics uncover. For example, a researcher named Eric Siegel recently conducted a study that revealed vegetarians miss fewer airline flights.
By reading the data, you might conclude that airlines need more vegetarians on their flights because they always show up. “But your intuition would ask ‘Why DO vegetarians miss fewer flights?’’’ asks Jay.
By digging deeper, Siegel discovered that passengers are less likely to miss a flight due to a feeling of indebtedness to the airline when they go through the trouble of filling out a form and requesting a custom meal. The revelation was that airlines don’t need to target more vegetarians in their marketing; instead, they have to entice more people to create custom meals—or request other personalized services—that will make them less inclined to miss their flight.
Jay used a food analogy to explain how Siegel’s study applies to content creation: “An analytics report gives you the ingredients, but it’s not the recipe.” In other words, follow your gut to define the next steps.
Letting go of some control
In the end, Jay believes it’s an oversight to think that it should just be you at the controls of your content. Marketers might be guiding the strategy, but they need to go outside of your company’s four walls to create more compelling stories. Get outside perspectives, create user-generated content with your customers and look for unexpected data trends so you can rise above the B2B content marketing echo chamber.
To learn more about how to create craft-driven, intuitive content, check out Jay’s podcast at Unthinkable.fm and sign-up for his newsletter (we’re subscribers!).
We’ve also featured Jay’s insights in our latest ebook, Inspiring Customers to Create Content For You: A Marketer’s Guide, if you want more strategies.