ome industries have suffered more than others in the face of COVID-19. Reports have revealed that beyond consumer-facing sectors, such as hospitality and aviation, B2B companies related to textiles, machinery, energy, appliances, and fabricated metal products are also facing major contractions.
In a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty, how companies sell has become as important as what they are selling. More importantly, to win is to think outside the box. With more and more B2B marketers exploring content marketing as a way to rise above their competition, the savviest brands are thinking one step ahead — they’re developing content that influences downstream audiences, essentially reverse engineering demand. Here’s how it works.
How Can Content Help Midstream B2B Companies?
Most B2B companies have lengthy supply chains that include a long line of intermediaries before a product reaches consumers’ hands. As a result, their marketing efforts are frequently centered around immediate buyers, including other manufacturers or distributors, not the end-user.
When B2B marketers leverage content to influence downstream audiences, they’re designing a pull strategy to play the long game. By creating content that generates engagement and interest from end-users, the whole supply chain experiences a positive ripple effect of increased demand.
What Types of Content Can Help Influence Downstream Audiences?
Ultimately, it’s about developing content that can successfully drive desire for the end-product that consumers can purchase. Just remember that selling your product (which is likely different from the end-product) is not the primary goal; content should never be a thinly-veiled sales pitch. Instead, it’s about disseminating information or providing education. Here are some ideas on where to start:
- Start a blog. Blogging is ubiquitous with content marketing for a good reason — it’s an easy way to reach new audiences and engage with existingi ones. One example of a B2B company providing value to downstream audiences through their blog is Unity, a tech company that “provides real-time 3D creation capabilities” for creators across industries, such as video games. Visitors to their blog may be expecting high-tech jargon about 3D mapping and development; instead, they’re welcomed with posts about the coolest new video games or digital experiences that have just launched. It’s clear that these articles are not solely aimed at Unity’s customers but also the video gamers and tech enthusiasts who are consumers of the end-product.
- Make infographics. The best part about infographics is that they can be easily shared and embedded in other pieces of content, including blogs, e-books, and social media posts. They’re a great way to transform complex data into a more easily digestible resource for downstream audiences that may not have the technical background to understand your niche. Just make sure that the graphics are eye-catching and aesthetically-pleasing, the information is easy to follow, and your logo is included somewhere.
- Create case studies. Case studies can be used to explain a concept, trend, or research study with real-world examples. It’s an excellent opportunity to take a deeper dive and showcase your expertise. An example of a B2B brand that relies on case studies in their content marketing mix is the Renewable Energy Group, a company that produces biomass-based diesel and renewable chemicals. They create case studies on topics such as sustainability and biodiesel — though these resources aren’t necessarily targeted at driving sales, they serve to inform and educate the broader public on their industry.
- Start editorial initiatives. Whether it’s a print or digital magazine, editorial initiatives are a great way to combine information and entertainment into one. Bayer Scientific Magazine and Bayer Magazine are examples of editorial efforts from Bayer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturing and life sciences company selling both B2B and B2C products. Bayer’s magazines use journalistic storytelling for a variety of engaging healthcare, agriculture, and scientific topics. Though most of the company’s drugs are sold directly to the healthcare industry, their content strategy aims to inform a broader audience about the company with hopes that these consumers talk to their physicians about whether they could benefit from Bayer’s drugs.
- Find partners in your supply chain. Consider partnering with the intermediaries in your supply chain and creating co-branded content — you can sponsor a research study together, organize a virtual expert panel, or conduct an interview with their leadership team. A vertical marketing system where resources are shared allows companies to benefit from each others’ audiences, as well as provide end-users with a more nuanced understanding of the industry.
Are You Ready to Get Started?
Developing a content marketing plan that successfully influences downstream audiences requires creative and strategic expertise. On top of the tasks related to the process of content creation itself — from developing a content calendar to researching SEO keywords — marketers need to remember that end consumers have motivations, behaviors, and desires that are significantly different from their current clients.
Although many B2B companies are experimenting with creating content, content marketing done well is what sets companies apart. As an expert in helping B2B companies scale, we can help you rise above your competition. If you’d like a helping hand in sustaining revenue growth, just drop us an email today.