B2B content must loosen its tie and have more fun

LinkedIn’s Jason Miller on what B2B content marketers can learn from their B2C cousins.

As LinkedIn’s global group manager for content and social media marketing, Jason Miller knows about using content marketing to reach businesses. But as he started his career on the consumer side, working for Sony’s music arm, he thinks B2B content marketing could learn some valuable lessons from B2C.

Miller says that B2B leads the way in building relationships and measuring the impact of content marketing efforts, while B2C is better at crafting entertaining copy and getting it out into the world.

“B2B needs to get more creative, be bolder, and lighten up a bit,” he says. “Lots of brands are scared to try something new. Safe is the new boring. Just because it’s B2B doesn’t mean it has to be so serious all the time.

“The very definition of content marketing is to inform, inspire and sometimes entertain. I like the entertaining part the most.”

There are two essential ingredients to crafting bold creative content that doesn’t risk missing the mark, Miller says. The first is knowing your audience and what message is going to resonate with them. The second is using metrics to test and hone your messages before you throw all your marketing heft behind them.

“With the right approach, testing incentivises and enables creativity,” he says. “Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, you can try different creative approaches that have potential relevance for the target audience, and then optimise around those that work best. It’s a great way to avoid being overly cautious or making decisions by committee. For a while there was this huge movement towards big data and marketers seemed to forget about creativity – but nobody puts creativity in a corner!”

When it comes to finding messages that resonate, Miller believes in what he calls the “big rock” approach to content – creating one big piece of content a few times a year that can be recut and packaged into myriad assets. “You just have to ask yourself each quarter: what is the conversation that we want to own and what is the No.1 question on our prospects’ minds? Very often those are one in the same,” he says.

“The ‘big rock’ answers that question better than your competition. It’s not thinking like a publisher, it’s actually publishing like a publisher. Know something your audiences want to know? Write the book on it.”

Miller’s own portfolio includes “big rock” items such as the Big Marketing Activity Coloring Book and the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn and he says the approach is powerful because it’s doing more with less. “Creating one ‘big rock’ piece of content can fuel your social and demand generation channels for up to a quarter and many times longer than that,” he says.

“The original Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn has been our No.1 lead generator for almost four years. We update it every year, like a publisher would update their best sellers with a new edition, introduction and timely extra chapters. Then we deconstruct the entire ebook by putting it out there in smaller pieces (turkey slices if you will). We use this as ungated content, to drive traffic back to the ‘big rock’. It’s also scalable.”

Photo by Diana Feil on Unsplash