Learn B2B Content Marketing Thought Leadership Tips From a Catahoula Mix
By Evelyn Hoover | January 6, 2023
B2B content marketing thought leadership is lacking. How can companies’ content add real value? Here, MSPC VP of B2B content Evelyn Hoover recalls a marketing lesson she learned from owning her dog and offers tips for more effective B2B content marketing thought leadership.
My 7-year-old Catahoula mix was attacked by another dog last month. Bree came to us via a rescue organization so we don’t know a lot about her history, but we are reasonably sure there was trauma involved, as she’s scared of many things—the vacuum cleaner, thunder, fireworks, etc. Up until recently, we had never had to use the cone of shame on her, as she hasn’t had any surgeries or injuries that required it. After the attack, I brought it out of storage for her. To say she was terrified of it is an understatement.
I immediately began searching the internet for alternatives to the cone of shame and came up with the inflatable donut (I had no idea such a thing existed). While she didn’t love the donut, she definitely wasn’t terrified of it (that’s a big plus).
Which brings me to how I discovered the inflatable dog collar. Like most people I started with a question: What are alternatives for the cone of shame for dogs? Google kindly answered that question with an article from Oakland Veterinary Referral Services aptly titled, “Best Cone of Shame Alternatives.”
At that point, I knew I had to first read the descriptions to find one that wouldn’t freak poor Bree out. I decided on the Kong Cloud Collar because the article said it would not hinder my pet’s peripheral vision. This seems important to my dog. An added bonus is that the removable fabric cover can be cleaned in the washing machine. Bree can be a messy eater, so this was also important. The final factor was that the inflatable dog collar comes in sizes from small through extra large. She’s officially a large.
OK, great, I was thinking, I’m on my way to solving this little doggy dilemma. Then I had to make sure the Kong Cloud Collar was available at the pet supply store in the town of 20,000 where I live. Thankfully it was, so I was able to order it that night and pick it up the next morning.
Using Natural Search Queries in Content Marketing
I share this story not because I think you might be interested in learning about my dog ownership issues, but because I want you to think about the way that search started. I didn’t set out to search for the Kong Cloud Collar. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed. Instead, I had a problem: Bree couldn’t handle the cone of shame, so I entered in the Google search bar: What are alternatives for the cone of shame for dogs?
This is the natural way that humans search for answers to their challenges—regardless if they are looking for something for their personal lives (B2C) or professional lives (B2B). They don’t start by entering a company name into the search box.
For example, if someone needs to know if cloud computing can help reduce their IT budgets, they don’t immediately visit the AWS or Google Cloud sites, they might start with a natural search query like, “Can cloud computing help control my IT costs?” If they did so, they’d likely click on this article from Medium, which offers a piece of content marketing with a search-optimized headline: “How can cloud computing help reduce IT costs for businesses?”
It’s this challenge that I see many B2B companies in particular not solving with their content marketing. Many businesses lead with their company’s information, services and products first and completely miss the opportunity to engage with their customers or prospects as they seek information in the early stages of their buyer journeys.
B2B Content Marketing Thought Leadership Is Lacking
In a presentation at Content Marketing World this year in Cleveland, Forrester Principal Analyst Lisa Gately shared the results of Forrester’s 2021 Content Preferences Survey, which were published in a report titled “Find Your Thought Leadership Voice With Audience-Relevant Themes.” The most striking result was that 66% of B2B buyers said the material they receive from vendors is biased toward the vendor.
Most content marketing thought leadership misses the mark by lacking a unique point of view, missing prioritization and being too self-serving, according to Gately. Content marketing shouldn’t put your company first. Instead, it should answer reader questions by providing original thoughts and perspectives on a given topic, which ultimately positions the author and the author’s company as an expert.
Circling back to my dog’s issue, the Oakland Veterinary Referral Service, which serves pet owners (B2C) and veterinarians (B2B), didn’t present a piece of content about why its services are better than their competitors. Instead, it fulfilled the content marketing best practices Gately presented: It offered a unique point of view by outlining options, it prioritized the needs of the reader over the needs of the organization and wasn’t self-serving, apart from the last paragraph that did mention the company’s name and phone number.
B2B Content Marketing Thought Leadership Best Practices
Ultimately, B2B companies need to take a step back from their inside-out content development perspectives and instead focus on content that is original and provides value to the customers and prospects that comprise their audience. To do this, follow these B2B content marketing thought leadership tips:
- Answer questions. Think about the way people search and provide answers to the questions your audience is asking.
- Be original. Your content should not be the same as your competitors’.
- Think big. Position yourself and your company as THE source for original ideas in your industry.