How to create B2B content that cuts through the noise
Good content is so important now more than ever, especially for B2B content creators. In a saturated market only good content stands out - or bad but usually for the wrong reasons, and mediocre content just doesn’t get traction at all.
The quality of the content you’re making is far more important than volume. Don’t make content for content’s sake; speak when you have something to say and lean into your brand identity to identify what it is you should be saying and how.
I have outlined 3 key elements that I have found to be successful when creating content. The list is by no means exhaustive but these are the most important ones to us at 11:FS.
A distinctive voice is a huge asset
B2C marketing is full of examples of brands with distinctive and easily identifiable voices, from Innocent Smoothies to Nike, Old Spice to Liquid Death. This is much harder to do if you’re a B2B creator, particularly in financial services, but we have always found that having an authentic voice makes all the difference. Audiences can see through something that has been sanitised by corporate sign offs and jargon, they don’t take the content at face value or they don’t engage with it at all. Let your brand representatives’ passion show, your content will be better for it. People want to be spoken to like humans. They want to hear the true thoughts and feelings of the writer or speaker they are engaging with. Some great examples include Ron Shevlin pulling no punches in his Snark Tank on Forbes, Jason Mikula’s detailed takedowns in Fintech Business Weekly or our conversations on the Fintech Insider podcast, particularly on the news show. We are not afraid to poke fun at the financial services industry and to give our unfiltered opinions to changes within it, while at the same time being passionate about improving it. It is crucial for a brand to own what it's saying, really believe it, and have a strong voice that is identifiably theirs across all content, whether spoken or written.
Create a consistent drumbeat
Having clear content values top of mind when drawing up content roadmaps and creating content, makes it easier to gauge what is “good” by your own standards, and what will resonate with your audience. For example, the 11:FS content values are Authoritative, Provocative and Human. These are our North Stars whatever content we are creating and for whichever medium. We identified them as keystones in our brand identity that our audience defer to our content for, and we owe it to our audience to ensure we’re giving them content that lives up to that. It is sometimes not possible to use all three of them in a perfect Venn diagram, but depending on the subject matter you can flex some more than others. For example when commenting on the cost of living crisis we would defer more to the Human value, when giving deep industry analysis in a research report or Explores video we would defer more to Authoritative, or when debating BNPL on an After Dark live recording we can afford to be more provocative and cheeky.
Always know why you’re making the content before you start
Define what success means to you
It does not have to mean going viral or doing huge numbers - although that’s also fantastic too for brand awareness and cut through and shouldn’t be discounted! It means whatever is a success measurement for your business, in our team this is what we call the “so what?” factor. This goes beyond the creation of the content itself but instead is about the reasons why you’re creating the content in the first place. For a B2B content creator where biz dev is a key goal, if a million people watch that video but none of them send you any follow up enquiries or no leads are generated as result, what was it for? But if 2 people watch your keynote and you end up doing million dollar deals with both of them afterwards, surely that’s a more successful piece of content to your business.
It is also important to note there is not one single success metric for all content, it can be flexed depending on the content itself and its desired outcome. Some can be pure brand awareness and profile raising, some can be thought leadership, and some can be business development - and ideally all three together, but the point is to always know why you’re making the content before you start.
Don’t tell me what you’re selling, make me want to know more about you and your company via amazing case studies or the breadth of your knowledge or the passion for your niche.
Show not tell is always best
No one wants to read a sales pitch, or listen to one when enjoying a podcast, research report or blog. Even if biz dev is a goal, do not default to a sales pitch in content that is not directly sales collateral. Show you know what you’re talking about and the rest will come. When engaging with a piece of content, be it a podcast, a thought piece, a video, audiences immediately turn off when they get to “the sales pitch”, usually shoehorned in at the end or somewhere in the middle when they can be sure they’ve got your attention. It’s an instant turn off and can ruin an otherwise great piece of content. Don’t tell me what you’re selling, make me want to know more about you and your company via amazing case studies or the breadth of your knowledge or the passion for your niche. Make me come to you because I’m curious, or impressed, not because I feel suckered in by a pitch.
Never stop learning
In a world of viral content and the huge wealth of content creators producing content all the time, it’s important to stay alert to new trends and techniques for content creation and distribution. Fintech Insider has been running for nearly 7 years, but while the voice and tone of the show may remain the same, the content itself is constantly evolving. We are always evaluating market trends, what our audience wants to hear from us, and what we as a business want to say, then also aligning that with our content values. It’s also important to be self critical, we are always reviewing how well each piece of content did and looking for improvements along the way, or the learnings we can apply to the next piece. Never sit still, always be evolving.
My unfiltered opinion
Good content is so important and can be a key differentiator in a crowded market. That seems like a given. But it needs to be true to your business’ values, true to life (no robotic jargon or PR pieces) and successful in whatever way you define that to be. But the key trick is to speak when there’s something to say or when your audience wants to hear from you, never oversell, and never stop learning.