Authenticity: The Secret Ingredient to B2B Content Marketing

September 13, 2018 | Kirsten Lyons

In a time when brand trust is at an all time low, it’s not hard to imagine why B2B content marketing is searching for a deeper way to connect with audiences to deliver messages that resonate.

When thinking about how to combat the lack of trust buyers have in their B2B brands, content marketers should look to basics for answers — might we suggest a fan favorite of marketing 101 professors everywhere?

Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action

If a video isn’t your style or you’re in a tl;dr mood, here, leadership expert Simon Sinek argues that Apple, one of the most successful marketing organizations ever, owes all of its success to selling its customers on their why, not on the more intuitive what of their products. Sinek’s point here is simple: show people a vision–who you are, what you stand for–and they will buy that, not the specific features of your product or the minute details of your idea.

And successful B2B content marketing today hinges on a similar secret weapon: authenticity. In fact 80% of consumers said “authenticity of content” is the most influential factor in their decision to become a follower of a brand.

The case for Authenticity in B2B Marketing Content Marketing

B2B buying committees are increasing in size.

Research shows buying committees today consist of on average six to 10 stakeholders. As buying committees continue to expand, B2B content marketing can’t keep up with personalized content production. While a dedicated nurture stream for every decision-maker at every different prospect company sounds ideal, content marketers need to find a better way to scale connection with buyers.

Millennials are the fastest growing cohort of B2B buying committees, and research shows that they buy for who you are, not what you’re selling.

Just like in Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk, we can see from industry research that Millennials are more interested in company values and social responsibility than specific product features. Creating generic content that focuses exclusively on your product — not what your company stands for — won’t hold up today.

Buyers increasingly prefer to avoid sales conversations until later in the buying journey

Introducing a salesperson into the buying journey automatically humanizes your brand and can push buyers over the line to become customers. However, when buyerers today avoid interacting with sales until the late stage of their buying process, content and content marketers have to work overtime to humanize your brand, so leading with authenticity becomes paramount.  

Authenticity in Action: B2B Content Marketing Examples

Salesforce: Video case study

This video case study is embedded in Salesforce’s Sales Cloud overview page, and is a great example of how we can lead with authenticity across various types of content. The video case study opens with Salesforce’s VP of commercial sales explaining why he loves to come to work, and how he works to make salesforce “the most customer obsessed company in the world.”

Instead of the traditional framing of beginning the case study by presenting a problem their solution solved, Salesforce begins the case study by framing it around their identity and telling the story from there. By first illuminating their why, Salesforce gets buyers ready to listen and understand their product and as it relates to their values.

Uberflip: Brand voice on social Media

Social media copy is content too, and Uberflip uses social as a unique opportunity to use brand voice to convey authenticity. Instead of the removed, professional tone B2B companies often take on social in other content, Uberflip employs a voice that humanizes otherwise dry content and engages their audience.

You can see how they use an authentic social voice to promote other events and content, like an out-of-the-box blog post, community event, and company spirit day.

Kapost: Authentic Blog Posts

In this blog post featured on Kapost’s website, they approach authenticity from several different angles. This blog post acts like a self case study where the marketing team at Kapost earns major authenticity points: the narrative structure centering around their own failure and eventual success builds trust with the reader immediately.

The crux of the post’s argument also ties in with their broader philosophy and thought leadership stance on the necessity of building “content operations”. Through this format, Kapost is able to weave their major brand positioning into a humanizing blog post that feels authentic.

MarketingProfs: Personality-packed interactive content

This interactive assessment from MarketingProfs is built on an authentic connection with prospects. Not only does the assessment focus on understanding the user with the personality quiz format, the playful content humanizes the brand.

Beyond the quiz itself, personalized follow on content for each personality type, including instructional webinars, mean that MarketingProfs authentically develops thought leadership positioning that matches their brand identity.

Lead with what you stand for

Authenticity is critical today for B2B content marketing to succeed. As buying committees increase in size, millennials gain influence in purchase decisions, and B2B buyers’ preferences continue to evolve, leading with what you stand for and believe over specific product features and campaigns just for clicks is the secret weapon of modern marketers.

Read more about the evolving B2B buying process and how to meet the needs of today’s buyers with authenticity in our research report:

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