b2b content library

            Your blog is a library, not a publication.

When I read that in marketer Jimmy Daly’s helpful newsletter, I nodded along and had to hear more.

At the time, I was in the thick of a content audit that was taking up a lot of my brain space and energy — wading through years’ worth of content that was mediocre at best. I was trying to dig up the gems and make them shine. Through my work on the audit, I’d realized that content marketers’ job is to get the best stuff front and center. Make it easy for your readers to find exactly what they need, when they need it.

I found Jimmy’s approach really helpful as a I worked through our audit, so I reached out to learn more about how he sees B2B content evolving, and how to create a helpful B2B content marketing library.

jimmy-dalyWhat do you wish B2B marketers would stop doing?

One of the huge problems that’s come up in B2B content marketing world is that people are putting out a lot of stuff without a lot of thought into why they’re doing it or who they’re doing it for.

There seems to be this lack of understanding that the reader probably doesn’t care in the first place. I think you have to walk into any marketing situation assuming that the reader is busy and probably doesn’t care. If they do care, they’re looking to solve a very specific problem.

It’s a little bit of a cynical approach, but I think that cynicism is actually a really good filter to pass ideas through to make sure the product you get at the other end is something that’s actually valuable to the reader.

If a reader commits to spending five minutes reading an article that I wrote or edited, I want to make sure that’s five minutes of their time that’s well spent. As a marketer, I should never take that five minutes for granted.

What happens when you think about your blog as a publication?

When people write a blog as a publication, a few things happen.

One, they tend to commit to an editorial schedule that has way too much volume. The more volume, typically the lower quality the articles that become part of that strategy. That’s a bad idea. There seems to be this feeling that you can make up for quality with volume. And even though the industry does seem to be shifting away from that, you do still see a lot of content that looks like content, smells like content but it doesn’t do that thing that content is supposed to do, which is inform and engage the reader and ultimately help the business make money.

When you think about a publication, their financial model is very different than a software company’s. They want as many eyeballs on the page as possible to make ad dollars, so for them it makes sense to pump out tons of volume.

That’s the complete opposite of a software company, where you’re really better off if you write three articles that are really great and give you traffic for five years.

The other thing that happens is you have to come up with so many topics to write about just to meet your volume quota. They become less and less relevant to your buyer. You end up using the same formats and templates over and over again.

And what happens when you try to build a library instead?

When you have less content on your calendar it’s easier to step back and plan a strategy ahead of time that’s going to help you write something that’s great, go through a thorough editing process, build a promotion plan, put together an email strategy — all the things that get lost when the focus is on getting out two or three articles a week.

So if you can identify, let’s say, three to five use cases for your product or five to 10 problems people hire your product to solve, that’s it. That’s your whole content strategy. And you can write really interesting, in-depth articles specifically about those topics.

That opens up new doors when you have a positive constraint — you’re only going to write about these 10 topics, so what are some new and interesting ways to do that? When you have a smaller amount of content to create, you can approach it from a lot of different angles.

For example, say you work for an email company and you just launched a new feature that has implications for marketers, and you want to tell marketers about it. So, you could:

  • Take a product perspective, and ghostwrite an article by someone on the product team about how they developed it, why they did it, if they interviewed customers as part of it — all the factors that influenced how this feature came to be.
  • You could do the same thing with developers if they’re part of your audience.
  • Then you also have a leadership angle. The CEO can jump in and talk about the industry, the long-term vision and why they thought this was important.

You can find all these interesting ways that reach different people within your potential buyer pool with a voice and from angles that are interesting specifically to them.

Libraries force you to curate specific topics.

In 2017, we’ve been treating the Rep Cap blog as a library, and working to make it a better library for B2B marketers. I’m curious to hear what other marketers think about this approach. Can you put your industry magazine out of business while thinking about your blog as a library? Tell me what you think on Twitter.