There are a lot of eye-catching headlines and images on social media. Some are blatant clickbait. Others seem to genuinely offer something of value.
When you click, what are you getting yourself into?
Didn’t your mother tell you not to message with strangers?
Sometimes it’s boring AF. You’ll never click on their content again.
At other times it’s entertaining. You have a good time reading, maybe even learning a thing or two. But then it’s over. There’s no spark to make you go looking for more.
And sometimes you find yourself waiting for the next post to drop, excited to hear more from the person whose work kept you engaged for several minutes. But it never arrives—or at least you get bored of waiting and move on. You’ve been post ghosted. Time to forget that ever happened.
Once in a while, something magical happens. You like a post. Then it happens again, so you leave an encouraging comment. Before you know it, you’ve read everything each other has written and begun sharing things with your networks. A connection request happens and, by playing it cool for just long enough, a conversation starts.
What’s the difference between these posts?
The consideration the person publishing the post has given to how their content will be received, who they’re writing it for, and what might make it engaging and valuable to that special someone.
Here are some tips on writing with the end in mind, which means starting conversations that can eventually lead to business opportunities, revenue, and growth.
Building the largest following possible is a terrible goal.
Why would large numbers of people want to follow you? Is the solution you’re trying to sell designed for everyone? For a large group of people? Or is it absolutely the best thing out there for a subset of a subset of the population?
In the B2B world, unless you’re a megacorporation, you’d better be crafting solutions for an underserved niche that is willing to compensate you generously for solving exactly the problem your expertise makes you best at solving.
When it comes to writing content to attract interest in your B2B solution, start with that audience in mind.
Attract and engage members of that audience. Convince them to follow you. Start relationships with them.
Build a large, engaged following relative to that population and you’ll be in total control of your target market.
Write it for them.
Everything you write must be relevant and helpful to members of your target audience.
They’re all different, but you can group them into buckets.
Some are ready to buy a solution like yours right now. They only make up about 5-percent of the group, but when you find them, introduce them to your sales team right away.
Too many writers get fixated on this sales-ready group. It has something to do with their willingness to spend money.
Dating rich people is fun, but there’s a much greater chance of starting a long-term relationship if you date people who aren’t rich yet but have the potential and attitude to get there.
Likewise, write content for audience members at every stage of the buyer’s journey and you’re far more likely to end up starting productive conversations that lead to revenue.
Some audience members are only just realizing they have a challenge to solve. Help them define it, put a value on it, and see that it’s worthwhile investing the effort to find the right solution.
Others are figuring out what solutions are available to them and wondering how to choose the best. Help them understand what’s important when choosing a solution and show them the pros and cons of what’s out there - including your solution and those of your competitors.
If you start a relationship with someone in these awareness and evaluation stages of the buyer’s journey, you’ll be top of their mind when they’re ready to buy.
So, let’s circle back to the question: what are they getting?
When you’re writing for prospects in the awareness and evaluation stages, think about what they need to move forward. It might be different from what you want to write about. Tough luck. This isn’t about scratching your writing itch. This is about helping your prospects experience a painless buying journey, from start to finish.
PS: don’t stop writing once the relationship has been consummated. If you want things to last—we’re talking retention, repeat purchases, upsell, and cross-sell—then you must work to keep things alive. The same rule applies: be relevant and helpful. Tell them how to get maximum value from the solution they purchased. Solve the issues they encounter. Make them feel special and smart for choosing your solution. Cultivate loyalty.
Are we a thing? Is this real? Same time next week?
Don’t keep your newly attracted reader guessing. Write consistently.
Businesses that produce relevant, helpful content on a regular basis see much greater return on their content marketing investment than those that publish erratically.
Humans love a certain amount of predictability. Be predictable in when you publish new content. Save the unpredictable bits for what you publish, although it must still fit within the boundaries of relevant and helpful to your audience.
And make sure you keep up the quality. Pushing out poorly written, insufficiently polished, error-riddled content just to keep up with your schedule is lame. Don’t be lame. If you can’t sustain the schedule, slow it down or get help from a ghostwriter or freelance editor.
If you only take one thing away from this post it’s this: be authentic, always.
The minute you start faking stuff, the relationship’s over.
B2B buyers aren’t robots, they’re human. Brands must earn their buyers’ trust.
Brands that produce authentic content—material that is consistent with the company’s purpose, mission, vision, and values—and that live up to that content IRL are the ones buyers trust most.
Authenticity doesn’t just mean telling the truth. It isn’t all about vulnerability and transparency. It’s about being you.
Everything that your company publishes should sound and feel like it’s coming from the same person. Your content must have a consistent voice. The tone and style of each piece must be appropriate.
If more than one team member is involved in writing your content—and especially if you employ third-party writers and producers—put together comprehensive brand guidelines to ensure those contributions match the company’s voice, tone, and style.
Always retain editorial control. Outsource the writing if you must, but someone on your team must hold the pen on final edits and approval to publish. It’s their job to check everything for authenticity.
What should they do if something doesn’t feel right? If a piece doesn’t quite sound the same as your company’s other work? They must refuse to let it out.
Content that’s off-brand or doesn’t maintain the company voice must be rewritten, re-edited, or simply rejected.
If it escapes and is seen by your audience, confusion will ensue. They won’t be sure anymore. Have you changed? You seem weird this time. Is something wrong?
There are four basic principles to writing content that attracts and engages prospects, helping you to build mindshare and be first in line when they’re ready to buy:
⭐ Figure out who you’re writing for. Your target audience is the niche group for whom your solution is absolutely the right choice. Write for them.
⭐ Write for prospects at all stages in their buyer’s journey (not just the ones who are ready to buy now). Think about what they need to efficiently progress through their journey and write about that. Don’t forget to write for the implementation and loyalty stages, too. If you want the relationship to last, work to keep it alive.
⭐ Write regularly. Don’t keep your audience guessing. Publish content on a consistent schedule—one that your team can sustain while producing high quality content every time.
⭐ Be authentic. Buyers trust brands that publish authentic content. Everything that your company publishes should sound and feel like it’s coming from the same person. Use brand guidelines to achieve consistency of voice, tone, and style even if multiple people (including ghostwriters and freelance editors) are involved.
Photos by George Pagan III, Joe Shields, and Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash