What makes a strategy successful? Big picture vision. The marketers that know where their brand story began, where it is right now and how they want it to be perceived six months from now, and six years down the road, are the ones capable of drafting a roadmap that will actually take them to where they want to go. Without this vision, the stream of short-term marketing strategies and clashing campaigns will ultimately hold an organization back from the big vision end goal – business growth.
Want to see successful strategic content marketing in action? Here are the the best examples of B2B content marketing tactics and strategy that will show you what happens when you take a bird’s eye view of your brand’s story.
Grange Insurance’s Use of Brand Identity
Grange Insurance sells to both individuals as well as businesses but where they exemplify superior marketing vision is with their B2B strategy. What they’ve done to stand out is to build an iron-clad brand identity – down-to-earth and approachable. They humanized insurance agents. This is no small task for business insurance – a sector known for its dry, confusing jargon and challenging claims processes.
Where Grange’s competitors banked on sheer size and business longevity to build trust, Grange does the opposite, talking about their independent, local agents and focusing their content on being transparent, inviting and helpful.
For example, instead of simply talking about their size, they have tons of insurance products to choose from to create a customized business insurance policy – which implies the customer has to figure out what will work for their risk reduction needs themselves – Grange offers to unravel the mystery for the customer right away:
Even though an insurance agent from another company would work with a client in the same way, it is the marketing that distinguishes them. It is a subtle difference but it dictates their entire marketing strategy and can be found throughout Grange’s digital presence. Take for example the company’s very active LinkedIn page. There are consistent posts, all fitting nicely into the brand persona of being helpful and human, from insightful insurance articles to touching agent videos.
Grange has created an identity as the little guy – the independent company that will listen to its customers’ needs. And as such, builds trust. Even though, Grange Insurance is a big, franchise-led company, just like its competitors.
Zendesk Delights in Customer Delight
This B2B company has positioned itself as more than just a helpful business software service, but also a hub for customer relationship building. Is it a coincidence that a company that offers live chat, analytics, and other customer relationship software is also one of the best B2B marketing strategy examples for getting customer delights right? Or – maybe these people really know what they are talking about.
Visit the Zendesk home page and you can download your free eBook, sign up for a free demo and register for the next Zendesk Global conference.
That’s a lot to offer from a brand that was still a fledgling startup operating out of a loft in Copenhagen in 2007. Zendesk has grown tremendously in the past decade. From 2015 to 2016 alone, they experienced a year-over-year growth rate of 41.5 percent. Here is a brand that understood the value of customer relationships and applied it to their own marketing strategy. It worked.
On their website, their list of resources is just as long as their products list. An online library that rivals Alexandria, live webinars, training and certification exams. All of this is in addition to the online website content that for many businesses is as far as they go.
HubSpot Seizes Industry Thought Leadership
Hubspot has re-written the rules of B2B marketing strategy. This is the company that came up with the phrase, ‘inbound marketing,’ and has in so many ways shaped the digital marketing industry.
Chance – or brilliant, long-term planning. From free courses at the Hubspot Academy to not one, but three blogs, to the yearly INBOUND conference, Hubspot is the go-to expert for inbound marketing know-how.
Like Zendesk, Hubspot is still a relatively young company. It was founded in 2006 in Cambridge. That year, it managed to acquire three customers. By 2012, the company had garnered 8,440 customers and $53 million in revenue. Four years of webinars, blog posts, live events, and other content later – Hubspot’s total revenue in 2016 was $271 million.
Intuit’s Brand Community
Intuit, the tax and business accounting software provider that is behind QuickBooks and TurboTax, has been leveraging user-generated content for years, connecting their various buyer segments with expert advice and user-generated content.
- The program for QuickBooks ProAdvisors – users who have become certified by QuickBooks – creates an incentive for one segment, professional accountants, tax advisors and business consultants, to become more engaged with the brand. They, in turn, gain a platform to attract their own clients and enhance their reputation as a ProAdvisor. Intuit’s small business owner and self-employed customer segments gain the valuable connections and expert advice. The QuickBooks brand further establishes itself as way more than a software provider, but a comprehensive resource for various target audiences to meet all their accounting and tax needs, including education, upskilling and marketing.
- Intuit hosts a live community forum, the TurboTax Live Community, which is filled with user-generated content – tax advice, questions, updates, and other value-driven, customer-centric content.
- There are also social media campaigns like TurboTax’s Share Your Success Story on Facebook. Once a customer uses TurboTax, they are prompted to share a review on Twitter.
Intuit also utilizes a forum, as well as a dynamic community with QuickBooks, the QuickBooks Community. There’s a wealth of user-generated content – tips, inspiration, discussions and member stories. You could grab your toothbrush and laptop and move into the QuickBooks world there’s so much content and such a vibrant brand community. What’s in it for the ‘customer content creators’? Reputation, insights and business growth. Those are powerful offerings to motivate engagement.
Houzz’s Idea Center
Houzz is an online company that straddles B2B and B2C commerce, connecting architects, designers, painters, builders, suppliers, and a dozen other professionals with end customers, while providing a platform for all of their market segments to share ideas, and for their B2B customers to sell their services.
Houzz’s Stories and Advice channel is a library of user-generated content. Home renovation and design professionals can post guides, tips, and other advice, using the Houzz platform to drive business for themselves and to grow their reputation. There are also discussion forums on both home projects and gardening, where users can post projects and ideas and get feedback, and even vote on other users’ design choices.
As with Intuit’s QuickBooks, Houzz has created its own social network with its online brand community. This is where B2B user-generated content can be several steps ahead of B2C content. It offers a channel for its B2B customers to market to their customers, creating long-term value for users.
Shopify’s Customer Support
And then there’s Shopify, the Canadian cloud-based e-commerce platform that went from 0 to more than 1,000,000 active users since its launch in 2004. From 2015 to 2016 alone, the company grew by 90 percent, finishing off the year with $389.3 in revenue.
Tobias Lutke, a computer programmer by trade, created the platform that was to become Shopify after he and the brand’s other co-founders – Scott Lake and Daniel Weinhand – decided to create their own platform to launch their online snowboarding equipment company. Created as a solution to a lack of e-commerce support, Shopify has been coming up with new and better ways to support entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized business owners ever since.
Their marketing strategy has revolved around building a support framework for their customers:
- Free stock photos
- Success stories
- App, theme, and hardware store
- Network of setup, designer and developer experts to help customers get started
- Free tools including a barcode maker, business card maker, and refund policy generator
Basically, they have everything a customer could possibly need, including the ongoing support and help center and 24/7 support.
Adobe Goes Visual
Adobe uses Instagram as its UGC platform of choice for customers to share their visually-stunning content. The makers of Photoshop and Illustrator have created an entire brand community for users to showcase their work, get inspiration and to receive feedback from other creatives. Instead of just posting anything, Adobe creates a theme for users to follow each month. This encourages the same customers to contribute regularly, driving more content. It also makes exploring and engaging with the images more compelling because there’s always a fresh concept.
As with the other examples, Adobe isn’t just running a one-off campaign on a social media channel. They’ve planted the seeds for ongoing, self-perpetuating user-generated content. That’s the magic of B2B user content creation. Once it has started, it keeps going because the customer creators have a perpetual incentive to post, share and engage.
This is different than B2C campaigns, which tend to be short-lived, cyclical, or require a constant input of new customers – which means the brand has to keep promoting the UGC campaign in order to keep it going or to restart it. With B2B customer content, on the other hand, the customers become ‘co’creators, participating with the parent brand community to foster growth and share knowledge. In the process, everyone wins.
- The brand becomes an even better established industry thought-leader.
- The ‘co-creators’ (the B2B customers) get to share their expertise, thus attracting customers for themselves, as well as other positive industry attention.
- And, the customers of the customers gain easier access to the experts and professionals they may benefit from, while also having access to infinite, first-hand, authentic content.
For UGC B2B success, make it the good stuff, the practical, concept-sharing, worthwhile content. You’ll not only inspire engagement but also more long-term marketing goals like establishing your brand as an industry leader, building trust, and forging stronger customer relationships. The more work and thoughtfulness you put into creating a platform for your B2B user-generated content, the more you empower your brand community to grow on its own. Plant the seeds, give your customers space, and watch your content grow.
Genius Strategy Equals Mega Growth
These brands all have raised the bar on B2B content marketing. The sheer depth of their content is not something that was created overnight. It didn’t just happen because it fell into place. The vision to get from point A to point B via strategic marketing was formed into a plan of action. Then, from point B, you can see points D, E and F. So you start working towards C, with the vision to go even further in mind.
Brands like Hubspot and Zendesk didn’t start out with all this rich, well-thought-out content. But they did start somewhere. And they always stayed true to the original vision – offer something customers need and make that need crystal clear.