2020. What a year to try to learn a new job, a new company culture, a new niche. Meeting my new colleagues through little black squares on the screen, with only the cat to bounce ideas off or ask pertinent questions.
Lisa: “Where is the podcast file?”
Cat: *Look of disdain*
Luckily, the team I joined at Radix are very understanding, professional, flexible, and THE VERY BEST at what they do (hey, I’m new, so I still get to boast about my colleagues, OK? I’ll try not to make a habit of it), so what had been weird quickly became my new normal.
And what did I learn by diving into B2B content marketing in 2020?
1. Being adaptable counts
Every event, conference and face-to-face meeting across the globe was shut down by the pandemic from March onwards. Virtual team meetings, events and webinars became the norm, and, until the vaccine gets rolled out to most of the population, will continue for a good while yet.
That means our marketing schedule went out the window – and the really epic secret thing at the centre of this year’s plan had to be cancelled. Instead, we hosted a series of informal webinars and Q&A sessions – B2B Content Tuesdays – each of which then became a blog topic.
It was lo-fi, shoestring stuff, mostly intended to help people feel connected in the early days of lockdown. But it helped grow our audience in some unexpected ways, and also happened to bring us a brilliant new client. Turns out it’s good to listen to your gut, and give your audience what you feel they need in the moment – even if it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you’d usually expect.
Question is, why didn’t I buy shares in Zoom, and hand sanitiser?
2. Remote working demands high-value content
Everyone is working from home. They’re distracted and maybe they’re anxious, alternating between watching doom on the news and then discussing it online. Meanwhile, marketers can’t reach them in person… so every B2B brand has turned to content to fill the gap.
Cutting through all that noise is no easy feat; you have to work even harder to make sure your content resonates with the reader, and shows them exactly what they’ll get for their time. So I was really interested to read my colleague Katy’s handy guide to writing B2B content with value.
3. “Niche” is a superpower
One of the trickier things I’ve needed to get my head around this year is the niche where we work. Not all of marketing, but copywriting. Not all of copywriting, but B2B. And not all of B2B, but B2B tech.
But as I’ve come to understand that niche, it has become clear what an advantage it is to have a clearly defined specialism. It means I know exactly who our marketing is speaking to at any given time, and what their challenges are likely to be.
And when our marketing does generate a good lead, the conversion rate is really high – because the marketer has a clear idea of what we do, and we already have the expertise to do the job well. Having a niche creates a platform where my colleagues can be genuinely world class (OK, that’s the last boast, I promise).
4. Social responsibility isn’t just an external issue
Global pandemic? Check. Climate change? Check. Socially responsible? Check.
2020 was the wakeup call that showed us now more than ever that we are completely vulnerable as a species. Companies who promote the environment and implement socially responsible practices will clearly benefit from a better, more human brand.
But it’s not just about perception outside the business. Since joining Radix, I could also see how important our social stance is to our own team – and how people can be motivated by being part of a company that tries to make a positive difference. If anything, that’s even more important because you can’t fake it.
5. A little more conversation
This is the first time I’ve dealt with a podcast, and I can already see it’s a great marketing tool. You don’t need a fancy recording studio; just Zoom or a smartphone, something interesting to say and someone interesting to talk to.
It takes those niche B2B conversations on Twitter and turns them into interesting, downloadable recordings for people to listen to as and when. For us, the podcast has been invaluable in reaching our audience this year.
(And here’s a secret tip: it also gives us a perfect excuse to start conversations with smart people we’d like to meet.)
6. Show don’t tell
Quietly letting the content do the talking; that’s how we like to reach our perfect client.
But we also need those thoughts to reach them where they are. So we aim to get our content published on third-party platforms and publications, and write guest blogs for B2B institutions, as well as speaking at events and running workshops.
7. Good feedback is the best marketing
Getting good client feedback is THE most satisfying barometer of measuring success. There’s nothing we like more than when we’ve made a marketer look good, and we can all congratulate the colleague who did the work.
But it doesn’t just feel great; it’s a vital step in our own marketing. Even if we can’t always create a full case study, testimonials from our best clients are extremely powerful in persuading other, similar marketers that we can help them too.
8. All for one and one for all
Working from home can make us all a bit isolated at times. So, as a newbie, having the whole team cheerleading behind our marketing endeavours feels really good. And it demonstrates to clients that our whole team is committed to the cause.
Our team write the marketing blogs, often co-host the podcast, and get involved in conversations on social media. They are our brand ambassadors. It shows our personality and it’s essential to growth… as well as being a great help to me.
9. Personas non grata
We’re not satisfied with concentrating on the vague personas we want to target. Instead, we are laser-focused on finding real-life people in real jobs of the companies we want to work with.
This year, we’ve tried to make content that speaks to the right person, in the right job, in the right company, in the right format at the right time and the right frequency. That’s a lot to get right. But that’s our mission, and we choose to accept it.
The idea is not necessarily that we’ll attract that avatar marketer, but that we might reach someone like them. And it works, too. We’ve had a brilliant crop of new clients this year, many of them closely aligned to our checklist of what an ideal client would look like (yes, we have one of those).
10. What you measure is what you get
Like everyone, we watch the data to understand which content performs for us, and do more of what works. But because we have a very niche B2B tech service, we have to think carefully about what that measurement looks like.
That starts by aligning our marketing KPIs to our company’s business plan. For example, we’ve been deliberately growing our international business, so website sessions from outside the UK are a key indicator for us.
And we know our success depends on our reputation among B2B marketers, and that they tend to group in industry networks, so we look for the content that brings us the most social and referral traffic.
Prioritising those metrics means we automatically double down on the content that helps us achieve our broader business goals.
A momentous first year
2020 was a disrupted year on a biblical scale, and it’s one I won’t ever forget.
That disruption made the B2B marketing world adapt quickly to new technologies, strategies and ways of working. And I had to adapt too – and learn some lessons I’ll find helpful as we venture into the unknown territory of 2021.
So from the cat and me, home alone in my Christmas jumper, have a wonderful break. And a cheerful and positive new year.