If you had to choose one piece of B2B content as your all-time favourite – the one that changed the game, generated a truckload of revenue, or has generally lived rent-free in your head since you saw it – what would you choose?
That’s the challenge we’ve set ourselves to mark our podcast‘s 10th birthday. No less a question than “What is the best piece of B2B content ever?”
Below, you’ll find 19 contenders: the best B2B blogs, podcasts, videos, long-form content, and wildcard entries. Each one has been hand-picked by a panel of expert judges, from a longlist of nominations by our listeners and the wider B2B content community. The winner of each category will go through to the grand final. (Voting has now closed, and we’ll reveal the results on our next podcast.)
Get ready to be inspired.
Category 1: Best B2B Blog Post
Where else could we start? The B2B blog post is such a content marketing workhorse, it was inevitable it’d need a whole category to itself.
B2B blogs have undergone a transformation in recent years – from cheap SEO filler to detailed, strategic content pieces punching well above their weight – and our shortlisted contenders showcase what’s possible.
We’re extremely grateful to Fujitsu’s Andrea Clatworthy and Robyn Collinge of WeTransfer, for helping our Head of Copy Matt and Senior Copywriter George find four favourites among an extremely strong list of nominees.
A) Andy Raskin: The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen
Nominated by Ian Truscott: “This is probably the post I’ve re-read the most. I think it’s a great structure, not just for B2B sales presentations but B2B writing.”
George agrees: “There’s just enough flavour in the intro to Andy’s blog to pull the reader in, but without overstaying its welcome. Then it goes straight into concise, helpful tips on how to stand out in a crowded market. More than guidance on delivering a great sales deck, I think it offers some of the better advice on B2B storytelling I’ve seen in a while, full stop.”
B) Assure Hedge: The Chicken McNugget’s Secret Ingredient is Not What You Think
Voted the best B2B content of 2021 by our podcast listeners, this unexpected story of fast food, farming, and finance was a hit with our panelists.
Andrea says: “Fab, this. Quite long but a great story which I enjoyed reading.”
Robyn agrees: “I bloody love a metaphor to help me understand complex things.”
C) Tom Roach: The Wrong and the Short of it
Nominated by David van Schaick: “It’s not specifically B2B and best ever would be a big claim but for a mental model of marketing it’s useful and durable.”
No need to worry, David; our panel agreed with you that this blog is well worth its place on the shortlist. Andrea says: “Very good indeed. It’s a bit long but I was engrossed so didn’t really notice. Excellent use of references.”
(By the way, if you’re wondering where you’ve heard of Tom Roach before, he’s that genius who used ChatGPT to rule out bland positioning ideas.)
D) Velocity Partners: A stakeholder through the heart.
Nominated as a “long time favorite” by Janine Pares. There was some debate among our judges about whether this even counts as a blog (it may have begun life as one by Doug Kessler, we think?) but ultimately, the quality and sheer brutal honesty won out. This had to make the shortlist.
Andrea says: “Terrific topic. Unsure about the format, to be honest, but it did enable clear emphasis points. It also included practical steps to take.”
Other blogs commended by our panel:
- Beam: How to Write a B2B Blog Intro That Isn’t Boring AF
- Hank Barnes/Gartner: The Tyranny of More
Category 2: Best B2B Podcast
This category was a bit of a surprise, but as soon as we asked for your favourite-ever content, the nominations for podcasts started flooding in. People seem fiercely loyal to their favourite shows (which, after all, is kind of the point).
By and large, the nominees seem to be podcasts about B2B marketing, rather than being produced for B2B marketing purposes, and as such the panel found them a little tricky to separate – with one or two exceptions. We therefore have a shortlist of four, rather than three.
E) Adobe: Audio White Papers for Marketing
OK, let’s get the headline out of the way: Adobe got this narrated by Malcolm freaking McDowell.
It was nominated by Jason Miller, who said: “Adobe’s groundbreaking podcast series is a tour de force in the blending of artistry and business acumen. By transforming traditional white papers into captivating auditory masterpieces, Adobe turns the daily commute into a theatrical learning experience. With McDowell’s enchanting voice, this ingenious fusion of entertainment and insightful data revolutionizes B2B content, providing an engaging and immersive educational journey.”
Irene concurs: “What a great idea to present a white paper as audio content; it really shows empathy with your audience, who are probably time-poor decision makers with who are traveling a lot. So if you want them to consume your content, make it easy for them to do that. But giving them audio content that is read by a well known actor? That is something I haven’t seen before.”
F) …Gasp!: Call to Action
Nominated by fractional CMO Graeme Fraser, this describes itself as “The go-to podcast for anyone trying to make sense of the world of Marketing, Business and beyond.”
Doug says: “Fun, sweary and promoted with a fun voice. Good guest list and they package it as a show, with segments like Quick-Fire Questions and First Ever Job. Easy to navigate with time stamps and each guest’s reading list as an extra.”
G) Help Scout with Jay Acunzo: Against the Grain
This collaboration resulted in a three-part docuseries, telling the stories of values-driven businesses. You can watch, or just listen; your choice.
Doug says: “Jay Acunzo has produced some fantastic podcasts – for clients and for his own business. His own series, Unthinkable, is excellent, but the Help Scout series is maybe more suitable for a B2B content shortlist.”
H) Peep Laja: How to Win
This weekly B2B strategy podcast features founders and business leaders talking about the lessons they’ve learned building successful companies in saturated markets.
Matt says: “It’s my go-to source to hear how successful growth marketers deploy different tactics to grow and improve their business. The format dives deep on the problem either their product had, or the marketing team had – and the solution they came up with. Peep is a charismatic presenter, getting the very best from his guests. Each podcast acts as a small case study in how the best in the business achieved what they have. I always learn something.”
Other podcasts commended by our panel:
- Cactus: Agencyphonics
- Louis Grenier: Everyone Hates Marketers
- Jon Evans: Uncensored CMO
- Matthew Sweezey: The Electronic Propaganda Society
Category 3: Best Long-form B2B Content
As a company completely dedicated to B2B content writing, this category is understandably close to our hearts.
Holding your reader’s attention over an extended piece doesn’t just take great copywriting. It’s also an exercise in planning, outlining, structure, and – frequently – collaboration with designers. But when you get it right, there’s an unmatched opportunity to deliver real, lasting value to your audience. However, as these three examples show, the end result can look very different.
(Spoiler alert: there’s not a single ebook or white paper among the finalists. Go figure…)
Particular thanks to Serendiputus founder Maureen Blandford, and brand-‘n’-content rockstar Jason Miller, for ploughing through so many words to help our Senior Copywriter Katy shortlist the best long-form nominees.
I) ahrefs: The Beginner’s Guide to SEO
Nominated by Matt Laybourn, who says: “An incredibly well-structured guide, taking you through SEO essentials. The experience is flawless, with brilliant UX and social proof, which oozes subject matter authority. I trust this company explicitly – from just one article.”
Katy agrees: “This huge guide could have been overwhelming but, mercifully, it’s not. The writing’s really accessible but without skimping on detail, it’s easy to navigate, and it’s visually clean (with cute icons and useful diagrams). For ahrefs, this format is easy to revisit and update when best practice inevitably changes, and it’s simple for readers to revisit the relevant bits whenever they want a refresher.”
J) maxon motor: Product catalogue
Could anything say “old-school B2B” more clearly than a 546-page electric motor catalogue?
But wait; this weighty document comes with a strategic twist. Before you get near any product specs, there’s an in-depth guide for design engineers, packed with the schematics, graphs, and equations you need to remember if you only specify a motor once in a while. It’s not just a sales document, it’s a reference book – and it’s helped to reposition maxon’s whole brand. Which is why David nominated it for our B2B content hall of fame.
(What is it with companies in this category eschewing capital letters, though?)
Katy says: “David’ll be happy. It’d be very easy for a catalogue (especially one of this obscene size) to be the driest, salesiest document in existence, but it’s not. By positioning it as a ‘selection guide’ and adding heaps of supporting content, the catalogue pulling double duty as a product list and an in-depth exploration of maxon’s expertise. The diagrams are excellent, even though I don’t understand any of them, and they add a bunch of value for the engineers that wrestle with this tome.”
K) Velocity Partners: The search for meaning in B2B marketing
Nominated by MomoHomes’ Jeff Williams, this second entry from the pen (well, keyboard) of Doug Kessler will resonate with any of us who didn’t grow up dreaming of being a B2B marketer. Which, if we’re honest, is all of us.
And, what’s more, it’s a goshdarn Slideshare, so get that clicking finger ready.
Katy says: “An absolute classic. I’ve definitely had this dilemma at various points in my career, and Doug does a great job of reassuring us that it’s a completely normal dilemma to have. His reasons are personal, but they’re also relatable, and tied to good advice for how to make sure your career matters to you. (I believe this was also a pretty novel format when it launched.)”
Other long-form B2B content our panel commended:
- Cognizant: After the Virus
Category 4: Best B2B Video Ad
Can an advert be content? It’s a moot point. When you ask people to cite examples of creativity and emotion in B2B content, videos are often the first things they’ll cite. There’s something about the way a snappy video can illustrate or reframe a workplace reality that just… sticks.
Often, they’ll make us snigger at our own jobs – and who doesn’t need that in their workplace?
L) Adobe Marketing Cloud: Click, Baby, Click
In truth, any number of Adobe videos could have made this shortlist, but ultimately this was the one nominated by Radix’s own Head of Copy, Matt Godfrey, and for good reason.
Matt says: “After 15 years writing about B2B tech, this is still the piece I wish I’d written. A simple value prop, with a serious message for a business leadership audience, but played for laughs with cinematic flair.”
The judges agreed. Kieran adds: “Why do you need analytics? Adobe’s video ad uses an entertainingly exaggerated scenario to make a pretty compelling case. It’s a single, strong idea, executed beautifully, as the action zooms from offices spaces to oceans and forests, before settling into a family’s living room for its final, rug-pull twist. All in sixty seconds flat. It’s just very neat work.”
M) GE: Datalandia – Devamping
(Apologies if you have to sign in for this one; it’s hard to find. Very much worth the effort, though.)
Nominated by Bluefruit Software’s Emily King, this entry may or may not have provoked snort-laughter in the office when we managed to track it down.
Kieran says: “GE wanted to communicate the myriad of use cases made possible by its ‘Industrial Internet’. So, it worked with Mekanism to create a series of fictional stories, set in a fictional town, whose residents use their interconnected machines to see off mega storms, vampires, and other classic blockbuster antagonists. The resulting video ads are slick and playful, but more than anything, they’re a testament to storytelling’s ability to make even the most protean technologies marketable.”
Katie adds: “Quite simple in its format but clever in the way it used the model. I also liked that it told a story and had a clear close.”
Rishi says: “How do you make *checks notes* storing backup magnetic tapes interesting? Why not try some rhymes and a charming animation style? Wit and whimsy are rarely used tools in this world. On this evidence one wonders why.”
Katie agrees: “This engaged me quite a bit as it used real-life examples of things we all do and are guilty of – so had that emotive / connection element. It was also fast paced, and it was funny from the off.”
Kieran adds: “Iron Mountain took the old faithful, ‘here’s a problem you haven’t thought about; here’s the solution you need’ formula, and dressed it up delightfully – with papercraft visuals, whimsical hyperbole, a mildly remonstrative tone. The result is a clear, snappy, persuasive video ad. (Though if I were to give them my backup tapes, and they didn’t protect them with a dragon… well, let’s hope their lawyers are all over the Trade Descriptions Act.)”
O) Volvo Trucks: The Epic Split
You know the one: Jean-Claude Van Damme. Two massive trucks, reversing. Sunrise. Oh, and lots and lots of Enya. It’s the B2B video with 117 million views.
Doug Kessler, who nominated this, wrote a whole blog about it, saying “If anyone EVER says it’s okay for B2B to aim low, show them this ad (then hit them on the head with, maybe a rolled up newspaper or stapler or something).”
Want to watch it again? Of course you do.
Other B2B video content commended by our panel:
- Lenovo: Metal Review
Category 5: Wildcards and Special B2B Content
Some of your nominations didn’t fit neatly into any category – so we created a new one. Some of them are groundbreaking and unusual, others just refuse to be pigeonholed. But all of them show what’s possible when you look beyond established B2B content formats and conventions, and think about what your audience will find useful, interesting, engaging, or just plain fun.
Thanks, Rishi, for helping our Senior Copywriter Steve take a walk on the wild side.
Our Katy’s nomination for the B2B Content Hall of Fame can show you exactly. Because Drawbotics has demonstrated its 3D modelling capabilities by recreating the office environments from your favourite TV shows.
Rishi says: “This is marvellous. What a brilliant way to show off the qualities of the product, while being engaging and entertaining. It’s remembered that key thing at the heart of B2B marketing – we’re all humans too. It all combines into something engaging, funny, and wonderful.”
Q) Gartner: Magic Quadrant
Never one to willingly think inside the box, Harendra Kapur nominated the entire idea of the Gartner Magic Quadrant. It has, he rightly points out, spawned a multimillion-dollar business (and more than a few imitators), pretty much on its own.
Steve agrees: “Gartner’s Magic Quadrants are incredibly simple and clear to understand, which is a huge achievement given the breadth and depth of research that goes into creating them. To provide a clear view of the competitive landscape across some of the most dynamic technology markets in a single chart is a huge achievement. No matter your pedigree in tech (or in market research), you see a Magic Quadrant and you just get it. There’s good reason why they’ve become such a widely cited staple across the B2B tech industry, and beyond.”
R) Hectare Agritech: Tudder
Basically, it’s Tinder for cows. And our podcast listeners saw fit to vote it the best B2B content of 2019. Yes, really.
Rishi says it’s actually well worth its place on our shortlist: “I love the wit here. It’s a very simple idea, but it’s been executed really well and that cross-pollination really does cut through and raises a smile.”
S) Turtl: Kill the PDF (document, protest, and notebook)
Always like to see fun #guerillamarketing especially in the B2B world. Here are @turtl outside the front of #inciteB2B event ‘campaigning’ for the death of the pdf. Not sure pdfs are dead just yet but who knows… @MarketingB2B #turtl #killthepdf pic.twitter.com/RJ70HA7Hhz
— moreish marketing (@moreishmkting) July 9, 2019
When Turtl decided to pick a fight with one of marketing’s most used content formats, they really went all out. Not just a dedicated website, video, and online story book. Oh no. They mounted a whole online hate campaign, and started picketing marketing events.
Possibly the cutest part was publishing a hardback book called “The Complete Guide to PDF Analytics” which is… well, you can guess the punchline.
Voting has now closed!
We’ve tallied up all the votes on a big abacus, and we’ll reveal the results soon.