Content marketing for B2B has one core purpose: to encourage a sale. In health care B2B, where sales cycles can be 18–24 months or longer, with multiple decision-makers, content marketing is a powerful—but an often underutilized—strategy for creating new opportunities and closing more deals.
A Content Marketing Institute national survey revealed that 91% of B2B brands have a content marketing program, but only 35% can measure ROI from their content efforts. This statistic suggests that most organizations embrace content marketing, but are unclear how to leverage content to drive the sales process.
That’s why in this post I want to share five essential strategies for creating ROI-rich content marketing strategies for health care B2B sales.
Strategy 1: Your content marketing should help your prospective clients to solve smaller, but significant problems.
Think about it. When you are stuck and need a solution, you often go to Google for answers. So do your prospective clients.
ROI-rich content is content that helps your prospective clients to solve problems.
If you think of your content strategy as a staircase, the top step represents their biggest problems: problems they would gladly pay for help solving. Those paid solutions are where your company or organization comes into play. But down at the bottom of the staircase are those smaller but significant problems that your prospective clients wrestle with every day.
Create content that helps your prospects solve those smaller problems. In doing so, you earn relevance, trust, and credibility that ultimately invites a sales conversation.
Strategy 2: Be generous with your insights but in bite-size nuggets.
Like you, I’ve fallen for “click bait” in the past: headlines that promise the moon but after I’ve clicked-through or downloaded the content, I realize I’ve been suckered. The content is too general, too broad, and holds back from truly helping me solve my problems. That’s why everything you create should be of high value. Your company’s integrity and your personal reputation shouldn’t ever be called into question.
At the same time, you want your content to provide “quick wins” for your audience. Our attention spans are at an all-time low, and that’s why most content marketing for B2B benefits from being “bite-sized”: just detailed enough to convey rich insights, but short enough to be consumed—and applied.
There are exceptions to this rule.
For example, one realtor I know publishes for free the complete steps for selling your home by yourself. Literally, he goes step by step in explaining how to sell your home without a realtor. But he knows that most of his prospective home sellers who download the e-book quickly realize the process is much more time-intensive than they would like. So they call him to list their homes!
Decide for yourself and your organization what your “sweet spot” is in sharing insights while avoiding burning out your audience’s attention span.
Strategy 3: Content marketing allows the sales team to approach prospects with “the giving hand.”
High-value content, whether it be blog posts, reports, annual surveys, webcasts or videos, provides the sales team with tools for approaching prospects by adding value. Prospects tend to have a high distrust of salespeople, thanks to past experiences with less-than-stellar salespeople.
That’s why prospects often find it refreshing when salespeople share valuable resources and tools with them. Instead of asking for something, the salespeople come with “the giving hand,” helping to establish rapport, trust, and be seen as advisers. While we love when our content yields an organic search result from a high-value prospect, it’s equally powerful when a salesperson links to a blog post in an email to a prospect and writes, “I thought you might find this post of interest.”
Strategy 4: Great content marketing encourages prospects to feel that the salesperson and company brand “get them.”
Great content provides solutions to problems. The more you know about your prospect’s business life and challenges, the more relevant and problem-solving your content can be. People do business with people they know, like and trust.
Your content marketing is a way to open a door to a meaningful conversation with a prospective client. The more they feel understood, the more open they are likely to be in sharing their biggest challenges with the salesperson. Content helps to open the door to that important conversation.
Strategy 5: The most effective content marketing has a significant point of view that attracts the right prospects and repels the wrong prospects.
In the content marketing world, a common type of blog post is called a “listicle,” which uses a list-like structure to convey the points. (This post is a “listicle.”)
The reality is, most content, including “listicle” posts, are generic: the content could be published by just about any brand or organization. Your content marketing—and the content marketing that is ROI-rich—should have a point of view and perspective that is unique, relevant and engaging.
Having a strong point of view can come from many places: your organization’s brand positioning, your organization’s unique differentiator in the marketplace, or even your organization’s depth of expertise in the topic.
A strong point of view allows your content to go beyond the general, all-purpose insights into something substantial, compelling and memorable. That point of view can serve as a magnet for other like-minded, ideal client prospects and repel those who might not be a good fit for your organization and solutions.
At Hailey Sault, our positioning is “We believe in better.” Our mission is to create a healthier world with our clients. Our culture is purpose-driven.
While we help our clients to achieve results, we achieve these results with a mission-mindset. That’s why our content transcends marketing and also addresses job satisfaction and purpose for being. This is very appealing to our clients and many of our prospective clients. But this positioning might not appeal to other prospective clients who have a different outlook or different criteria for what they want from a branding and strategic marketing firm.
For your content marketing, explore how your organization’s brand, positioning, and point of view can inform your content. This will help you to create richer, more substantial content that is of higher value and of high interest to your audiences.
Reverse-Engineering The Sale With Your Content
Creating ROI-driven content marketing for health care B2B brands is a large but important undertaking. I don’t want to end this post without offering two simple steps to help you have more impact on your content marketing and sales efforts.
Step One: Identify your prospective client’s problems, challenges, stresses, and desired future state.
Most B2B sales happen when the prospect believes that a salesperson, company or solution can help his or her career advancement. That’s why it’s important—before any content ideas are brainstormed—to first appreciate what your prospective client is going through on a daily basis.
That’s why you should ask and answer:
- What are your prospect’s current problems?
- What challenges does your prospect currently face?
- What are the stressors in your prospect’s life?
- What is your prospect’s desired future state? (In other words, what does the prospect really, really want?)
Your product or service may not address/answer or solve all their problems, challenges, stresses. But you are far likelier to create content that resonates with your prospect once you have identified these pain points.
When it comes to your prospect’s desired future state, have a clear sense of what your prospect really, really wants. After all, that’s what they’re really buying when they decide to do business with you.
Step Two: Identify where these problems, challenges, stressors, and desired future state fit within your prospect’s buying journey.
Let’s return to the staircase metaphor I shared at the beginning of this post. Each step of that staircase represents a problem your content marketing can help your prospect to solve. As your prospect ascends the staircase, the problems your content helps to solve get bigger and bigger … until the natural next step is simply to hire your organization to solve your prospect’s biggest problems.
Along the same lines, what problems/challenges/stressors are most top-of-mind for your prospect along the buyer’s journey? Quite often, when a prospect is early in the B2B buying journey, he or she is dealing with more immediate problems: the kind of problems that land at his or her desk each day.
Later in the buyer journey, when the prospect is in the Consideration/Intent stage, he or she is often working with leaders and other stakeholders. These problems/challenges/stressors often involve other people: getting others on the same page, for example, or making the case that the solution the prospect wants (i.e., your company) is the right solution.
By framing your content marketing strategy around solving problems along the buyer journey, your content helps to nurture the sales opportunity.
I hope you found this article helpful. If so, please leave a comment and share with a colleague.