Recently I read an article called Content Marketing – Johnson & Johnson style. This article does an amazing job of dissecting some companies that are engaging in non-branded content marketing that supports their core business (mostly through internal advertising), namely Johnson & Johnson, American Express, AOL, the USPS, and GE.
This article flies in the face of people who say “My industry/niche is boring; how can I create linkworthy content?” To this I often think:
Boring content is only created by boring people. No industry is boring – only people are boring.
To combat this, I use a practice that I like to call B2C Linkbuilding for B2B Verticals. (By the way, I also just taught the course on this over on MarketingProfs (affiliate link, use code DISTILLEDVIP to get $200 off)). The premise behind it is simple, but not directly obvious.
In practice, it’s just good marketing, and it all starts from selling the benefits, not the features, of your product by shutting up about yourself in your marketing. We go through the process of:
* Who is your customer?
* What does your customer DO with your product?
* What areas of life does your product touch?
* Can you create resources or products around that so that they appeal to a broader audience?
* Where’s the hook? Free is always a hook, but hooks can be emotional, altruistic, and more
Who’s Your Customer?
As we all know, everything in marketing starts here. Who is going to buy what you are producing/selling, and where are they online? What are they doing, talking about, how old are they, what gender, etc?
Luckily we have a few ways to find this. In order to create the correct personas of your customer, here are the tools that I have used to start figuring them out:
Keyword Level Demographics
Last fall, I took Mike King’s Keyword Level Demographics and implemented it on a client site, a startup that had a relatively small number of organic visitors at the time. Over time though, we have collected data on them that shows the age ranges:
Then I take this data and mash it against the Facebook Insights data (if you’re a business, you should be using Facebook not only for the user engagement, but also for this valuable data), which can corroborate your findings through GA (or can stand alone if needed):
It is important to note that these professionals (the purchasers of your B2B clients) are not going to be the ones linking to you. But what are they trying to solve? What are they using your product for? And what would an average consumer care about? If you’re selling mass quantities of paint, your buyers are paint stores, but who are their clients? Home owners. Business owners. Artists.
Now we go figure out what these people are doing in relation to your product, and where your product touches life.
What does your product DO, and what do your customers do with it?
Now we get away from the features, and think about the benefits of the product. What areas of life does your product TOUCH?
Products exist to solve a problem. Deodorant exists to solve smelly armpits, glasses exist to solve clumsy problems because of bad eyesight, bicycles exist to solve the problem of getting from A to B faster than walking, screwdrivers exist so that your house doesn’t fall down. What problem is your product solving, and why do people buy it/care about it?
For example, if I was 3M and needed to sell more adhesive, I’d go out and get the MythBusters to test the limits of 3m adhesive. Is it strong enough to let a helicopter pick up a semi? That’s shock and awe (and would be cool), but what about holding a priceless family photo on a wall? I’ll leave you to think creatively, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t make any of these videos.
I’d do something like Old Spice’s commercials. Hilarious. Practical. Edgy.
Where’s the hook?
This is another obvious step, but since we’re potentially building out a new product here, we need to think about WHY people are going to care. The typical hooks are:
* Practical (the hardest)
If you can make people care about the why (it’ll keep your bike safe, your children will call you more, etc), then you’re onto a hook. FREE is always a hook, and if done right you are (and appear) altruistic, but it isn’t always the best hook.
Take, for example, Mophie, who sell battery packs for smartphones. Battery life is of the essence in places like New York City, but this is their landing page for their product:
If they are primarily selling B2B, such as to cell phone stores, this might work. But if they want to get links to this page, are those companies going to link to them? No. What would they link to? Maybe a video showing how it keeps you charged up when on the go. This is what Duracell did in collaboration with JayZ (coolness hook + practical):
The Goal: Links and Branding
The goal of all of this, of course, is links and branding. Where is your product living on your site, and who are you letting know about it? The key always comes with outreach.
Recently I read this article about launchbait over on Linkbuildr. It is talking about launching a new product or line, which is exactly what we’re doing here. We’re launching a new product, using the consumer-centric (not necessarily customer-centric) angle, and possibly leveraging viral marketing product launch strategies to get the word out and attract new links.
The Main Advantage of B2C Linkbuilding
There are many advantages of this approach to linkbuilding, the largest being that linkbuilding becomes a heck of a lot easier. Linkbuilding is hard when you have a very commercial product, and it’s near impossible to get bloggers, let alone non-profits, government sites, and .edu sites, to link to your commercial product.
A client of mine, who had been buying a ton of links in the past, recently did this and they now have links from Bicycle.com, Ospreypacks.com (the backpack makers), numerous police stations and non-profits (like MADD and the Red Cross), and to a very commercial site! They’ve done outreach and the links have come rolling in. Win!
B2B linkbuilding is hard. So why are you going to grind it out and buy links that will get you hit hard, when you can instead create cool new products that may even turn into new revenue streams? Free products don’t have to stay free. B2B companies don’t have to stay just B2B companies.
Anything less is lacking vision. Get out there.