Every B2B should hire a writer. I’ve been saying this for almost 10 years. Throughout that time, precious few B2Bs have done so. Today, B2Bs that fail to build an internal writing team fall into one of two categories:
- Some B2Bs fail to see that virtually all marketing involves writing. Marketing is communication. To outsource or ignore writing, a foundational element of marketing, is a recipe for mediocre marketing.
- Marketing-savvy B2Bs think content marketing has peaked, thanks to articles like this and this. Think again. Some B2B segments, like mine, Internet marketing, are indeed overstuffed with content. But other B2B segments — most, in fact — still operate in an environment where demand for useful content exceeds supply.
Why do I stress useful? Because there is an enormous gap between the type of marketing content B2Bs typically produce and that which B2B content consumers need. Among the common shortcomings of B2B content:
- Inwardly focused instead of customer focused
- Feature oriented instead of benefit oriented
- Overly detailed
- Not detailed enough
- Uninspiring, confusing and overly formal in style
Why is this the case?
When B2Bs outsource content, it lacks authenticity and insight.
When B2Bs give writing assignments to a non-writer on staff — someone with spare time, a subject matter expert or an executive — the content lacks coherence and persuasiveness.
Thus, to create effective marketing content — content that is authentic, insightful, coherent and persuasive — a B2B must have a professional writer on staff. This conclusion is inescapable.
This is not to say that the internal writer must carry the entire content burden. Agencies can still play a very large role, especially in developing a content strategy, along with editing, optimizing, polishing, placing and promoting content. But if a B2B thinks it can take a hands-off approach to content, it will fail more certainly than ever before.
Why? Because today, the pressure to produce authentic, meaningful content is greater than ever before. With every passing week, Google gets better at distinguishing intrinsically valuable content from content that is designed to game the system. It’s not just about keywords anymore.
No less important is the fact that B2B content consumers have become more sophisticated. They have learned to filter out content crap. The novelty of blogs has worn off. They look for reasons to unsubscribe from rather than subscribe to e-newsletters. The days are gone when content will get read simply because it’s there.
But — perhaps paradoxically — at the same time B2B content consumers (think customers and prospects) are more discriminating in their consumption, they are relying more and more on the Internet to conduct research and do business. Nobody wants to talk to a sales rep until it’s absolutely necessary. Nobody wants to phone in an order when it can be entered online. Thus, lousy online content equates to fewer leads and fewer orders.
For many B2Bs, an increasingly online-centric sales environment is a tough pill to swallow. Companies that are used to generating and managing business with a traditional field or phone sales team have little experience or expertise in creating online marketing content. And online content is more than just typing words. Search engine optimization and usability techniques weigh heavily in content effectiveness, which again is why a professional writer versed in these techniques is essential to getting the job done properly.
Ready to Go?
Interested in learning how to hire and train writers? Click here for several tips.