Year-end reviews and future predictions have always made me cringe. Most of them are slightly plagiarized and sourced from the same two or three good ones. I tried to avoid that here. The thoughts below are based on actual conversations I’ve had with my peers, and real-world business decisions I’ve made or planned for. Let’s take a look at how B2B content marketing will change in 2021 (according to one person).
Key Takeaway: B2B brands will start speaking B2C.
Curation and Distribution > Creation
Content creation alone is no longer a competitive advantage. In order to grow a successful content marketing program in the future, 2021 should be the year of curation and distribution. For curation, how can you make sure the content your audience interacts with is relevant for their personal interests? For distribution, how can you make sure the content you are creating reaches the right potential customers? Creation is a commodity. The true accelerant is defining who sees what and when.
The startup I am most excited about in 2021, Fathom, is solving this problem. I recently listened to their CEO speak at a G2 webinar, and he dropped a true gem. That was, [in regard to B2B marketing] “We all speak B2C.” I’m not speaking for Fathom, but I get the sense they are going to become the Spotify/YouTube/Netflix of B2B content. That’s what I mean when I say curation and distribution.
Data = Everything
This is such an important and massive topic – it could be a textbook instead of a blog section. For that reason, I am going to list the high-level components of this point.
· Data Storytelling: Translating Research Data into Industry Leadership Content
· Growth Analytics: Using Your Company’s Audience Data to Market with Precision
· Agency Analytics: Same As Above – You’ll See More Data Analysts at Agencies
· Strategic Insights: Executing Diverse Research to Inform Innovation and Messaging
Alliance Content Marketing
Alliances, where two independent organizations collaborate for a mutual benefit, are gaining traction in the content marketing and paid media worlds. This is different from a contractual partnership between companies. Alliance Content Marketing will be the casual collaboration of like-minded organizations to drive their independent business objectives. This may be past 2021, but I think you will see more variations of the job title “Alliance Marketing Manager.”
Internal Personal Brands > Corporate Brands
Personal branding is nothing new. But, what if corporations start to invest in their employees’ personal brands. Of course, many companies are flirting with this by creating c-level personal brands. I think this evolves, though. A tactical example of how this will evolve in 2021 is well-connected, expert employees starting text and/or email newsletters. If you run a B2B IT consulting company, what if your Help Desk Director had a niche newsletter focused on her specific areas of expertise and interests? That’s making a B2B company “speak” B2C.
Customer Experience and Content Marketing Get Married
I hired a Content Experience Specialist this year without knowing what the actual job description was. It worked out. Companies should already be getting feedback from customers and having genuine conversations. Why not use those conversations as content? From blog posts to video interviews, customer spotlights have to be prioritized in 2021. And, we’re not just talking case studies – think “B2C!” The other part of this point is leveraging content marketing to gain customer experience insights. For example, a company can build a media project around industry trends by conducting qualitative and quantitative research. This company chooses which information to publish as a content piece and gets to keep all of the insights at the same time.
Social Positions Become Standing Topics on the Editorial Calendar
This should not come as a surprise given the events of 2020, but we will continue to see B2B companies take strong social positions. Again, B2B is speaking B2C more and more.
Flip the script on your brand's content marketing in 2021.