Insights to enhance your B2B healthcare sales and marketing efforts.

4 Steps to Create a B2B Content Marketing Strategy and Plan

Most organizations we partner with want a robust library of content they can leverage for marketing, sales, and communications. They’re looking to for relevant blogs, a snappy newsletter, and a few solid lead magnets (perhaps a set of whitepapers, workbooks, or guides). Beyond that, they want an arsenal of success stories to share, speaking opportunities at industry events, features in industry publications, and a more established presence on LinkedIn. These are all results of an effective content marketing strategy and plan.

However, executing on a content strategy and plan is often disrupted by more immediate demands on resources. Organizations move content marketing to the bottom of the to-do list and are left with either a non-existent, outdated, or thrown-together smattering of content pieces that don’t directly tie to their current growth plan or their audience.

The reality is—it does take time and focus to build a valuable content library—but investing in the content marketing process is a worthy endeavor. The best place to start is not with ad-hoc content ideas, but rather with a strategy rooted in your organization’s growth goals, key offerings, and unique expertise.

Getting Started with your B2B Content Marketing Strategy and Plan

The most effective content is packed with actionable insights based on real-world experience. It should ring true to your audience. In our business-to-business healthcare space, that means content written by experts in your organizations and ghostwriters who truly “get” the inside baseball of the space. Without that, the content falls flat.

Ensuring your content speaks to your ideal audience and generates leads takes some planning. It requires thoughtful reflection on your business goals.

We’ve broken down the process of building a business-to-business content strategy into 4 basic steps:

  • Document your Goals: Define your business goals, offerings, and target audience
  • Define your Themes: Reflect on your unique areas of expertise and problems you solve
  • Create your Production Plan Structure: Consider resources, channels, sales campaign plans,  and publishing frequency.
  • Fill in your Plan: Brainstorm and plug-in topics to your defined strategy and production plan.

Tip: Before you invest in content marketing, ensure your company has a solid visual identity, brand voice, and digital presence. As you develop more content and promote it, it is most effective if your company’s website and brand is cohesive and consistent with the focus and quality of your content strategy. This means having clear brand guidelines and a website that reflects those brand guidelines. If your organization does not have these things, stop here and focus on establishing these first.

How to Build your Content Strategy

Once you have a solid brand foundation, it is time to strategize how to promote that brand through content. Below is a deeper dive into our 4-step content strategy planning process. Taking time to walk through these steps will help you build a focused content strategy that optimizes your content production resources and grows your business.

Define your Business Goals, Offerings, and Target Audience(s)

Organizations often create content at random to support specific campaigns. Creating a proactive strategy based on what your company does best makes your efforts more effective.

Reflect on the following questions:

  • Why did you start your business?
  • What is your mission and vision?

Reconnect with those big questions first. Your content should support your desired brand reputation.

Next, consider:

  • What are your primary products and/or services?
  • How is your approach unique from your competition?
  • Who is your ideal client?

Finally, list out your top 3 business goals for the year. Are you looking to attract new opportunities in a certain geographic area, specialty, or hospital size? Challenge yourself to generate topics that are relevant to that specific segment. Are you encouraging existing clients to expand to new services? Start writing about the benefits of some of your newest offerings.

When you define the areas of your business you want to grow and your ideal client, you have your target audiences(s) to guide your content strategy.

Tip: Document your services lines/offerings, growth focus, and the target audience segments you plan to target with your content this year.

Reflect on your unique areas of expertise and unique problems you solve

After you have your goals and your audience segments, the next step is to define the content themes that support those goals and speak to those audiences. Every piece of content your organization produces should tie back to these themes. A great way to narrow in on content themes is to reflect on:

  1. What problems do you solve for your ideal client?
  2. What are the main benefits of your services?
  3. What do you know a lot about?
  4. Which process (or processes) does/do your organization help streamline?
  5. Which market trends do your company help address?
  6. What are your top competitors writing about?
  7. What are the most common questions your prospects ask you?

The answers to these questions will help you define your content themes.

Tip: Choose 2-4 content themes based on your answers to the above questions. These themes should be broad and built to contain multiple different content topics within the theme. For example, one of your themes could be “cybersecurity” or “documentation” and many more specific content topics could fit within that theme.   

Create your production plan 

Before you start writing, clearly define your strategy. This should include your goals, target audience, and content themes. All content you produce should tie back to that strategy.

Now that you have a defined strategy, it’s time to plan content production. Consider where your content will live, and cater your content to that format. Meet your client base where they typically spend their time: if the decision-makers in your industry are active on LinkedIn, then make sure you’re publishing on LinkedIn regularly. If they live in Outlook, then it might be worth sharing your work in email campaigns.

When you’ve identified your most valuable channels, you can decide how often you want to publish in each channel and start proactively producing content to support that plan. 

We suggest making a production plan for two paths:

1.     Anchor Pieces: Create an initial library of anchor pieces that support each stage of your sales funnel and/or the sales campaigns you have planned for the year. (Think things like webinars, case studies, white papers, and guides). Consider these stages of the sales funnel when planning your anchor pieces and aim to have a piece for each stage for each of your main service offerings as a starting point:   

Build content resources that work well to support each stage of your buyer’s journey

  • Awareness (e.g. A blog post on common industry topics)
  • Interest (e.g. A downloadable guide that helps them understand a process you optimize)
  • Decision (e.g. A case study that helps them see third-party proof of our past success helping a client like them)

2.     Ongoing Content: In addition to anchor pieces, we suggest an ongoing content plan through which you regularly rotate through creating content for all of your content themes and target audiences (Think blog posts, newsletters, and LinkedIn posts).

Tip: Create a spreadsheet with two tabs, one for anchor pieces, and one for ongoing content. This will be your production plan. Below are examples of what those tabs would contain.

Example plan for your “anchor pieces” – create pieces for each of your primary solutions and audiences for each stage of their buying journey.

After you have your anchor pieces, build an ongoing content plan that supports your content themes, key audiences, and service lines.

Fill in your Plan 

When you’re ready to start plugging in specific content topics into your content plan, there are a few ways you can spark ideas. Reflect on the themes and audiences you’ve defined and consider where they intersect with your business goals. Some effective thought starters include:

  • What are your company leaders most interested in or experts on?
  • What to your ideal clients appreciate about your services most? What processes or problems do you help streamline that you could offer insight on?
  • Browse the most popular publications in your industry to keep tabs on current trends in your market. Create Google Alerts for industry terms to get a digest of the latest news on these topics delivered to your inbox for content inspiration.
  • Keep a running list of customer and prospect questions – these are great candidates for blog and LinkedIn posts.
  • Reflect on your success stories. When you achieve results you’re proud of, interview your client or the team members involved and write up an educational piece on how your expertise benefited your client.

Tip: Start populating the spreadsheet you created in step 3 with ideas generated from this exercise. Keep in mind that you can adapt the same topic for multiple purposes to extend its value—perhaps it can be a blog post, a downloadable piece, and condensed into a few LinkedIn posts within your plan.   

Make Content Work for Your Organization

This step-by-step approach makes the challenge of building a content strategy more approachable. If you follow these steps, you’re on a path to produce content that resonates with your audience and establishes your organization as a go-to thought leader in your space. As you keep up with your content efforts, prospects will increasingly think of you when they have a need for a solution like yours. By focusing your approach, every content piece you invest time into directly ties to your business goals, making it much more likely to engage viable prospects.

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