Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm.
She is the lead blogger at the PR and marketing blog, Spin Sucks, is co-author of Marketing In the Round, and is co-host of Inside PR, a weekly podcast about communications and social media.
I’m always excited to talk with Gini, because it’s always fun, and always informative. This time around, I reached out to Gini to learn about blog topic ideas for B2B marketing.
B2B vs. B2C
I began our podcast by asking Gini about the difference between business to business marketing and business to consumer marketing when developing your content plan. In general, Gini doesn’t think there is a difference.
She says that she hears from people all the time who claim to have unique businesses. Gini doesn’t think there is such a thing (unless you’re selling to aliens) and stated that if you sell to people, your business is not unique.
I hear this often as well. But whether you’re B2B or B2C- you’re still selling to people. There is a person behind every title.
Gini went on to give more advice, and suggested that businesses figure out their own unique perspective, because that, she says, is what will make the difference.
Gini shared her top four methods for getting great blog topics ideas.
4 Methods to Get Great Content
- Talk with the people in your company who deal with prospects directly. Ask what questions they are getting on a regular basis from prospects. Of course, you’ll hear things like price point, delivery, etc., but dig deeper and you could easily get a list of 20 or 30 questions coming up in sales meetings. And if they’re asking these questions in meetings, they’re also googling them.
- Write down anything that comes through your customer service department, or whoever it is in your company who serves in a customer service role.
- Go to your company’s website and download your F.A.Q.’s. Of course, you’ll need to revise them, but it’s a great place to start. Also, search your internal server for different questions than those currently listed on your F.A.Q. page.
- Scroll through your sent emails and find questions that you are writing long responses to. Look for trends where you can send links instead of a long typed-out response. You’ll be saving time, driving traffic to your site and gaining credibility.
We talked about a suggestion made to me by Marcus Sheridan, that’s similar to Gini’s 4th method. That suggestion was having your sales team BCC your marketing department when they respond to questions from customers. This way, there can be quick and seamless ways for sales to speak to marketing on what they are talking and hearing about in the marketplace in a real-time basis.
Besides these great methods that look internally at your company, I asked how else businesses could get great content ideas.
Content in the Wild
Go to your marketplace- and use what matters and applies to you. Check out trade associations, competitors, and read current newsletters and blogs. Gini herself subscribes to 91 newsletters. They go into a separate folder, as not to clog up her inbox, and she reads them at her leisure. She also uses StoryBase.com, a great tool for writers. “When I need inspiration, I find it in these resources.” she says. She adds that the more you create content, the more it’s on your mind- then the whole world becomes your inspiration.
Gini also stresses the use of personas, or the reliable and realistic representations of your key audience segments for reference. She reminds us to find out who our customer is, and speak to them- and not to try to be all things to all people.
I then asked Gini who the content should “speak” to. Should you target multiple people in an organization, or focus it on the one or two decision makers?
Gini had actually just covered this very topic in a workshop. She said the answer comes from knowing who your customer is. Within companies there are often influencers- they may not be the decision makers, but they will still influence the decision.
Gini mentioned Hubspot as a great example of how to target different audiences. They discovered they have three different buyers- agencies, enterprise organizations, and small business. So, they divide their content that way.
But if you’re not Hubspot, and you don’t have massive resources, what should you do? Let’s say your company can put out one blog a week, that should be enough to move the needle, but that’s about the minimum you can do. How would you prioritize then? Gini suggests prioritizing, based on your resources.
That could mean one topic a week, centering on the decision maker, and broadening your focus and frequency of posts as you grow. She also suggested prioritizing based on the number of times you’re asked a question, and gave an example from her own work: “What’s the difference between marketing and PR?”
When I asked about pricing, and whether or not it should be included on your website, Gini recalled a conversation she once had with Marcus Sheridan. At the time, she didn’t make pricing available online- because each client’s needs were so different. After some encouragement from Marcus, Gini added the minimum pricing for her services to her website.
Gini said adding pricing accomplished two things-
- It got rid of the tire kickers, and
- eliminated those people who just wanted to pick your brain for free.
She talked further about the dilemma service based industries are faced with often. We’re selling our brains for a living, we can’t give it away for free. For Gini, including minimum pricing solved this problem.
Q & A With Gini Dietrich
Q: How much should be written about your company and your product?
A: Gini says that kind of information probably belongs on your website, but not in your content. The exception would be for very technical businesses. And in those cases, you can likely link to white papers, PDF’s, and Youtube videos on your site.
Q: How much of a role should keyword research play in content creation?
A: Gini refers to the way she works as “backwards.” That is, she writes first knowing the content is for humans. Then, she applies the technical piece. Once that’s on paper, the next step is going to Google Adwords Keyword Planner, and writing the title from that. Usually, she starts with content, then headline, subhead, and finally the SEO title (She mentioned to listeners that everything can be done with a Moz premium account, or use free tools from different sources).
Q: Should you rely on an agency you're working with or rely on internal employees? What role should an outside agency play?
A: Gini says it’s collaboration. As a client, include your agency in conversations- like BCCing your agency on those emails we talked about earlier in the podcast.
As an agency, look at what conversations are happening in various social channels. That way you can go back to your client and suggest content based on what questions aren’t being answered within those channels.
Q: To close out our conversation, I asked Gini a tough question, but one that everyone is always looking for an answer to: How long will this B2B content strategy take to work?
A: She reminds us that this takes an investment, and in her experience, it usually takes a year to break even. But if you stick with your strategy, you’ll make money in year two and then will be strongly set up for great things.
Gini recommends using a three-prong approach:
- The first prong is creating awareness and trust,
- the second is building credibility
- the third is lead generation.
Most people, she adds, are only doing great at the awareness piece. People are liking your blog, commenting on it, but you’re not seeing leads or SEO optimization, which leads to credibility. But if you set up your program effectively, you will hit all three prongs.
The best way to learn more about Gini Dietrich is to visit SpinSucks.com
Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communication firm. She also is the founder of the professional development site for PR and marketing pros, Spin Sucks Pro, and co-author of Marketing In the Round.
Gini is the author of the PR and marketing blog, Spin Sucks, which is a 2012 Cision Top 100 Blog, the 2010 and 2011 Readers Choice Blog of the Year, a Top 42 Content Marketing Blog from Junta42, a top 10 social media blog from Social Media Examiner, and an AdAge Power 150 blog. And she is co-host of Inside PR, a weekly podcast about communications, social media, and where they all meet and intersect.
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