How to Kick-Start Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy

Developing a B2B content marketing strategy that aligns content messaging with your target audience is no small task. In fact, 88% of B2B marketers currently use content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy, yet only 32% have a content marketing strategy.

The development of a fundamentally customer-focused marketing strategy will blaze a trail for a B2B content marketing strategy to reach new customer engagement and acquisition goals. By ensuring value is delivered to your customers, the B2B content marketing strategy will fall into place.

Here are a few key tenets of B2B content marketing strategy to kick start the process for you and your team:

1. Determining your content point of view. Here’s a hint: Make it customer-focused.

2. Ensure once you start executing on content creation, you can measure your efforts. Another hint: Make sure it’s driving a tangible business outcome as well.

3. Align your team’s talents with the type of content being created. Last hint: Not all marketers think the same way.

Customer-Focused Point of View for Content Pays Off

Content marketing strategies developed to engage customers with your brand start by aligning content with the point of view of your reader. Delivering information both that the customer sees as valuable and that aligns with your brand should be the underpinnings of every B2B content marketing strategy.

In a recent study from Forrester Research, they provided the example of Kraft Foods launching a site (kraftrecipes.com) to share recipes and food ideas using their products. By shaping purchase decisions, encouraging buyers through the journey through value-driven content, Kraft Foods had buyers that were all-the-more inclined to purchase cream cheese for “that casserole recipe I saw online”. They delivered value to customers by encouraging a purchase decision as opposed to pushing a coupon.

With a customer-focused point of view regardless of the buyer type (B2C and B2B buyers), position your content to deliver value to your customers. Similarly, through customer-centered content, you can actively shape purchase decisions through a B2B content marketing strategy that drives leads which, in turn, fuels revenue.

Prioritize and Set Content Goals

In a recent survey of content marketing maturity, Forrester found that 52% of B2B marketers were in the early stages of assembling a content strategy and executing it. While B2B marketers seem to be embarking on a more customer-focused approach to content development, a key tenet to a closed loop model for your B2B content marketing strategy is tracking buyer interactions with content at each stage in the purchase life cycle.

Providing buyers with content that is useful and valuable to read, watch, or interact that encourages forward movement in the buying cycle is a B2B marketer’s dream. And yet if those interactions are not measurable, how do you know your content strategy and supporting tactics are effective?

To kick start your B2B content marketing strategy that produces customer-focused content, ensure your team is taking a practical approach to content creation aligned with short-term goals. Meeting and rewarding these short term goals will push your team to drive increasingly buyer-aligned content. This will inevitably result in customer interactions that contribute to increased revenue. These longer-term objectives ensure content drives tangible business outcomes.

Align Talent with Content Creation

Balance your team to align strengths with content creation requirements. Buyer-aligned content that captivates, inspires and challenges is a different focus for most B2B marketers. Marketers whose background include a mix of product marketing, sales positions and even direct marketing may be challenged to make this shift.

Climbing to new heights requires planning and preparation but it also mandates physical and mental stamina. Applying that principle to strategy development versus plan rollout and execution, B2B marketers need to consider skill assessment and training as a critical tenet of B2B content marketing strategy. When the team is ready to hit the trail, talent needs to be aligned with a type of content creation that sees through the buyer’s point of view, interweaves a compelling story and is appropriate to the content application.

So, begin with your team to consider what content will deliver value to your customers. With this customer-focused lens, a B2B content marketing strategy will achieve the following:

  • Address buyer concerns to engage
  • Motivate them through the buyer journey
  • Build support from bottom-line-thinking executives.

Case Study: From Red to Black, Generate Double-Digit Sales Increases Through Strategic Marketing

Conventional wisdom states that when times are bad and sales are down, management should cut all expenses except sales and marketing. And when things get really bad, management must cut everything but sales because selling is the fastest way to increase revenues.

This business-to-business case study illustrates how, if executed properly, strategic marketing can sometimes be a quicker, more efficient and more effective way to grow sales.

The Situation

A manufacturing firm’s brand enjoyed high name recognition, and the longstanding business had survived and often thrived through multiple business cycles during its storied history. A competent management team had been assembled and was balancing operational needs with cash-flow requirements.

However, sales of the manufacturer’s primary division were declining and the market for its products was in a severe depression. The lack of volume meant the company was not covering its overhead. Escalating energy and raw material costs were eroding profit margins.

Product and Distribution Channels

Market perceptions of its products were mixed. The company had a strong reputation as a manufacturer of “green” building products, but it was not well regarded for solving end-user problems. The firm was not in a position to compete on price.

Although the company’s products were esteemed by specifiers and designers for being sustainable and other specific performance attributes, many end-users were put off by the high cost of the products, and sometimes found these products to be difficult to work with and of questionable quality.

Low sales volume and slow inventory turns decreased the company’s value to channel members and kept new distributors from taking on the line. To cut costs, existing distributors reduced their inventories of the company’s products, and dropped slower-moving niche items manufactured by the firm entirely.

In response, management hired a full-service marketing firm and undertook a full-blown marketing and advertising campaign. The marketing message trumpeted the environmental friendliness of the firm’s products but failed to communicate their other performance values.

Choosing Strategic Priorities

Rather than simply initiating a typical marketing campaign, the company needed to find:

· A high-volume application…

· In which it could be cost-competitive…

· In which it had a different story to tell…

· In an expanding market, enabling growth without having to take market share…

· And reestablish its value to distributors.

Internal Assessment

The company’s primary product is a fiber board used for various purposes by construction trades. Reducing sound transmission in buildings appeared to be the company’s best opportunity to generate volume. Multi-family projects that required sound reduction could require multiple truckloads of product. The firm already marketed this application but was not emphasizing it.

The company’s sound-reduction product performed well and was cost-competitive in flooring applications. It was installed very differently than the products dominating the market. Competing products were sold directly to specialty contractors, bypassing traditional distributors and contractors.

The housing market had collapsed with no recovery in sight. The lack of money for down payments, overly strict mortgage requirements, and fear of declining home values crippled demand.

Still, people needed places to live. Apartment construction, while also down, remained viable, and increased demand was forecast for the foreseeable future. Demographic changes predicted surging demand for student housing and assisted living. Changing consumer tastes were boosting the desire for urban living. The Federal government’s spending on affordable housing, often in the form of apartments, was increasing in an effort spur economic growth.

Executing the Strategy

A volume application had been identified that met the company’s strategic imperatives. The marketing group now needed to focus all its resources on implementing the initiative as quickly and inexpensively as possible against larger, better-capitalized competitors that dominated the market. Every problem perceived by customers that could hold back sales needed to be solved.

How

The marketing team implemented a wide array of tactics to support the new strategy:

Brought It Inside. To reduce cost, the firm terminated its engagement with the full-service outside marketing agency and brought marketing in-house, with assistance from independent professionals.

Aligned the Messaging. The marketing team developed a compelling tag line aligned with the new strategy. The message was simple and specific, yet universal to the company’s other product lines.

Developed Aligned Materials. The team conveyed its solution and addressed all known obstacles through new marketing tools in a wide variety of mediums, including video, website, packaging, sales aides, installation graphics, product sheets, trade show booths and more.

Accessed All Available Channels. The team tapped all available cost-effective channels to disseminate the message, including the company website, YouTube and industry related third-party websites.

Quality Improvements. The marketing team communicated quality improvements needed to increase market acceptance to operations. The Operations Department innovated and made improvements. Third-party testing labs were engaged to refute end-user performance concerns and induce confidence.

Bottom Line

The shift in marketing strategy contributed significantly to turning around declining revenues into consecutive year-over-year sales increases of 20% and beyond. Identifying and targeting an expanding market segment supported this growth in sales. Increased market share remained a goal but was not required for significant recurring revenue increases.

Companies that follow conventional wisdom run the risk of leaving core problems undiagnosed and fail to turn sales around. The strategic marketing process avoids this pitfall. Strategic marketing effectively gives the sales force an improved product to sell and a better market to sell it into, thereby propelling increased sales at a rapid rate.

The company could not have sold its way out of declining revenues without first changing its go-to-market strategies. It needed to find a market opportunity that met its strategic imperatives and provided a focus point for success. Compelling marketing messages provided efficient market penetration in a way that selling by individuals or teams could not.

If done innovatively, with an eye on costs, strategic marketing can be the fastest way to spur sales growth.

Case Study: How to Significantly Cut Drawdowns Using Market Internals

In 2014, I spent about 6 months in a row with this unique traders tool called Market Internals, exploring its possibilities every single day, searching for new and creative implementation ideas for my own automated trading systems (ATSs). With a real obsession with this concept, I finally found almost 40 new ideas (mostly my own proprietary ideas) on how to squeeze the most out of this great tool, and slowly started implementing many of them into my own trading – with great success.

I truly believe that Market Internals can give a trader a small, unfair advantage – if thoroughly thought out and implemented well, especially in new, creative ways. Therefore, in this article, I would like to give you a very brief introduction into the Market Internals world, together with an example of one of my private Market Internals filters – to show you, how dramatic the impact of Market Internals deployment can be – in a favorable way.

Introduction: What are Market Internals (MI)

We all know how hard it is to find a new, viable trading edge. We are also aware that the scope of our possibilities is quite narrow: It doesn’t really matter what trading indicators or other tools of technical analysis we use – most of the time they all use the same source of data anyway. This data consists of Open, High, Low and Close values of the bars in our trading chart, and whatever trading indicator we use, we basically use only a slightly different interpretation of the same O-H-L-C values.

So, if we really want to go a step further and implement a broader view for our trading decisions (trading entry/exit conditions), we have to start investigating outside of the O-H-L-C values. We can, for example, implement information like Volume or Open Interest to our trading entry/exit conditions, which is not a bad idea at all, and many of my ATSs use O-H-L-C values together with Volume effectively.

However, we can still go a step further.

We can do something that many traders have no idea they can even do: We can start making our trading (entry/exit) decisions based not only on the data coming from the underlying market but also on taking into consideration the market (its overall direction, quality, strength and overall “mood”) as a whole!

Just imagine:

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to know where the stock market as a whole is heading, before we enter a position in our emini S&P strategy?

And that is exactly what Market Internals are about: The ability to read the market as a whole and effectively incorporate this much broader view into our trading decisions.

Market Internals: A quick introduction

So what exactly are Market Internals? Where do they come from?

It’s very simple: Market Internals are information about the overall stock market, provided by the stock exchanges (NYSE, AMEX), usually in the form of a standalone data feed.

And this data feed instantly provides us with real-time information about the overall stock market situation.

Using Market Internals we can immediately, in real-time, start receiving information like, for example:

  • How many stocks from the Dow Jones Index have just moved up and how many down?
  • Is the volume of all rising stocks from the Dow Jones index higher or lower than the volume of all falling ones?

Or even:

  • How do ALL stocks move in the entire NYSE? Are most of them rising or falling?
  • How many stocks have a price that hasn’t changed?
  • What is the direction of the majority of the volume? Up or down?
  • Do the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones index correspond with the rest of the market, or does the Dow Jones index now live its own life?

As you can see, there is plenty of information that can be obtained through this standalone data feed about the stock market as a whole (and later on, to be used in our strategies).

All this information can be split into several different categories, and every category has its own meaning and preferred method of implementation. However, because the space for this article is very limited, and the subject of Market Internals could give more than a dozen articles like this, I am going to focus only on one Market Internals category, one of my most favorite, the MI pair UVOL-DVOL.

Market Internals: UVOL-DVOL

This category of MI simply consists of two separate data feeds provided from the exchange:

$UVOL monitors the total volume of all rising stocks on the exchange.

$DVOL monitors the total volume of all falling stocks on the exchange.

By using these data feeds (often called MI indicators), we can monitor the volume on one side or the other, so we can get a better idea where the volume is moving to, i.e. which side is stronger. This is, of course, a very powerful view on the market that can provide us lots of important information (if we know how to use it).

From a practical means, we usually add two different data symbols into our chart (data2 and data3) to start using UVOL-DVOL pair for our trading.

Then we can start using these MI indicators as additional, or even leading filters (or as I usually call them – “Super Filters”) for our existing systems – with the goal to improve them significantly.

Let’s have a look at such a condition in practice. I am going to reveal one of my proprietary UVOL-DVOL MI conditions, which I use as a filter for many of my breakout index or stock strategies (MI can only be implemented on indexes or stocks of futures indexes).

UVOL-DVOL as a filter for significant improvement

To demonstrate the effect that Market Internals can have, I have decided to use the most simple condition that I could think of – a primitive breakout condition high=highest(h,N1). I haven’t done any optimization of the N1 parameter, nor have slippage and commission been included in the results shown below – the purpose of this article is not to present a functional breakout trading system but to demonstrate that Market Internals can be applied to even the most basic systems and get immediate, and very often dramatic, improvements. For the N1 parameter, I have used the first number that came to my mind, number 20.

Here is the basic code that I will use to demonstrate the impact of the Market Internals “Super Filter”. The test will be completed on the EMD.D market, 15 minute timeframe, from 3/22/2006 – 3/21/2016:

If high = highest(h,20) then buy this bar at close;

setstoploss(600);

setexitonclose;

Here are the results:

Net Profit: $79,440

Profit factor: 1.17

Avg. Trade: $36.52

Max Drawdown (close to close): $12,650

Net Profit / Max DD: 6.28

Number of trades: 2175

Now let’s move to the implementation of a very simple Market Internals condition that is based on the following rules:

  • Calculate the difference between UVOL and DVOL,
  • Calculate a 30 bar simple moving average of this difference,
  • If the UVOL-DVOL difference is above the moving average of the UVOL-DVOL difference AND high = highest(h,20), a Long position is opened,
  • The position is closed by the end of the day or when the 600 USD stop-loss is hit.

In a moment, I will show you the outcome of the application of this code to the original system. But first, I need to mention that I have used several small add-ons, like for example, taking into consideration the zero line of the UVOL-DVOL difference to cancel the “Super Filter” in certain situations – all of this is included in the code and the workspace that you can download at the end of this article. Yet the basic idea is exactly as I have described it – to work with the UVOL-DVOL difference and with the moving average of this difference.

Let’s take a look at the results after application of the Market Internals “Super filter”. First, the performance report:

Net Profit: $76,000

Profit factor: 1.38

Avg. Trade: $63.81

Max Drawdown (close to close): $7,790

Net Profit / Max DD: 9.76

Number of trades: 1191

And finally, the comparison table showing the results before and after the application of the Market Internals based “Super Filter”.

Metric / Before MI / After MI / Improvement

Net Profit / 79,440 / 76,000 / -4.3%

Profit Factor / 1.17 / 1.38 / +17.9%

Avg. Trade / 36.52 / 63.81 / +74.7%

Max DD (C-to-C) / 12,650 / 7,790 / -36.8%

Net Profit Max DD / 6.28 / 9.76 / +55.4%

Trades / 2175 / 1191 / -45.2%

I believe that the numbers speak for themselves – maximum drawdown has improved by almost 40% (36.8%), Average trade by +74.8%, and the Net Profit to Maximum DD ratio by +55.4%. All really great improvements, and I see similar improvements of Market Internals very often.

Conclusion

I have been using Market Internals for my own trading since 2014.

Here is what I have generally achieved by implementing them into my own trading strategies:

  • Reduce max. Drawdown
  • Improve Avg. Trade
  • Improve Net Profit / Max DD ratio
  • Smoother equity curve
  • Overall improvement of portfolio performance
  • Getting additional psychological confidence by knowing that I only trade in highly favorable market conditions.

I was really surprised that Market Internals are used by so few traders, yet, when I present them the Market Internals possibilities, they usually get quite excited and implement it to their own trading systems with instant positive impact.

This is exactly the reason why I like them and encourage all traders to investigate them further.