Need Content? 20 Formats to Consider

Need Content? 20 Formats to Consider
Michele Linn - Wed Aug 26, 2009 @ 09:03AM
Comments: 104

ContentContent makes the world go round, doesn't it? B2B marketers know they need content, but sometimes it can daunting to decide what to produce. To make your job a bit easier, I've compiled a list of 20 types of content to consider. This can be a good list when you need to brainstorm new content, and it's also a reference to use when you are trying to think of things to include in your content marketing and lead nurturing programs. I'm sure you've thought of and used many of these, and not all of these content types will work for every situation, but hopefully you'll pick up a few new ideas.

White Papers
We write about white papers a lot on Savvy B2B Marketing because they are pieces that have a lot of power if written well - and they are very much requested by the IT audience (and others). In the recent TechTarget Media Consumption Report, white papers were the most widely used online content type that IT professesionals used to evaluate new technology.

I'm a big fan of eBooks. They're still relatively new to the B2B marketing scene, and they're a fun alternative to the white paper. For inspiration, check out some of our favorite eBooks. And, if you want to create your own, I highly recommend Jonathan Kranz's eBook on creating eBooks.

Workbooks and Toolkits
Workbooks and toolkits are similar in nature to the eBook, but they walk readers through a process and often include things such as forms and checklists. They are typically pretty "meaty" and have a lot of appeal.

Research reports
You can share research via white papers and eBooks, but I call this out specifically because it is a bit different. In my previous life as a marketing manager, I used to hire firms to do research, and my results were great: prospects love research, and the finding can be a gold mine for marketing. My only caveat: consumers are wary of research, so make sure your sample and the way your survey is conducted is statistically meaningful.

Buying guides
Buying guides are subset of white papers but they specifically walk prospects through various things to look for when choosing a solution (of course, your competitive advantages are subtly highlighted). These are a great tool for later in the buying cycle.

Case studies
Customer testimonials are some of the most powerful types of content around, and there are a lot of ways to present this information. In a future post, I'll provide some specific examples.

Checklists and action plans
Another way to present your content is through checklists and action plans. It's one thing to read how to do something, but it is a nice touch to provide your reader with a handy checklist that walks them through specific next steps. Also great for the audience who doesn't love to read.

Is your industry fraught with a bunch of terms that may be unfamiliar to someone who is beginning to seek out a solution? If so, your prospect may appreciate a cheat sheet of common terms.

Q&A and FAQs
Are there common questions or objections that your sales team frequently encounters? Consider pulling those together and providing them as a reference to prospects. Ideally, you'll have different questions based on the audience and point in the buying cycle.

If you are trying to get your name out there, consider writing an article that you can pitch to a trade pub, an online newsletter or any of a number of other places. Also think about the articles that you and your colleagues have written when you are looking for content to include in lead nurturing programs and on your website.

Blog posts
Never underestimate the power of a blog post. If your company has a blog, point people to specific, relevant posts as part of the follow up or lead nurturing process. I do this all the time with my clients, and it works great.

If you have a newsletter that is relevant to your audience, you can ask them to opt in, or you can point them to the archives. Like blog posts and articles, if there was a specific topic discussed in a previous issue that is especially relevant to a certain type of prospect in a certain point of the buying cycle, consider pointing them to that.

Do you have an audience that doesn't love to read and would shy away from anything text-heavy, such as an eBook or white paper? Try a slideshow. Slideshare is one popular site where you can post PowerPoint slides that people can easily flip through. For one example, check out this presentation by ClickInsights: Tips on how B2B marketers should do Content Marketing.

Along the same lines as a slideshow, you can also create a webcast. Live events are great lead generators, and the recorded versions can have a long shelf life. Consider repurposing content from a white paper, eBook or presentation at a trade show or another event.

Of course, podcasts are another popular way to share content. One great format is to interview experts in your field who are of interest to your audience.

Videos are very popular as well and should be a consideration in most content marketing plans.

Interactive applications
Online applications are more involved, but if you have the resources, these are great option. If you want to see some examples, HubSpot has some "grader" tools that are fun way to drive people to their site.

Microsites are web pages that include information about specific things. They likely include a lot of the info included here, and they are a great content source to point prospects to.

Knowledge base
Do you have a place on your website where you store support info and answer common questions? If you are providing content to people to help them select vendors, this could be a powerful source of info.

Not surprisingly, prospects love to see how something works, which makes demos another great piece of content to offer later in the buying cycle.

What other types of content do you use in your B2B marketing efforts?

Related articles:

Read more Savvy B2B posts from Michele.

Comments: 104


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