The year 2020 has presented all of us with unprecedented challenges. We’re facing a global pandemic; the fight for racial justice continues in memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many more; and the election year that remains fraught with tension weeks after Election Day. What’s more, about 25% of American adults say they or someone in their household was laid off. In the face of these monumental shifts, most businesses have had to make big changes too—especially when it comes to how they’re communicating with their audiences. They’ve had to pivot their B2C and B2B content marketing strategies in significant ways, and few would say their new strategy is set in stone.
So while it may not feel like you ever really finished strategizing for 2020, it’s already time to take a look ahead. And one thing’s for sure: we’re uniquely prepared to expect the unexpected in 2021. In the B2B space, your strategy should combine timeless best practices with the lessons learned in 2020. So here are 3 essential tips for designing your B2B content marketing strategy for the year 2021.
1. Expect the Unexpected
The annual content marketing plans you develop are critical. To hit your goals, you must define them, outline the path to achieving them, and follow that path. But what happens when your plans fall through?
Well, that’s a lot like getting used to spending each weekday with your coworkers, and then suddenly pivoting to only seeing them on screen.
Our Killer team at an all-hands virtual meeting earlier this year.
Likewise, marketers faced major changes to their plans for 2020, and they should expect it for 2021 as well. In a CMI survey of B2B content marketers, 70% said the pandemic had a moderate or major impact on their content marketing strategy. And 83% said their organization made quick strategy pivots due to the pandemic.
So start by taking a magnifying glass to your results and analytics from this year’s efforts. From there, you can also prepare a less rigid B2B content marketing plan than past years’ strategies have been. You might even consider building contingency plans, or multiple potential approaches depending on the circumstances, into your 2021 strategy from the beginning.
2. Identify & Acknowledge Your Clients’ Challenges
In difficult times, humans are comforted by validation. So simply telling your customers not to worry, or that things will get better, isn’t that effective. Instead, empathize with them and show you care. Once you’ve done that, the door is open to share ways that your business can help theirs.
Research shows that phrasing is key in interpersonal communication, and the same is true in B2B settings. So when planning your 2021 content marketing strategy, choose subjects that get at the heart of what your clients are experiencing. In addition, include research and insights that show you understand the challenges they’re facing. This will foster relevant content that builds trust.
3. Take an Introspective Approach in Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy
In 2020, organizations were scrambling to navigate budgets and a business landscape that seemed to be changing daily. This meant they needed to focus on execution, and often didn’t have time to pull back to evaluate their overall brand.
But as we settle into the “new normal” of pandemic life for at least a little while longer, 2021 can be the time to make truly strategic decisions about your brand’s relevance and staying power. It’s also a strong time to seek insights about how your customers feel about your brand. Material recently released a new ebook with thoughts from industry experts in analytics, insights, brand strategy, and more. It includes thoughts on this introspective approach for 2021.
In 2020, we didn’t know what we didn’t know, or what we needed to know. But in 2021, B2B content marketers can be prepared — perhaps more than ever before — to navigate unusual landscapes and adapt their strategies accordingly.