B-to-B: Rocking the Content Marketing Hootenanny


Companies offering business-to-business products and services can suffer from image problems. If modern digital content marketing was a party (and many hold that it is), you’d be forgiven for expecting to find the B2Bers standing awkwardly in the hallway, subjecting guests to monologues about how the buffet could have been more efficiently organised.

Expectations deceive. Not only have 93% of B2Bers attended the content marketing party; lots of them are starting to play guitar in the corner or crank up the karaoke machine. They’ve changed their tune because their target audience can choose who to party with and who to gracefully avoid.

Over-saturation with marketing messages has led many of us to cynicism. This has been traditionally a feature of millennials and generation Xers but as we approach 2015, even baby-boomers are starting to demand more. They’re now able to be picky and while they might stereotypically present a sober image in business, they still crave entertainment and value like everyone else. In response, B2B content marketing has stepped up.

The traditional soap-boxes are getting crowded. For B2B companies, whose offerings are often of the necessary-but-dull variety, large scale exposure through the big publishers can only come from a story or event that’s truly newsworthy. In the world of ‘boring-to-boring’, this stuff is like gold dust.

B2B content marketers have had to find other ways of getting noticed. Now, smart businesses don’t ‘push’ advertising so much as they ‘pull’ their audience. Yes, this can be hard work, but it has rewards all its own.


Contain Your Enthusiasm

If you’ve ever driven on a motorway or seen a train, you should be familiar with the name “Maersk” - that vaguely danish sounding brand name stamped onto shipping containers. Aside from this nordic allure, let’s face it: shipping containers themselves do not inspire poetry. They inspire snores.

Maersk have 1,130,919 likes on Facebook and counting. Mearsk have landed a helicopter on the roof of the party and are drenching guests with moderately priced champagne. But how?

We’ve all seen ’em. We’ve all not given a hoot.

As it turns out, shipping containers are of great interest. Not because of what they are, but because of where they travel, what they contain and how they’re hilariously misused. Mearsk only had to take a step back to recognize the wealth of untold stories right under their noses.

By zooming out, away from the specific product and service, Maersk opened the doors to a wealth of social engagement.

Who wouldn’t want their industrial machinery shipped in this?

A Maersk seaman went overboard in June 2012 and spent 10 hours in the Atlantic before rescue. Facebook fodder methinks.

Maersk’s superior engagement with its audience has paid off in other ways. Huge ‘faceless’ entities often get little sympathy when something goes wrong. When the Maersk Norwich conspicuously struck a Right Whale in June 2012, Maersk’s honest and upfront handling of the situation on Facebook likely did much to diffuse anger in response to this sad yet occasionally probable event.

Ok, so Mearsk, while ostensibly boring, ended up having a lot to play with. What if your business is supposedly so boring that even a bus-spotter or stamp collector would snigger?

Come on, live a little

SunGard offer ‘availability services’ and this, once you find out what it means, is unlikely to quicken the pulse. Back in 2012 they pioneered this zombie apocalypse cloud hybrid inforgraphic. While this sort of thing has now been done to death, back in 2012 it was innovative, particularly for B2B. Their download rates increased by 300%.

How can I go from Boring-to-Breathtaking?

Themes common to all humanity attract and entertain audiences. If you’re struggling for ideas, consider whether these 3 pillars of the human experience can manifest themselves in your B2B.


Explode the myth of B2B seriousness with a silly rebranding like big ass fans. Careful though - it works for ceiling fans but not for auditing firm Ernst & Young. The trick here may be to re-brand with substance - rather than trying to be hip.

Danger & The Extreme

Industrial companies can have a field day here. Structural Ceramic Composites may not be interesting to most, but the fact that they can handle temperatures of 1000*C may be the seed of something eyebrow raising.


The Ladder Association decided to use ridicule to create social exposure - a low move, but likes is likes.


The Possibilities are Endless

B2B content marketing partygoers - this could be you.

If that’s what you want.


2 thoughts on “B-to-B: Rocking the Content Marketing Hootenanny

  1. A brilliant post and an enjoyable read, it shows that whatever the size and industry type there is an angle to connect, it shows managing the corporate brand can be done in the digital world in a way that is not dull. It shows how to be responsible and innovative - great post and a must read.

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