In a recent article Michael Krigsman wrote: Content is King, but Context is God. He wrote that context is an emerging new trend that is going to take over content marketing. In his interview with a Hubspot CEO, the CEO pointed out how context is the next step in “refining” content…
Context definitely is God. However, context has always been an integral part of content marketing, no where more so than in B2B marketing.
It’s interesting to have this idea of “context” be presented as somehow new and innovative; indeed, “as the next step in content marketing”. This may hold true for B2C marketers as they begin to realize that individual people have to be receptive to their information. The same idea, however, has been the key to B2B marketing for years. If you don’t get the context right, you will never get your content through to anyone. This is what makes B2B marketing much harder in many ways, you’re not selling coffee (which can largely sell itself), but a service, a relationship. (A short illustration: An IBM sales man once told me that one of the first deals he got back in the 90s was because he remembered that the bank’s CEO went on a ski trip two weeks prior to the his sales pitch. What did he do? He asked about the trip during his pitch. And guess what? Out of 7 other salesmen, he was the one who got the deal. He was able to deliver the right ‘content’ using the context to his advantage.)
But back to modern times. In the social media environment, there has always been an emphasis on B2C marketing. Almost any marketing article I read that tries to help marketers use social media or content marketing is geared for the B2C audience. And I get it.
B2C marketing is easier to see, easier to understand, and easier to explain to students and other marketing professionals (why do so many courses use examples of Apple and Coca Cola? Where is the discussion of their supply chains?) In these discussions the B2B side is constantly underrepresented — especially when the conversations turns to social media. Professional marketers keep talking about the need for "doing social" by engaging customers with quality content. This simple premise, however, has never worked in a B2B setting. While yes, content is king, it does not work on its own unless it is delivered at the right time and at the right place. Therefore without context, B2B marketing does not get very far. Finally, B2C marketers, as evident by articles such as Krigsman’s, are beginning to recognize the same — content is God, and always has been.
The dimension of context has always been part of B2B marketing. That is because when sharing B2B content, people are not sharing it as "consumers" or as themselves; they act as very different types of actors. Videos of cute kittens will not help here. In B2B, the target audience acts as CEOs, IT managers, suppliers, outsourcing vendorsâ€¦Therefore it is necessary to not only create meaningful content, but also deliver it to your audience when they are in the right context. The content must be delivered when they are in the context of work, for example when they are in their CIO capacity, and thus in the mindset to engage meaningfully with content that is asking them to evaluate the quality of their business relationships. This is not to say that the said person has to be physically present at work, but even just checking their work e-mail versus their personal e-mail is saying something about the sort of information they are ready to receive. Content without context has very little effect in the B2B setting - and always has. Marketing teachers take note: examples from the B2B marketing world have much more to teach future marketing professionals than examples from consumer marketing.
Diana Kontsevaia is a content development professional at Intetics Co., a global sourcing company.