B2B Content: Gift Boxes or Life Vests?

by | Mar 1, 2022

A few Thanksgivings ago, my family traveled for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation spanning both coasts of Australia. We flew to Perth first as supremely delighted passengers of Emirates Air. Our return to the States from Sydney came on a U.S. domestic airline that shall remain nameless.

Upon boarding our first Emirates flight, a flight attendant quickly came to our row with something in hand. She extended a small box to my wife and me. “For your son,” she said sweetly. We handed the parcel to our jubilant 2-year old, who tore into it with typical zealous toddler abandon. It contained a stuffed fuzzy green monster, snacks, a blanket, and other goodies to entertain our little guy.

Fast forward two weeks. As we took our seats for the Sydney-to-Los Angeles leg of our journey home, a flight attendant quickly came to our row. He, too, bore a delivery. He extended a small plastic package to us while stating, “For your son.”

Smart. Practical. There if we needed it. But expected (I’d hope they have life vests as a given).

Both airlines tried to give us a sense of comfort and safety. There was certainly utility in both offerings. But there was an obvious difference.

I think that pretty much sums up marketing’s all-too-typical content problem.

Through our content, customers engage with and experience our brands, products, and services, often long before and long after they purchase. Unfortunately, and too often, content is more like the life vest than the gift box. In fact, it might be more apt to describe too much content marketing as DIScontent marketing.

“Nearly a third of B2B decision makers rate the overall quality of the thought leadership they consume as mediocre to very poor.”

There is such an abundance of content out there, and it’s growing exponentially. So much volume, so much chatter — and, unfortunately, so much sameness. A sea of assets that are too often focused on hard selling products or “boosting SEO” instead of addressing the issues that really keep buyers up at night.

And, from a B2B perspective, buyers are indeed discontent. According to Edelman-Linkedin research, nearly a third of B2B decision makers rate the overall quality of the thought leadership they consume as “mediocre to very poor.” Ouch. Yet, the same study reveals that thought leadership can be effective in influencing purchase decisions – and that decision makers are willing to pay a premium to work with an organization that produces great content over competitors that don’t.

Content experience is customer experience – throughout and beyond the funnel. And, as it’s commonly held that the majority of the modern buyer journey happens digitally, without you.

So, as you look at your marketing content, ask yourself what you’re giving customers and prospects: useful and delightful gift boxes or just something to hold onto if the plane goes down?

Michael Ruby

President, Chief Creative Officer

Named the 2021 Best in Biz Creative Executive of the Year and part of the 2018 DMN 40under40, Michael is the President and Chief Creative Officer of Park & Battery. In his role, he is the company’s head of global brand strategy, creative and content. Michael’s work has been recognized by The One Show, Webby Awards, Global ACE Awards, B2 Awards, Content Marketing Awards, numerous awards from The Drum, and his favorite: “Best use of the word ‘boo-yah’ in a b-to-b ad ever,” according to Ad Age.

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