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Be honest. When was the last time you were excited about doing it? How long has it been since you showcased all your tricks and, ahem, tools? Just between friends, can you remember the kind of reactions you used to provoke, compared to now? I mean… leftover meatloaf gets a heartier response.

If this sounds like your current content marketing situation, don’t take it to heart. B2B lead generation is tough. Creating a steady flow of helpful, engaging content is particularly tough. Sometimes lackluster performance is just a seasonal thing. (It is summer, after all. You’re probably reading this while packing a cooler full of Bud Light Lime-a-Ritas.)

On the other hand, a lot of B2B marketers are fighting against bigger forces— e.g. the content slump Gartner research highlighted earlier this year. Evidently, all disruptive ideas go through a standardhype cycle. Somewhere between jumping on the content bandwagon and experiencing reliable output, brands like yours get suspended in a slow zone called the “Trough of Disillusionment.”  I’m not kidding. Someone (J.R. Tolkien maybe?) actually named it that.

But you don’t have to languish in this trough indefinitely. There is hope. Garner says so. Joe Pulizzi says soWe say so

Emerging on the other side will take moxie, determination, a departure from mainstream content marketing, and experimentation with B2B lead generation techniques you maybe haven’t tried yet. So crack open a Lime-a-Rita and listen up. You’ve got work to do…

1. Host a Legit Fun Event

Don’t be so quick to hate on events. Yes, events require higher upfront costs than other tactics, but they’re crazy effective in B2B lead generation—especially when paired with content creation before, during, and afterwards. And keep in mind: events don’t have to involve fancy venues and catering. At PMG we just hosted an interactive webcast to help manufacturing companies with content marketing. With a bit of blogging and social promotion, we’ve already got two dozen primo leads.

If you feel like event-related content is the poor, sad runt of your editorial calendar, maybe the nature of your events is to blame. Instead of the same old presentation routine, try for something more interactive. Bring in fun speakers or entertainment. (Have you heard of pop-up performances? Why not organize one for your attendees?) Give cool stuff away (stuff that lends to visual content and super sharable brand mentions). Even something as “boring” as insurance comes to life when @JakeStateFarm t-shirt swag is up for grabs.

2. Create and Publish a Survey

Surveys are great because they generate content that is truly unique.  Instead of curating information that someone else discovered/assembled (which, admittedly, is what I’m doing right now), you can be a primary source, putting forth original data. And because it’s yours, more people will link to your survey results page, and give you social media mentions when they decide to quote your findings.

Still, surveys aren’t as easy as they look on Family Feud. You need to craft specific, unbiased questions; design and publish your survey; amass a statistically relevant sample size… If you’re game, HubSpot wrote the book on using online surveys in marketing.

Not too long ago, one of our clients got their survey results picked up by a major trade magazine. The coverage (from a publication known for attracting target prospects, no less) yielded 29 new contacts and multiple high-authority backlinks. Well done, indeed.

3. Offer a Quiz

If you had to guess, what would you say was the number-one, most viewed piece of content published by the New York Times in 2013? One of the stories covering the Boston Marathon bombings? Angelina Jolie’s op-ed? Nope. It was a quiz (How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk), inviting readers to see their personal dialect map.

Kind of crazy, right?

Evidently, now that we’re past eight grade, quizzes are magnetic—even in the context of a B2B vendor search. Consider this example from Unitrends, a data backup and disaster recovery company. Unitrends developed a BDR Superhero personality quiz that generated 5,100 new leads and contributed $1.5M in new sales pipeline in three months. Boom.

Best of all, you don’t need a million-dollar marketing budget to roll out a quiz. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to create a custom quiz for your prospects. And here’s a sample lineup of brands using quizzes in their content marketing.

4. Lighten Up Your Tone

Tone is an issue for many B2B companies—especially for those who sell “personalized” service and “real-world” solutions, only to sport an About Us page that reads like 19th century tax legislation. If being personable and friendly (in an otherwise stodgy field) is your differentiator, make some copy changes to really own that claim.

For example, some pretty serious companies are using Balsamiq software, and yet their company page is modeled after a corner bistro. They really do sound like friendly people!

That doesn’t mean you have to get cute and snarky just for snarkiness’ sake. Revising web copy can kill two birds with one stone—improving your online “storefront” and improving lead quality. Something I’ve been wanting to do?  Draft landing page copy that acknowledges how often visitors enter fake names on form fields. (Yes, HubSpot forms can filter out pure SPAM submissions, but not random aliases and abandoned email addresses.) Maybe something like:

We know you want this download. And we know you’re tempted to enter a fake name in order to get it. If you insist on representing yourself as The Queen of England, at least give us a current email address? That way, when we have more helpful resources to share, we can get them to your Majesty as quickly as possible.

What’s new and exciting in your B2B content marketing plans? Anything we can help with?

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About the Author

Liz O'Neill
Liz O'Neill

Content marketing specialist (and current Director of Marketing at C&S Insurance), Liz O'Neill enjoys writing informative, engaging copy about pretty much anything—helping companies and their customers cut through all the digital noise; find each other faster; form deep, abiding relationships; and ride off into the sunset (while Instagramming the entire journey).

 Tags: B2B Marketing Content Marketing

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