Why B2B Companies are Entering the Editorial Space [& What You Can Learn From Them]
What do HubSpot, Mailchimp, and Wistia have in common? They’re all B2B companies with high-traffic, lead-generating media engines that support their products.
Wondering why so many companies are entering the editorial space? Industry experts cover that and more below.
1. The B2B marketing industry is shifting.
Marketing SVP at HubSpot Kieran Flanagan says the B2B marketing industry has gone through four major phases in the last decade.
What started as a focus on decision-makers has now evolved into a community-led approach that leverages media and publishing.
[image of b2b marketing evolution]
Many brands follow a product-led growth approach, in which the product itself attracts consumers and drives retention.
Any Atluru, former head of community at Clubhouse, says that this works great for utility-based products that have already been validated socially or don’t require a network of users to thrive. Think Slack and Calendly.
She highlights that a community-led model may be more conducive to brands whose products aren’t particularly unique and gain value through community. Think Peloton and Figma.
In this case, entering the editorial space will be a key part of your success.
Media & Community-Led
The next stage is B2B companies become a destination for their audience. Media (text, video, and audio) & developing an ongoing relationship through a community.
It will be a hard moat to disrupt.
— Kieran Flanagan 🤘 (@searchbrat) March 24, 2021
2. The ad space is oversaturated.
On an episode of Marketing Against the Grain, CEO and co-founder of Notus, Yuliya Bel argues that ads no longer have the impact they used to.
“Like anything in marketing, there comes a point where it becomes saturated. Where people start to be like ‘Ok, we’ve seen this before, it’s no longer authentic or really speaking to us,’” she said.
She references an eBay study that revealed that brand search ad effectiveness was overestimated by over 4,000%.
With the incredibly high costs of running ads and rampant competition, this begs the question: Is the focus on ads for customer acquisition and engagement the best play?
She argues that investing in producing high-quality content and distribution tactics is the only way to ensure longevity in the online space.
Think about it this way: You could invest $100K into an advertising campaign but once it ends, so does your lead generation. Instead, you could invest that money into building a content team that will produce evergreen content that will bring in leads long after they’re published.
3. You meet your audience where they’re at.
Every brand wants to attract its audience organically.
While social media is the most popular way to achieve this – and the strategy that offers the quickest response – building a media engine is by far the most reliable and most sustainable.
Why? The first is that it removes the reliance on third-party applications to reach your audience. If you’re solely relying on TikTok and Facebook, what happens if they are down for a few days? Or consumers lose interest and transition to a new app?
You’ll constantly be adjusting your strategy based on the platform and trying to hit a moving target.
When you build your own engine, your audience comes to you.
But, you can compete as a publisher.
You can create things that help educate and inform your audience.
Sure, not all of them will buy your product or service, but all of them will remember that you helped them in some way.
— Kieran Flanagan 🤘 (@searchbrat) February 4, 2021
The second reason is that you’re able to attract several personas using varying mediums.
For instance, those who listen to your podcast may have different needs and challenges from those who read your blog posts.
When you’re in the editorial space, you can tailor your content to each user type and where they are in the buyer’s journey. Whereas on social media, you’re throwing out content and hoping that it reaches the audience that will resonate with it the most.
The issue is that the editorial space is a long-term play whereas social media is a quicker turnaround. When building a media arm, you won’t see results overnight – it can take months to years to see the impact of your work so for many businesses, the wait can seem like a waste of time.
However, in the long run, attracting your audience organically through thoughtful content will be the most cost-effective and sustainable method for audience growth.
4. You establish yourself as an industry thought leader.
One of the best ways to stand out in the B2B space is to become a thought leader, a brand others go to for guidance on trends, innovative strategies, and more.
HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
“There are a lot of technology industries where the pace of being able to innovate and create technologies is actually very fast,” he said on the Marketing Against the Grain podcast, “so, you need content and storytelling to differentiate.”
For HubSpot, media has been integral to our success – with our blog being a common first point of contact for many of our leads. Now, we’ve expanded to podcasts, videos, and newsletters.
Flanagan believes it’s crucial when growing your B2B brand.
“The most underrated skill in B2B tech in the future is editorial taste,” he says.
This refers to the ability to know what will resonate with your audience and how to execute it.
Once you’ve gained your audience’s attention and added value to their lives, they will trust the products you recommend to them – even if it’s your own. That’s reason enough for any company to enter the editorial space.