5 B2B Companies Crushing It with Content Marketing

by Marcus Sheridan

b2b_content_marketing

One of the saddest things I deal with as someone who speaks so much on this subject of content marketing comes in the form of this question, sometimes posed after one of my presentations:

“Marcus, I can see how all of this could work in the B2C space, but my company is B2B, so how would this apply to us?”

Honestly, when I hear this question I want to find the nearest wall and start banging my head into over and over again. :-)

The reasons for my frustrations are simple really—the essence of successful content marketing doesn’t change from B2B to B2C. The tenets are the same.

  • Listen to the questions of your clients/customers/etc.
  • Communicate in a way they can clearly understand you.
  • Teach at every opportunity so as to give value and build trust.
  • Be obsessed with seeking ways to help clients solve their problems.

Yep, those 4 qualities are what make greatness in the world of content marketing, something I’ve had the pleasure of personally witnessing many times over the past 4 years as The Sales Lion has evolved from “pool guy” to digital marketing company.

With this article, I decided to highlight some of the B2B companies (all clients we’ve worked with here at The Sales Lion) that have experienced tremendous success through their content marketing efforts, as well as a few reasons why they’ve managed to do such exceptional things within their respective industries. Here goes…

1. Health Catalyst

Business Description: Few companies make me smile like Health Catalyst, a Utah-based company specializing in Healthcare Data Warehousing and Analytics. Despite being a newer (and smaller) fish in a pond with some massive companies (like Oracle and IBM), Health Catalyst has exploded onto the scene and built their brand quickly, much of which is a result of their content marketing efforts.

With an incredible "knowledge center" on their website, Health Catalyst has been an incredible brand and business quickly with the help of content marketing.

With an incredible “knowledge center” on their website, Health Catalyst has been an incredible brand and business quickly with the help of content marketing.

What they did: Can you imagine getting doctors and nurses to actively participate in a company’s content marketing campaign? Well, this is exactly what Health Catalyst did. Also, they flooded the marketplace (hospitals are their clients) with high quality and high quantity amounts of education—informative webinars, eBooks, 3-4 blog articles per week, and even an industry event to further educate the masses about the future of healthcare analytics.

The Results: Although much could be said about their tremendous growth in web traffic, leads and customers—maybe the biggest benefit to Health Catalyst embracing content marketing was the fact they were given 50 million dollars in their most recent round of funding. One of their chief officers said content marketing had a major impact on their ability to create enough industry buzz and awareness for the company to merit such an investment.

Rarely do we hear about the power of content marketing to help start ups with to receive funding, but Health Catalyst has managed to do just that.

Rarely do we hear about the power of content marketing to help start ups with to receive funding, but Health Catalyst has managed to do just that.

2. Block Imaging

Business Description: Anyone that has been a reader of The Sales Lion for long has heard me talk about my friends at Block Imaging many times, a company in Lansing Michigan that sells refurbished medical imaging equipment (like MRI machines) all over the world to a variety of health organizations.

What they did: As with all our clients, Block followed to perfection the “They Ask, You Answer” philosophy of content marketing by addressing as many customer questions as possible on their company blog. By embracing “insourcing” and involving a huge portion of their employees to produce content, Block was able to produce a consistent flow of blog articles and educational videos for months on end.

How has content marketing done the right way impacted Block Imaging? You can see for yourself with this remarkable growth chart.

How has content marketing done the right way impacted Block Imaging? You can see for yourself with this remarkable growth chart.

The Results: Without going into too much detail, Block has literally been able to account for millions in additional sales revenue due to their impressive content marketing efforts.

3. Ongoing Operations

Business Description: A provider of back-up cloud computing services for Credit Unions around the country, Ongoing Operations is located in Northern Virginia and has quickly become a major leader in their space.

What they did: With a visionary CEO in Kirk Drake, Ongoing Operations utilized their existing employees to help create a load of blog content, focusing again on client questions, needs, etc.

Ongoing Operations

Despite such a unique B2B niche, Ongoing Operations understands how important constant education is to their prospects and clients, something they do consistently on their company blog.

The Results: Much has changed for Ongoing Operations since they embraced content marketing almost 2 years ago. Today, they are generating over 10x the web leads and sales they were previously achieving, and have also built themselves as an authority within their space.

4. Segue Technologies

Business Description: A Northern Va. technology company specializing in web app development and  design in the B2B and B2G(business to government) space.

What they did: Few people in the world of business have impressed me as much as Segue’s VP, Ron Novak. As soon as Novak heard the “They Ask, You Answer” philosophy he not only embraced it, but did what was necessary to have his entire company involved as well, with 3-4 educational articles being posted on the blog each week as well as two premium pieces of content (eBooks) that have been exceptional lead generators. (To read much more about what Segue did, read this article.)

In just over a year, Segue has gone from about 3,000 visitors per month to over 40,000 today---a truly remarkable accomplishment that has dramatically impacted the company's bottom line.

In just over a year, Segue has gone from about 3,000 visitors per month to over 40,000 today—a truly remarkable accomplishment that has dramatically impacted the company’s bottom line.

The Results: As you can see from the chart, Segue’s growth has been exceptional. Not only has their traffic exploded from what it previously was, but the web is quickly becoming their best lead generation tool for the business, something that was clearly not the case before.

5. AqualCal

Business Description: A manufacturer of swimming pool heat pump and salt chlorine generators, AquaCal has dealers all over the world.

What they did: Starting with a content marketing workshop to get their employees on the same page, AquaCal turned their website into an information machine with respect to swimming pool heat pumps. Furthermore, they hired a content marketing manager so as to ensure they would have a constant feed of new content, be it text or video, going into the system.

AquaCal's blog is rich with quality content answering consumer and dealer questions, as well as eBooks which serve as major lead generators for the company's database.

AquaCal’s blog is rich with quality content answering consumer and dealer questions, as well as eBooks which serve as major lead generators for the company’s database.

The Results: AquaCal’s website has exploded. In just over a year, their traffic has increased by 300% compared to the previous year. A website that wasn’t generating leads before is literally producing dozens upon dozens of qualified leads per week—some of which are new potential dealers and others that are end users of the product (consumers). This has allowed Aquacal to supply a flow of leads to their dealer base unlike anything thye were able to do before, as well as built a significant database to continue to nurture going forward. Additional revenue, in just over a year, is literally in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Your Turn

I could have listed quite a few more B2B companies doing exceptional things with content marketing, but hopefully you’re seeing just how much impact this can have for those that don’t put themselves in a silly corner that says “But we’re a B2B, how does this apply?”

Also, I want to reiterate the fact that our strategy here at The Sales Lion with these clients is the same as our strategy with the B2C clients we have. The simple focus is listening, communicating, teaching, and helping–qualities that have been around forever and will certainly be here when we’re all gone, as they are as “human” as it gets.

I’d love to hear about your examples of B2B companies doing it right with content marketing. What made them so effective? And if you have further questions about how this might be applied to your business, don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts below in the comments section or contact us directly.

 

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruth Zive April 28, 2014 at 10:20 am

Hi Marcus,

I work almost exclusively with B2B clients. And I agree – content marketing certainly packs the same punch in the B2B space.

But there are differences. Sales cycles tend to be longer. Product/service benefits can be harder to articulate. It can be much more challenging to secure client testimonials/reviews/case studies. Purchasing decisions are much more complex.

These are just a few of the differences between B2B and B2C content marketing, but I think that it’s important for a strategy to address them.

Reply

Chris Marr April 28, 2014 at 11:25 am

Hey Ruth,

I agree with you on this point – most B2B sales cycles tend to be longer.

I 100% believe that the challenges you have mentioned are the exact reasons why content marketing is well suited to, and should be embraced by, the B2B space.

For example, longer sales cycles, complex buying decisions, difficulty articulating benefits, and challenges showcasing client work all build a very compelling case for more relevant and useful content for B2B businesses.

It makes complete sense that content marketing should be embraced by any B2B business.

Chris.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan May 1, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Hey Ruth, I hear what you’re saying, but for each of those “issues” you mentioned, I’ve seen the same in certain B2B markets. Heck, swimming pools are often a 12-24 month buying decision. :-)

Ultimately, little details may change, but the game remains the same, at least in my opinion.

But yeah, the strategy will always change…adjust…etc.

Good seeing you Ruth, hope all is well on your end :)

Marcus

Reply

Jan Orsula April 28, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Hello Marcus, great samples.. Just like you I wrote today’s blogpost about content marketing.

I would say content marketing is future of internet marketing and all online businesses..

Those who don’t understand this should change their mind quickly..

Jan

Reply

Marcus Sheridan May 1, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Yep, it’s the future—at least the essence of what content marketing truly is is the future—great listening, teaching, and helping online. Yep, that’s always going to be around, long after the rest is gone. :)

Thanks for stopping by Jan,

Marcus

Reply

Eugene April 28, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Hey Marcus,

These are great examples. But I noticed that a few of these sites were still using homepage sliders, which you recently posted was a big “no” in terms of design and conversions. Is this because they found that sliders helped their site, or did their particular type of sliders (with text and a call to action, and actual people from their companies) work better than regular images?

-Eugene

Reply

Marcus Sheridan May 1, 2014 at 1:11 pm

One of the companies, Health Catalyst, is more of a “start up” style. So announcing things like “50 million in funding” is actually good in their case, and they use the slider to make it happen. That being said, I don’t control the homepage design for many of my clients, as we often are more involved w the content strategy…(although I love design!!)

Thanks for asking Eugene!

Marcus

Reply

Outbound April 29, 2014 at 4:34 am

Hi Marcus,

Honestly, after I read your article, I want to find the nearest wall and start banging my head just once. It’s sick :) This is the greatest article I read today. Really inspiring me. Nice post

Reply

Marcus Sheridan May 1, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Hahahaha, well said! ;-)

Reply

John Schuller April 29, 2014 at 11:54 am

Thanks Marcus. These are great examples of how content marketing works! One of our clients, a world renowned healthcare institution, has experienced incredible results with double digit increases in all of their key performance metrics (FB likes, shares, comments, Twitter, LI, along with page views, unique visits, and dwell time on page) since they started optimizing their content with our Content Scoring Engine. The point is, producing content is one thing, but making sure it’s a hit with your audience is big too! Looks like these companies are doing a fantastic job!!

Reply

Marcus Sheridan May 1, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Well said John :)

Reply

Sagar May 2, 2014 at 5:27 am

I without a doubt accept that the things you have said are the precise reasons why content marketing is appropriate to, and ought to be grasped by, the B2b space. At last, little points of interest may change, however the diversion continues as before. It is dependably the strategy which changes in manner.

It is clear that content marketing is future of web marketing and all online businesses

It is a great post and inspiring one .

Thank you for sharing.

Reply

Akunna Onyedum August 26, 2014 at 8:27 pm

My company is just stepping up to content marketing. We started with a website renovation. The new website will be ready in a few weeks. We are a firm in Nigeria and are distributors of various brands of water pumps for every application. What kind of steps are we to take to ensure an effective content strategy? Should we focus our content plan on brand-building for each product or should it be directed at the company as a whole?

Reply

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