Why your B2B content marketing should ‘Start With Why’

Simon Sinek TED Talk and B2B content marketing

You’ve all seen the Simon Sinek TED Talk, ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’, so I won’t embed it here (18-minute pause for all deadbeats to scurry over and watch it. We’ll wait.).

The premise is simple, people don’t buy what you do, they buy into why you do it.

Sinek points out that great leaders are effective because they expose their beliefs — and that great brands do this too. Once we’ve bought into a brand’s beliefs – their whys – we’re more than half way to buying their products.

  • We feel better about buying Apple products because we know how obsessive they are about the way people interact with technology.
  • We feel an affinity with Nike when they champion the ‘just do it’ approach to life. They believe in health and exercise and empowerment and… um… sweat and stuff.
  • We leaned in towards Salesforce.com when they evangelised a ‘No Software’ world view. They were on a mission to change the world of IT. That’s way more attractive than being on a mission to double CRM revenues quarter-on-quarter.

The talk made a big impression on us here at Velocityplex III: The VeloDome (actually just our offices). And ever since, we’ve been digging down into what our clients believe as a source of great content.

We also started to notice that some of our favourite content marketing (B2B or otherwise) is so compelling because it simply celebrates the beliefs and values of the company.

And often that’s the only thing it does, putting aside any kind of selling message at all (even top-of-funnel ‘issues’ stuff) to just celebrate something the company really cares about.

To hard-nosed, ‘always be closing’ revenue junkies, this approach may look hopelessly, infuriatingly tree-huggy. But that’s because they’re short-sighted vulgarians who have calculated the ROI of their own parents.

In truth, this softest of soft sells is actually a faster way to revenue.

Just as pepperoni pizza is ‘part of a healthy diet’, a values-led piece plays an important role in your overall content program. No, it won’t drive unsuspecting prospects all the way from a state of innocence to a peak of rabid, frothing demand (what piece will?) — but it can do some important things:

  • Let the right prospects know that you’re ‘their kind of people’
  • Get them to relax their Marketing Defense Systems a bit
  • Make an emotional impact to add energy to all your rational arguments
  • Earn shares – people share things that mean something to them
  • Remind everyone in the company why you do what you do

Those are some pretty good things for your content to do, don’t you think?

Some examples of B2B content marketing that starts with ‘why’

There are plenty of examples of consumer marketing that starts with ‘why’. Everything from Chipotle’s excellent Farmed and Dangerous series to Dove’s powerful Real Beauty campaign to the Adidas Dream Big films.

Maybe that’s because consumer marketers know the importance of brand (sometimes, to be honest, brand is all they’ve got).

But B2B content that’s all about values and beliefs is a lot less common. Here are four examples, the first I saw for the first time last week and the other three were produced by Velocity. I’d love to collect more examples and maybe do a talk about this, so if you’ve got any you know about, do share.

Unsung Heroes of Science by DSM

This mini-documentary and content microsite (written by Damon Crane, a friend of Velocity) celebrates the power of science to make our lives better.

It’s presented by Royal DSM, a global company ‘active in health, nutrition and materials’, but it never mentions DSM at all. In fact, I don’t think the three teams profiled are even connected to DSM:

The film has been viewed over 4 million times (1.2 million on YouTube) – an astonishing number for a B2B company most of us have never heard about.

50 Posters that Rocked Our World

We did this long web page on the power of posters for the graphic communications business at Xerox. It says nothing about Xerox products or services; it just celebrates some of the things Xerox loves: printing, visual communications and the art of the poster.

A xerox b2b content marketing example

The target audience – commercial printers – love print too. That’s what makes this one of the most shared pieces in the Xerox portfolio.

I Work For Them

Sprint Business believes that what makes great businesses great isn’t technology — it’s engaged people. So we made this video to celebrate that belief and to tap into the gratitude that senior managers have for their amazing people (you might notice some Velocitoids on the photo wall):

This was a brave thing for Sprint to produce — but we feel it adds an important element to the brand: a heart to the story and a ‘why’ that motivates all the new services and the other great content the business is putting out.

Here’s to the Stubborn

Sorry for sharing another Xerox (and Velocity) piece but this one is a perfect example of what we’re talking about. It’s a slideshare called Here’s to the Stubborn: A Celebration of People Who Change Things Through Sheer, Bull-headed Persistence and it’s all about values and determination and integrity and people who make things happen:

This one hit the right note for people across a lot of different Xerox markets (healthcare, transportation, customer service…). So we’re following it up with a series of blog posts about other stubborn heroes, like Chester Carlson, the amazingly determined guy who invented Xerography and (coming up) a trio of determined people who invented a low-cost way to make prosthetic limbs — and gave it away as an open source invention.

The power of why.

These pieces are all different, but they all come from a similar place: the values and beliefs of the companies behind them. The things that answer the question, Why do you do what you do?”. We think more businesses should ask this question — and share the answer with their customers and prospects.

So what does your company believe?

Why do you do what you do?

And what would your content look like if you tapped into that?

Any examples of great B2B content that comes from ‘why’, would be very welcome. Just drop a link in the comments below.

Comments

Great article. Part of my business is helping dental and aesthetic clinics discover their why to help them connect with their ideal patient and ultimately grow their business. This article has enhanced my own learning so thank you! I’m going to read over another few times to digest it better! Thank you

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