Panel events: Are you creating an echo chamber of views?

Many years ago, I chaired a roundtable on the future of business parks.

A business park developer, an agent who leased business park space, an architect who designed business parks, and a business park tenant took part in the discussion.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

There was lots of excited conversation about what the business park of the future would look like, what facilities it would have and how it would be used.

The occupier wasn’t joining in, so I asked what they thought of the suggestions. What they said stopped everyone in their tracks.

Why?

The tenant – the business that may or may not lease space in the future – didn’t want most of what was suggested.

Instead, they reeled off a list of what they did want from a business park.

I used to regularly chair panel discussions for the magazine I worked for.

Curve ball panellist

They were great generators of content and brand awareness but what made them really fly was when there was a ‘curve ball’ panellist.

There would be a range of people on the panel representing different sides of property development. However, the best discussions were when there was someone whose experience was different from the rest of the panellists.

An outsider.

One example was a discussion about economic growth in a particular region. Four out of five of the panellists were from the area and one was not.

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The benefits of putting personality into B2B content

‘I don’t think sounding authentically you is the exclusive preserve of social media.

When I’m writing and commenting on social media, Grammarly grumbles at my word choice. Or rather, it points out that I overuse words such as ‘great’, ‘brilliant’, ‘really’ and ‘excellent’.

Make your writing sound human. Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

But when I am writing as myself, rather than for a client, those words are me. They are words I say—a lot.

I see social media as a conversational platform. It’s not a report or a brochure; it’s me talking to my connections, so I use the same words I’d use in a conversation.

They reflect who I am. Why hide my personality?

But I don’t think sounding authentically you is the exclusive preserve of social media.

Think of it another way. If you go to a networking event, how do you talk to people?

Do you talk in a manner that makes you sound like a PowerPoint presentation? I doubt it.

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Creating meaningful B2B content around ‘awareness’ days

All through the year, there are awareness days/months – Fairtrade Fortnight, Stress Awareness Month etc which offer an opportunity to publish related content.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

But it’s important to make sure that what you publish is meaningful and genuine. Your audience will see through content that is a tick box exercise or jumping on the bandwagon.

And, you risk opening your business up to extra scrutiny if you don’t put out content that is authentic and has integrity.

Take International Women’s Day which is coming up on 8 March.

The theme is Choose to Challenge, which provides a whole wealth of opportunity for content, but only if you have robust stories to tell.

Tell genuine stories

Those stories can be about what you are doing to improve gender equality in your business, what progress you’ve made, what difference you are trying to make and why.

It doesn’t matter if you are in the early stages of your strategy if you are taking genuine steps towards meeting your goals.

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Why publishing regular B2B content doesn’t have to be difficult

Producing regular B2B content can seem really daunting. If you are aiming to publish weekly, that’s 50 odd posts which can seem like a lot of ideas.

Photo by Lucas Davies on Unsplash

But it isn’t as onerous a task as it initially appears.

First of all, don’t set out to write 1,500 words a week; website content, which is 400 words and upwards, is fine. Concentrate on writing what each topic is worth rather than hitting a particular word count.

To make coming up with B2B content ideas seem less daunting, start by thinking about the key pain points/areas of interest for your target audience.

Break down your ideas

You talk to your clients so you know what concerns them most, what questions get asked regularly and where they most need help.

Draw up a list of key subject headlines. Then think about how you can break each headline down.

Rather than writing one long piece on one topic, think of writing a series of shorter pieces looking at different aspects.

These can form the basis of your ‘evergreen’ content. Write a bunch of them in advance, so you have them ready or at least have the ideas sketched out to inspire you.

Then think about key events and dates in your business calendar, which will generate ideas or that you will want to comment on.

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Want people to stop scrolling and click on your B2B content?

Promoting your content on social media can be a great way of increasing engagement with your B2B content but there is an art to writing posts that get people to stop scrolling and click through to your content.

A row of people in suits all looking at their smart phones - picture is a close up of their hands.
Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

Think of LinkedIn or Twitter as like a huge crowd with everyone shouting to be heard. You need to craft a few sentences that stand out and grab attention.

It’s not simply a case telling people you’ve written something and they will click through and read.

Doing this just lets down all the hard work you put into your creating your B2B content.

Look at it this way. If you were selling a book door to door, you wouldn’t simply say: “I have a book, do you want to buy it?”

You’d talk about what was in the book and why it was interesting or useful.

And yet it isn’t unusual to see a social media post that says something like: ‘Our latest report on the office market is out’.

Now context, the business brand or person writing the post might help.

But it may not.

And if you are relying solely on who you are to ‘sell’ your content to potential readers, then you are missing out.

Hint: People may not know who you are or have read anything you’ve written before.

You want to make people stop and pay attention and to do that you need to capture their interest or intrigue about your content, so people want to click through and read it.

Here are some ideas for how you can do that:

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