With advertising budgets under continued pressure, it’s time for B2B content marketers to get creative, says Judith Ingleton-Beer, CEO at IBA International.

In the US, digital ad spending has seen its slowest ever growth rate of 7.8%, while the UK’s ad spending dropped to 0.5% in 2023. At the same time, however, trust for PR and Marketing departments has reached an all-time high, as more and more of the C-Suite approach PR and marketing teams for higher return on investment (ROI).

Stretch content lifecycles to the max – it’s all in the quality

There looks to be no change in the coming year for ad spend and B2B PR and Marketing professionals will need to extract new value for money and maximise the content lifecycle by telling creative stories, conducting research, and utilising SEO.

Almost two-thirds of B2B buyers believe that corporate brand messaging is too vague to actively represent their brand and attract buyers. That means that content strategy performance will be under the spotlight.

Creating quality content can open up an entire new avenue for media coverage, putting subject matter experts and company developments in as many targeted publications as possible, without breaking the bank.

There’s no content quite like earned media content

Earning quality media placements is key to saving on sponsored content and advertising spend. Regardless of where spending is split between B2B PR and marketing strategies, one thing is clear – making the most of earned media opportunities is essential.

Earned media, when combined with a trusted thought leader and quality content, can build significant trust and credibility – two components that are vital to the B2B sales funnel. It’s all about influencer marketing – not pay-for-play. Now more than ever, cost-effective PR and marketing strategies are top of the agenda, so B2B professionals can gain maximum brand exposure with minimum spend.

Remember, a strong brand reputation can’t be bought, so use earned channels to your advantage. In today’s diverse media landscape, B2B PR and Marketing professionals are no longer limited to print media – it’s all about digital publications, social media channels and blogs providing the optimal platform to raise brand awareness and connect directly with target audiences. Not an advertising penny in sight!

Is video the way forward?

With HubSpot estimating that the number of digital video viewers will hit 3.5 billion in 2023 and people are watching, on average, 17 hours of online videos per week, it’s clear that audiences are receptive to digital video content. In fact, according to the same report, people are 52% more likely to share video content than any other type of content – which is why video must play an integral role in the content lifecycle.

Video content marketing on earned channels is a good avenue for B2B organisations to grow brand awareness and trust at little cost. The popularity of short-form video content is rising, thanks to the likes of TikTok and Instagram Reels; the quality of longer-form content is improving and the number of platforms where it can be hosted is increasing – YouTube channels and LinkedIn are just two examples where users can freely post interactive and visually engaging content such as webinars and recorded Q&As, which are able to cater to exactly what a B2B organisation needs and at a fraction of the price of advertising.

While video content marketing comes with an incredible amount of potential, B2B PR and marketing professionals shouldn’t ignore other tried-and-tested media formats such as podcasts, blog posts, infographics and SEO that together can complete the perfect digital content stack.

The power of SEO to boost brand awareness

Buyers still want to meet brands in spaces that are comfortable for them, but they increasingly want this to occur digitally and organically – enter SEO. With a LinkedIn study reporting that search engines, social media platforms and vendor websites make up the top three sources that B2B buyers look to for information, it’s safe to say that SEO is a necessity.

Investment in SEO provides vital building blocks to build brand awareness, credibility and trust within key target audiences. As media outlets transition to most online platforms, B2B organisations should focus on creating high-quality content, incorporating SEO-driven keywords and backlinks to drive traffic back to their own sites.

Breaking down the key pillars for success

Making use of a powerful content stack strategy can elicit strong brand recall by incorporating a series of PR and Marketing assets around one campaign topic – from a thought leadership article to a corresponding blog and white paper on the company website, to subsequent social media posting.

Campaigns must be planned strategically, incorporating multiple content stacks to create a blend of carefully curated messaging. B2B PR and marketing professionals need to ensure that they can extract as many articles, placed in as many target media outlets as possible, to consistently communicate the value of their solutions and service. This strategy ensures that prospects see key messages multiple times per week in the media. Then bring in those other elements of the content stack to hit prospects in the keyword searches, website visits and social media browsing.

It’s all about bringing together quality, SEO-optimised content on multiple platforms to ensure optimal ROI.

Open the door to new opportunities

Advertising spending cuts aren’t set to ease any time soon, so there really is no time like the present to ensure the content lifecycle gets your full attention. From proving ROI and securing quality earned media placement, the list of benefits that come with getting creative is clear to see.

As one door closes in advertising, another door opens for PR and marketing. Make sure you open it!