If you’ve got advertising budget available and you want to channel the results into your content strategy, what should your adverts look like?

Advertising, in its many forms, can still play a role in B2B lead generation. Online display advertising in particular lends itself to integration with content marketing strategy. In fact, positioning advertising as a component of the content marketing strategy offers the opportunity to obtain even greater results.

Regardless of your application for advertising, it’s worth taking the content marketing view and remembering what advertising likely can and cannot do.

The content marketing context

Advertising in B2B content marketingIn the content marketing context, advertising is a top of the funnel activity, a method for reaching strangers and, hopefully, turning them into visitors. This stands to reason since you have paid for this opportunity to be exposed to your prospect and your message has only an instant to capture their attention.

By definition, the message that can be communicated in an instant, and make a big enough impact to generate a response, cannot simultaneously move a B2B prospect all the way through the buying process.

So your advert is targeting strangers at the very top of, or even outside, your lead funnel. You hope to turn them into visitors and you only have an instant in which to do it. How can you maximise the performance of your advertising?

Give them what they want

A modern B2B buyer at the top of the funnel in interested in two things:

  1. Business benefits
  2. Content around their business challenge

Benefits, not features

As Theodore Levitt famously put it – “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

B2B buyers, at the top of the funnel especially, don’t start comparing products by their features, they start by identifying products that promise to solve their problems. The solution to a problem is the benefit obtained by purchasing a product. At the top of the funnel, your buyer doesn’t care how great your product is, they care how great the benefit for them is.

More specifically, when looking at your advert, your buyer cares about the benefit for them in taking the desired action, i.e. clicking, watching or downloading. This benefit being a proxy for your offering’s business benefit.

Later in the buying process, buyers will start to compare products in more detail and will look at features more closely. By this time however they will be in the middle of your funnel – far beyond the point at which your adverts influenced them.

Content for their business challenge

We know that B2B buyers at the top of the funnel are in the early stages of the buying process, either identifying their problem or researching solutions. And we also know that more and more B2B buyers are consuming content in order to inform their buying decisions while avoiding the need to actually talk to vendors.

Therefore we know that content is an excellent incentive to encourage your prospects into the top of the funnel.

example content marketing advert

A great example of advertising in the context of content marketing


So what does a benefit-led, content offer advert look like? It doesn’t contain middle or bottom of the funnel messages, it doesn’t contain more than one benefit and it isn’t busy. It is simple, eye-catching, bold and consistent with your brand.

To see how its done, take a look at the great example on the right. Introhive do a great job of aligning their advertising with content strategy and brand. We love it.