Business marketing is changing faster than most companies can keep up. Content appears to be the biggest hurdle, but that’s not surprising. Content has traditionally been an afterthought in the B2B space, but it won’t be for much longer.

Today’s B2Bs can no longer rely on how fast they respond to customers, they must also do it well on a number of levels. For instance, social, mobile and video content is influencing B2B buying decisions more than ever before. Buyers want more so they seek more. Too many businesses, especially here in North America, underestimate how dialed-in their customers really are.

To be clear, I’m not talking about products or services. Every business boasts that their stuff is better than the other guy’s. I’m talking about content your buyers can USE:

  • Useful content that educates, supports and services buyers so they can make informed decisions.
  • Social content that creates conversation, gets shared, and puts a face to a name.
  • Engaging content that tells a unique story, can’t be copied, and stands out.

B2B used to be all about measuring the time and cost to service customers. Now companies must measure overall customer engagement with their brand if they hope to compete. In simple terms, customers engage with companies that are engaging.

How to be engaging in a B2B world that is bland and boring

Last June, my good pal Ann Handley over at MarketingProfs shared an awesome Slideshare on how to tell your company’s story. I’m digging it up again because of my recent experience with Maersk Line, the global Danish container shipping giant. If you take the time to answer the questions in Ann’s slide deck below and read the Maersk case study, you’ll find a lot of parallels you can use for your own business.

Let’s face it: B2B buyers are B2C consumers when they’re not at work. And since they are already interacting with new technology, it shouldn’t be a surprise that B2B buyers seek out companies that are also socially engaged. When Maersk Line launched their social media platform in late 2011, they focused on communication, not marketing. They intentionally use social networks to… wait for it… socially engage with their customers instead of hitting them up with useless social media advertising. In doing so, Maersk turned B2B social media on its head. After 11 months their customer engagement scores were through the roof. Go figure.

Today’s B2B customer is empowered by useful and engaging content. To compete in the next two to three years, B2Bs need to become content-centric organizations and start delivering content that generates demand.

The rules of customer engagement have changed. Is your business prepared? Share your thoughts and sound off in the comments below.

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