The Anatomy of Killer Behind-the-Scenes B2B Content Marketing

Behind-the-scenes stories may have been a hallmark of the fast-dying DVD industry, but it’s not time to throw the baby out with the bathwater. (Or, you know, that old copy of The Break-Up.) Behind-the-scenes tales are alive and well, finding a new home in B2B content marketing strategies. After all, everyone loves a success story—especially when they can use it to score their own tale of triumph.

In B2B marketing, a great behind-the-scenes story can be as simple as describing how an advertisement was made. As Daniel Boorstin wrote in The Image:

“… Some of the most effective advertising nowadays consists of circumstantial descriptions of how the advertising images were contrived: how tests were devised, how trademarks were designed, and how the corporate cosmetics were applied. The stage machinery, the processes of fabricating and projecting the image, fascinate us. We are all interested in watching a skillful feat of magic; we are still more interested in looking behind the scenes and seeing precisely how it was made to seem that the lady was sawed in half.”

Of course, not all magic tricks are created equal. It’s incredibly easy for behind-the-scenes content to come across as self-centered and boring. Here’s how to ensure your “behind-the-scenes” stories rock:

1. Show unusual results

If you’re going to reveal your tricks, you’ll want to make sure that people are actually wowed by your magic. Be David Blaine. Don’t be that drunk uncle pulling a quarter out of someone’s ear.

For example, raising millions on Kickstarter is impressive. Earning thousands of new readers by getting featured on a popular author’s blog is impressive. Getting 2,500+ percent ROI in Facebook campaigns is impressive. Doubling your Twitter followers from 300 to 600 is not.

2. Dish the specifics

Unusual results hook readers, but it’s the details you reveal that will keep them on the line. Milestones are extremely effective because they give the reader benchmarks and provide narrative structure. For example, anyone thinking of self-publishing a book will want to read Charlie Hoehn’s tale of his self-publishing adventure.

Zac Park similarly talks about specific goals and targets that you should aim for when raising funding for a Kickstarter campaign, like a pre-launch list of 15,000–20,000 email addresses.

Business scripts are also extremely useful. Content marketer Gregory Ciotti shares his email script for republishing posts in this article about how he lands guest posts. Persuasion and psychology guru Ramit Sethi shares scripts that readers can use word for word on how to negotiate higher salaries or more flexible hours.

3. Show repeat success

There’s nothing worse than a piece that focuses on a single experiment in a poorly disguised attempt to sail on borrowed wind. If you want to impress discerning readers, repeat success is a requisite. For example, Zac Park’s piece on Kickstarter fundraising draws information from several different campaigns, the different strategies and tactics he used, and the varying results generated.

4. Discuss both strategy and tactics

It’s not a choice between the two—you should share both your strategies and tactics with your readers. It’s quite simple: Explain the principles behind your actions, and then back it up with a concrete example.

A lot of people just share high-level tips so that they’re applicable to all readers, but that makes it harder for readers to grasp the concept. It’s also just boring.

5. Spice it up and serve it out

It’s crucial for you to give your veggies that right spice or caramel glaze; you also need to make your readers care enough to share. Alex Turnbull from Groove advocates featuring thought leaders or industry luminaries in your content and cross-promoting it with them. Check out his story of how he did this with great success for his own marketing campaign.

You can also promote the “behind-the-scenes” work within communities. For example, if your “behind-the-scenes” piece is relevant to digital marketers, then look into communities like Inbound, Quibb, and GrowthHackers. If you think your piece has more general appeal, try posting it on sites like Medium, Hacker News, and Reddit.

And whatever you do, remember to tell a good story. Narrative is always number one.

What’s the deal with The Content Strategist? At Contently, storytelling is the only marketing we do, and it works wonders. It could for you, too. Learn more.

Image by Jason Parrish

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