Judging Books…

We’re a nosey bunch. We love to get glimpses into others’ lives, to see what makes them tick deep down.

We’re exactly the same in the world of B2B content marketing too. Before a business is going to part with its hard-won budget, it will naturally want to get under the hood of your company or product and see if it stands up to scrutiny.

Let’s face it, who can resist the temptation to have a flick through a record collection or sneak a peak inside the bathroom cabinet when you’re at a party (that isn’t just me, is it…?). An equally revealing and less underhand way of finding out what people are interested in – or at least want to be seen to be interested in – is by taking a look at their bookshelves…

Alan Bennett once wrote that: “A bookshelf is as particular to its owner as are his or her clothes; a personality is stamped on a library just as a shoe is shaped by the foot.” And the theory seems to stand up to the test fairly well. Does that copy of ‘Fifty Shades’ betray a hidden side to Mark in Accounts? Who knew Alice was interested in Applied Geodynamics? Would anyone have guessed that shy and retiring Jack had a passion for Swing Dancing?

“Does that copy of ‘Fifty Shades’ betray a hidden side to Mark in Accounts?”

In many ways then, your content strategy in turn becomes the ‘bookshelf’ by which people will judge what your business really stands for. When they visit your social channels or the ‘Resources’ page on your site and scan over the range of collateral on display, assumptions will be made. Even if it’s done fairly unknowingly, if you present visitors with a fine selection of weighty whitepapers bursting full of stats and graphs, you might be viewed (if you’re lucky) as a trusted and established expert in your particular field. Equally, with lots of light-hearted, social media-friendly video and blog content you might be perceived as a more dynamic thought-leader in that space.

The list goes on, but both extremes (and all the various points in between) can work if done well. The trick is making sure that the image your content ‘bookshelf’ presents matches your brand’s personality, and supports a tone that will resonate with your industry and target audience.

Essentially, the takeaway is that a B2B business’s content strategy should play a crucial part in shaping the brand image. Nothing revolutionary there, but you might be surprised how many fail at this; producing dated, staid content and wondering why they’re not seen as daring, innovative pioneers. Worse still, many brands create little content at all. Their shelves remain empty, gathering dust.

So, what does your B2B bookshelf say about you? And if you don’t like the answer, you know who – literally – wrote the book on it all.


Philip Whiting
Senior Account Manager
Birddog Ltd.

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