The advent of AI might just kill B2B content marketing as we know it.
There are two reasons why I feel so confident in saying that.
Reason #1: the bar for content quality has been raised. Now, anybody can generate an almost infinite volume of passably human-sounding content, at virtually no cost, in a fraction of the time.
The “floor” for content used to be borderline unintelligible, keyword-stuffed blog posts and web pages that existed only for search engines to scrape and juice rankings. Now, the “floor” for marketing content is about as good as what a novice freelance writer, or a diligent intern, could make you.
Make no mistake: this is not entirely a good thing. Because…
Reason #2: most people aren’t using generative AI as a tool, but as a replacement for a writer / content marketer. Maybe they simply can’t perceive the obvious gap in quality, or maybe they flat out do not care — it doesn’t matter.
The result is the same:
Tons and tons of AI-generated word sludge clogging up every corner of the internet, until it grinds to a halt.
And if you think I’m being dramatic, that’s fair. But it’s already starting.
AI-generated websites that only look like they have useful content on them are popping up everywhere, complete with fake quotes by very real experts. Business owners on sites like Quora and LinkedIn are “answering questions” by copy-pasting ChatGPT outputs whole-cloth. (Gee whiz, what would those troubled users do without their help?) And don’t even get me started on social media posts — I see mediocre machine-made pseudo content in my feed almost every day.
Bottom line is…
If you’re a business that markets to other businesses, your task of cutting through the noise and standing out has just become 100X harder. In order to get noticed by your dream prospects, your B2B content is going to have to play by completely different rules.
The problem is, the playbook hasn’t been written yet. But that’s exactly what I’m here to fix today! (Or begin to, anyway.)
This week, we’re going to cover 4 ways to elevate and differentiate your B2B content in the age of generative AI.
You will learn:
- 2 winning, highly sought-after content formats that are, at least for now, impossible to automate.
- How to make sure your content powerfully resonates with your target market and attracts the exact right people.
- The #1 underrated method for creating B2B content that converts like gangbusters, never goes out of demand, and cannot be replicated with AI.
And more. Before we go in though…
Life and technology come at you fast (disclaimer)
I am writing this post with the full understanding that technology moves lightning fast, and the advice you’ll learn below probably won’t hold out forever. A day may come when even the most sophisticated, human-propelled content is automated and “solved.” But as my idol and source of constant inspiration in life — Aragorn, son of Arathorn, said in the battle at the Black Gate, “It is not this day!”
(I’ve recently rewatched The Lord of the Rings trilogy, so you
might will have to deal with some references now and then.)
And in that spirit, I will still write this post in the hopes that it might help you and others before inevitably becoming obsolete. Deal?
OK, great! Now, here’s what I want you to know right away…
In order to stand out against the noise of AI-generated content, your content will have to become MORE human, not less.
You want to double down on adding things to your marketing content that only us walking flesh sacks are capable of (at the time of this writing, anyway).
So: what are humans the best at? We…
Play — run experiments and document them as content
Here’s a formula for one of the simplest, most enjoyable content formats in existence (especially for B2B):
Step 1. Mess around with a thing
Step 2. Document what happens
Step 3. Create content about your experiment
It doesn’t matter how AI-dominated the internet is going to become — we’ll always want to hear from people who poked at an interesting question and got interesting results. (I mean, who knows, maybe we’ll one day automate that as well. But hey: it is not this day!)
The urge to look at something and go, “What happens if I do X?” is relatable and hard to resist… and so is the urge to learn about it!
Some of my absolute favorite B2B content is about surprising, eye-opening tests — like this roundup of cool pricing experiments from ConversionXL.
Of course, conducting and documenting experiments actually requires you to do things as opposed to writing about a topic in a vacuum, but guess what? It’s the new normal now! (But hey, if you’re seriously not feeling it, you could always go out and curate experiments from other people, like in the example I share above.)
In fact, if you think this is hard, then I have bad news about this next content format I’m about to share with you…
Discover — produce + share original insights with your audience
There are two kinds of B2B content out there:
- Content that recycles ideas from other sources to pass them off as its own.
- And content that packages and presents NEW ideas and concepts.
Now, mind you, #1 isn’t necessarily bad — repeating ideas helps them stick, remixing concepts can add a unique spin, etc etc…
But thanks to AI, it has become easier than ever to do. And as more and more B2B content will turn into low-effort, warmed over verbal diarrhea (apologies for that mental image), audiences will crave something different. Something new.
In this new world, you cannot be a thought recycler. You’ll have to become a thought originator.
Because new ideas? Original research? Fresh insights? All of these are about to be in really short supply.
- Develop, name, and share a unique strategy to help your prospects solve a problem. Extra credit if you can give it a catchy and marketable name, like “zero-click content.”
- Resurrect an old-school idea everyone has forgotten about, adapted to our present times. (Example: “physical product renaissance”)
- Partner with a researcher or an organization and do a small-scale study on a topic relevant to your industry. This is the hardest one by far, but it can produce some amazingly valuable content. E.g. that’s practically the bread and butter of our good friends at HubSpot.
In short, find ways to produce new and valuable knowledge — because it’s going to be in very short supply real soon.
Argue — create compelling contrarian content
Content, especially in the B2B space, isn’t just static articles, videos, podcasts, or whichever medium you’re thinking of…
It’s a conversation. Between you and your audience; between you and other industry players; between you and your employees.
It’s alive and ever evolving.
Someone in your space will come out in favor of a strategy you vehemently disagree with. So you write a manifesto or film a video saying, “Here’s why our brand will never do X.” And taking that stance might lose you some business, sure — but it will attract A LOT MORE people who happen to agree with you.
That’s what we risk losing by lazily delegating all of our content creation needs to generative AI. Content isn’t just words strung together to sound pretty! It’s an expression of ideas, values, and stances. ChatGPT, or whatever tool-o’-the-day supplants it tomorrow, can’t express any of those — because it doesn’t have ‘em.
Now, it can mimic how a person with ideas and values might sound… but without significant human assistance, it’s all just spicy autocomplete that falls apart upon closer scrutiny.
So keep that conversation going. Don’t fall into the trap of treating content as meaningless filler. Be contrarian. Pick honorable fights. Tell your audience where you stand, and they will reward you with attention, trust, and eventually — sales.
Tell stories — add relatable, emotional truths to your content
If there’s a better way to make a marketing message hit like a crowbar across the face, and really connect with your audience (pun intended) than story, I don’t know it.
Humans love a good story, and your target market is no exception. And at least for now, AI can’t spin a good yarn to save its non-existent life.
Also, even when it learns to do it: using fake stories to sell something is called false advertising, and it happens to be illegal. So you’re safe there!
I have been preaching to you to incorporate storytelling into your messaging and marketing for years now, and now they are more necessary than ever.
But I will hold my I told you so’s and simply remind you:
Stories are how we connect to ideas, to other humans, and yes — even to brands and products, in every industry. No marketing message is complete without them.
So come on, think of the next piece of content you want to create, and challenge yourself to base it around a story. Get it out into the world and see what happens.
I double dare you (with love).
AI can help you create B2B content faster and better…
…but not if you let it do all the work.
Now, I’ve been pretty skeptical about AI throughout this post — and that’s putting it mildly. But I do believe it can be a powerful tool that can help you create more compelling content. (I will actually explore the possibilities of it next week in another article, so stay tuned.)
But — and it’s a pretty big, hairy “but”:
It will only do that if used as a tool, not as a poor substitute for the hard work of content creation. Because as powerful as it is, generative AI can’t replace your insights, your ideas, your good taste, and your brand’s unique voice.
In order to work at its best and even remotely live up to all the hype, it still needs YOU at the helm.
And so do your B2B customers and clients. They deserve to hear your real insights and ideas; they deserve to learn from you and other humans behind the brand — not some AI software you’re hiding behind in the name of “efficiency” and “productivity.”
If you can resist the hype and just keep serving your audience to the best of your ability, you will always have happy-to-pay clients and customers in your corner.
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