What is content archetype and how to select one for your B2B content strategy
- Fixing content archetypes helps you determine the kind of content you should create for your target customers.
- There are 5 types of content archetypes – content as currency, content as window, content as a community, content as support and content as presence.
- What content archetype you choose for your brand depends on your customer demands and interactions with the internal team.
- You can have a combination of different content archetypes that uniquely represent your brand and engage your customers.
With the rise of Generative AI - it is key for brands from here on to showcase authenticity and authority. Thankfully, content marketing still works for that – and will gain more importance in successful B2B marketing strategy execution.
Even today, nothing else will uplift your B2B brand’s industrial authority like good quality content.
Does this mean you should start creating accounts on every social media platform out there?
The first step to a successful B2B content marketing strategy is to identify your content archetype. Getting your content archetype correct reduces your content marketing efforts with fewer content experiments and gets faster ROI.
Here are the 3 outcomes of reading our guide to identifying your content archetype:
- Know your content archetype from the 5 types of content archetypes available
- Gain inspiration with content strategy examples across each content archetype to design for your B2B brand
- Develop a content strategy archetype for your B2B brand
What is a content archetype?
A content archetype defines what you will include in your branded content library and how you present it to your target audience. It includes specifics like content formats, platforms where you will focus on having a brand presence, use cases, etc.
Selecting the right content archetype is the difference between an engaged audience that is likely to convert and high bounce rates on the content that your B2B brand shares.
Here are 5 types of content archetypes with examples:
Content as presence
Engage broad audience
Red Bull, Taco Bell, CRED, Go Pro, Coca-Cola
Content as window
Give an inside peak at how the business works, employee treatment, and customer stories
Zomato, McDonald’s, Banks, Healthcare brands, Maersk
Content as currency
Present the brand as an authority or subject matter expert
Dun & Bradstreet, McKinsey, KPMG, Charles SCHWAB
Content as community
Building a community, focus on UGC
Playstation, Discord, Adobe Design, LinkedIn
Content as support
Content focused on educating about the product
AWS, Google Cloud, IBM, Bubble
How is content archetype different from brand archetype?
On a simple Google search, you will see lots of results around brand archetypes for the search query of the ‘content archetype’. These two are very different concepts, hence clearing the difference in this section.
A brand archetype helps you pin a specific persona to your company based on 12 human values and desires. It is based on your company’s brand narrative, the values it promotes and the brand voice that you use to present yourself to the world.
For example, Nike’s brand archetype is ‘Hero’, Amazon’s brand archetype is Everyman and Disney’s brand archetype is Magician.
While content archetype is specific to the kind of content you create under your brand and how it is presented to your customers and audience.
What are the 5 types of content archetypes?
Broadly, there are 5 important content archetypes as follows:
Content as presence
Use case: here, you create content whose purpose is to improve your brand awareness and recall. It helps them picture what it is like to associate themselves with the brand.
What success looks like: you can use brand awareness metrics like direct website traffic, branded search volume, social media mentions, video views, etc.
Content types: advertising, social media campaigns, sponsorships, running contests, awards
Example: Superbowl campaigns are typical examples of content created for brand awareness under content as a presence archetype.
Examples of brands with content as presence archetype:
- Red Bull: known to sponsor Formula1 races and run ads that reflect adventure and danger
- CRED app: sponsors many events like IPL, conferences, etc and is known for its off-beat ads with Indian celebrities
- Apple: sponsors films for showing its product usage, Superbowl ads, and other product release ads or presentations
A playlist of CRED ads run during the Indian Premier League
Content as window
Use case: humanize a brand by showing content around how it thinks, works, and executes. It helps build trust by being transparent about its practices and work ethics.
What success looks like: you can benchmark your company based on industry standards to know how trusted you are as a brand. A trusted brand may have partners, a good Net Promoter Score (NPS), quality assurance certifications, etc.
Content types: customer stories, testimonials, case studies, video interviews, thought leadership podcasts with industry leaders, etc.
Example: Sharing video testimonials or case studies of customers is a common practice for publishing under content as a window archetype. Here are some examples of brands with content as a window archetype:
- McDonald’s: they have published or allowed creators to make many documentaries around its processing factories and business model. Here’s one of them – How McDonald's Burgers Are Made? McDonald's Burger Factory
- Banks or finance brands: many banks focus on showcasing their success stories across personal and business banking. Here’s an example by HSBC: Life on the HSBC Wealth and Personal Banking programme, or check case studies by American Express
- Toyota: the carmaker gained immense trust in the industry with its famous Just-In-Time manufacturing process philosophy. Other brands write about them leading to mentions, their competitors adopt their process and academicians teach their process in classrooms. That’s some authority right there!
Toyota has published multiple thought leadership content pieces about its production system on their website
Content as Currency
Use case: helps you showcase your expertise via content. If you consistently produce insightful content, your industry peers start viewing you as a subject matter expert.
What success looks like: you have many lead signups for your gated content, people purchase your paid content, website traffic, reading time spent on your blog pages, search rankings, backlinks to your content, social shares for the content, and the number of subscriptions
Content types: annual/research reports, whitepapers, gated content, newsletter, courses, webinars, email courses, eBooks, templates, private communities, training and certifications
Example: industry trend reports are a common example of publishing content as a currency. Here are some examples of brands with content as a currency archetype:
- HackerRank: their on-demand webinars are a typical example of using content for lead generation. Their library also features guides, reports and datasheets relevant to their target audience.
- Dun & Bradstreet: providing training and certification is a great way to claim authority on the subject. HubSpot, AWS and Google also adopt certifications to encourage product usage as a skillset worth having.
- Shell: Their ESG information hub is a good example of publishing content that educates its audience about the nascent ESG industry and how they are aligning itself with it.
HackerRank's On-Demand webinars coupled with lead generation form
Content as Community
Use case: great for B2B brands who have established a loyal customer base and want to retain them with community initiatives. This results in good user-generated content. Here, a brand doesn’t focus on selling, but on ensuring the members collaborate while, ideally, using their products. Community is a good way to trigger word of mouth and closely monitor product feedback.
What success looks like: determine paid customers obtained from the community versus other channels, social shares, community engagement, increase/decrease number of support tickets, trackable links, Net Promotor Score (NPS), event attendees
Content types: event, Ask-Me-Anything sessions on chat, tips and tricks, online forums, niche publications, microsites
Examples: Setting up online forums is a common way to nurture user-generated content. Here are some examples of brands with content as a community archetype:
- Dribbble: community is a core part of Dribbble’s marketplace. The profiles and design mockups listed act as content pages that indeed rank and get shared – improving their site authority. They also host local meetups and online events to engage the community
- Digital Ocean: they organize hackathons and run startup programs to support developers in building and growing their projects.
- SalesForce: their Trailblazer community is very active with multiple community initiatives across hiring support, upskilling, events, conferences, community forums, etc.
From hackathons to CSS tricks, Digital Ocean has implemented every trick in the community content playbook
Content as a Support
Use case: publishing content and documentation that accurately supports your customers in using your product for their personal or business goals.
What success looks like: decrease in the number of support tickets, the community solving each other's problems in public forums, website traffic, search ranking, customer happiness, ratings of your customer support team
Content formats: How-to blog posts, datasheets, user manuals, tutorials, videos, use case-based product demos, help guides, product documentation, FAQs
Example: Product documentations are the most common and impactful ways to help your customers self-serve their support queries. Many brands integrate their product documentation with a chatbot to answer queries before connecting them with a human support agent.
Here are some brands with content as support archetype:
- Google: many hardly use their customer support as their product documentation is pretty comprehensive and covers many support cases. I have observed many of their community support forum questions actively answered by the Google team.
- General Motors: Their Experience GM section contains many tutorials, a technicians directory, and rewards access to enable their customers to make the most of their purchases.
- Lenovo: their support portal has a good self-serve system for their complete range of products. This includes installing updates, troubleshooting, service provider directory, purchasing original hardware and contacting human support.
Lenovo has set up an effective self-serve + human-assisted ecosystem for its customers
How to design a content strategy archetype for a B2B brand?
You can mix and match different content archetypes to create B2B content strategy deliverables that align with the business goals. Bring in your marketing team and stakeholders to gain clarity on below aspects of the business:
Step–1: Understand your business stage
Answer the below questions:
- Prioritize: How many customers do you have across the customer funnel stage? Do you want to increase brand awareness to increase qualified leads? Maybe you have the traffic, and now you want to convert them? Do you already have a good number of customers and want to improve retention?
- Double-down: Did you make any attempt at content marketing? If yes, do check your metrics to know what is already working and what isn’t. Figure out what to double down on.
- Budget and resource availability: Generally, content as a currency archetype requires a good budget due to the expertise involved. While user-generated content is of course the cheapest as it's free. Determine how much you are willing to invest in B2B content experiments. Make the most of what is available.
Step–2: Research your customers
Your customers need to find your B2B content library truly useful. Here’s where you can start your research:
Ask your team:
- Sales: What kind of questions does your sales team get? Where do customers drop off in the purchase cycle? Why did they choose you over competitors? Whom are they comparing your brand with?
- Support: What are your customers asking in their support tickets? Do they understand your product documentation and can self-serve?
- Customers: If you have an existing community or active social following, just ask them what kind of content they would like to read.
- Google/Bing search console: What are they searching for on Google? What pages are already ranking? What keywords are you ranking for?
- Social media insights: where do your customers already hang out on the internet? What are they discussing there? If you have worked on building an audience for your brand, then check analytics to know who is resonating with your content.
Step–3: Competitor Analysis
Based on the above-mentioned 5 types of content archetypes, figure out what your industry competitors are following.
Here are some pointers to conduct a basic analysis:
- Content formats
- Publishing cadence
- Target audience
- SEO research for keywords, traffic sources, audience insights, domain authority, etc
- Content categories
- Content length
- Content quality – how much research was put into the blogs
- Search for their content team on LinkedIn. Check if they appeared on any webinar or podcast sharing their success stories.
You should prioritize your digital content strategy based on your customer behavior and demands. Competition analysis helps you determine what content experiments you can potentially carry out.
Step–4: Choice of platforms
Do you need a separate platform?
To know this, ask your team and stakeholders the below questions:
- What kind of B2B content will your customers find more useful? Do they like videos? Do they have time to attend webinars?
- What is their preferred platform of choice where they already hang out? What social media platforms are they active on?
- If your audience is not majorly on social channels, then does it make sense to invest in a separate forum under your brand?
- Where will you run your community content efforts?
- Does self-serve make sense for the kind of product you offer? What is the extent of self-serve content you can create?
Having clarity on the above steps is good fodder for selecting your content archetypes.
Here's how Alan Gleeson, CEO & Co-Founder of Contento, finalized content archetypes for his Headless CMS SaaS:
We operate in a newly emergent category called Headless Content Management Systems (CMS) which essentially relates to a new way to manage your website. We recognised the category was pretty new and overly technical. We also noted that relevant search term volumes were low reflecting the fact the concept was still in an early adopter phase. We thus narrowed in on the goal of looking to educate the market. In stark contrast to most of our competitors, we seek to pitch at personas that are not well served by them. For us, WordPress is a legacy solution unfit for the needs of modern B2B SaaS websites and thus a lot of our content takes a strong position framing against legacy solutions. Our solution fits in a new technical category that is a modern take on what WordPress did 20 years ago and thus we are seeking to educate (Professor archetype) and to open people's minds (Poet archetype) new possibilities. We advocate that there is another way. - Alan Gleeson, CEO & Co-Founder of Contento.io
Identifying the content strategy archetype of your competitors – example of Dun and Bradstreet
Using some aspects of the above framework, let us find out the content archetypes of a B2B brand like Dun and Bradstreet.
The image shows the variety of content formats and industries targeted by Dun & Bradstreet with its content
Go to the website and analyze the content. You can see 2 content archetypes on display:Content as currency:
- Use case: to showcase Dun and Bradstreet as a subject matter expert in business, data and economics space
- Content formats: publishing reports and insights across 16 industries, 20+ publications, podcasts, webinars, guides, eBooks, thought leadership, conferences, and blogs on data and analytics topics.
- Target audience: to educate and inform decision-makers in the industry and government across financial services, technology, retail, communications and manufacturing markets.
Content as Window:
- Use case: Dun & Bradstreet creates content about the D-U-N-S Number – a live business identity proprietary system by the company.
- Content formats: website pages, blogs, customer stories
- Target audience: make potential clients aware of the D-U-N-S number and educate existing clients about navigating the system.
By using Content as Currency and Window, Dun & Bradstreet can build trust around its business consultancy products and services. Generally, organizations that require trust-building often use these two content archetypes
Can you have more than one content archetype?
We asked marketers what they think about having multiple content archetypes:
I’d recommend focusing on a few core archetypes rather than trying to incorporate too many at once. This allows you to develop a clear and consistent brand voice and messaging, which is essential for building brand recognition and loyalty. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't experiment with different archetypes over time. As your business and audience evolve, it's important to remain adaptable and responsive to changing trends and preferences. Experimenting with new archetypes can be beneficial to keep your content fresh and engaging. You can start by testing new archetypes on a small scale and analyzing the results before implementing them into your overall content strategy.
Tomas recommends having primary and secondary content archetypes for enabling content experiments:
While it's essential to maintain consistency in your content strategy, it's also important to strike a balance between uniformity and creativity. We recommend having one primary content archetype and experimenting with one or two secondary archetypes. This approach allows for more flexibility and adaptability, enabling you to better connect with different segments of your audience and address their varying needs.
Brooks Manley, Owner of Brooks Manley Marketing, believes your resources play a key role in deciding how many content archetypes you can play with:
I'll say that you can definitely adopt multiple content archetypes. I think the number you commit to as part of your strategy should primarily depend on your resources. If you're limited, just pick one. If you've got a big content team, commit to as many as you think will resonate with your audience.
In the end, how many archetypes you adopt really depends on what your customer seeks from your brand. It may also depend on your competition – but one can defy the default industry vibes to stand out!
If you get it wrong, you can always refresh your content and align it with your new content strategy deliverables or repurpose it. Creating good content really doesn’t go to waste.
Can you pivot your content archetypes?
We asked subject matter experts across industries if they had to pivot their content archetypes, and how they did it:
Natalia Tomchyshyn, Marketing Director at Relokia - a B2B service company into data migration and backup, shared how lack of content engagement was an important factor for pivoting content archetype:
We have pivoted our content archetypes at different points in our content strategy. We knew it was time to pivot when we noticed a decline in engagement or when our target audience's preferences and needs changed. We have pivoted multiple times to adapt to changing market conditions and to stay relevant and engaging to our audience.
Ivan Karp, Managing Director of Trujay, shares how new business opportunities and changing business trends are key indicators for pivoting your content archetypes:
The decision to pivot content archetypes should be based on careful analysis and consideration of various factors, such as changes in consumer behaviour or preferences, competitive landscapes, shifts in industry trends, or new business opportunities - which I did for my Brand. The key is to remain flexible, yet ensure you do not change your brand values and messaging.
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