The law of small numbers in B2B

The law of small numbers in B2B

October 22, 2015


October 22, 2015


The law of small numbers in B2B


Tony Hallett
Managing director

Tony set up Collective Content in 2011 so brands can more easily become publishers and tell stories. This built on 15 years in media, from reporter to publishing director at Silicon Media Group, CNET Networks and CBS Interactive.

This post was inspired by another titled ‘If no one clicks, was your blog post a waste of time?’ It was by the excellent Emily Cretella at Cursive Content who in turn had Seth Godin as her catalyst after he wrote ‘“No one clicked on it, no one liked it…”’. It’s worth reading them both.


Aside from the paradox that no one can say the same about this post by the undeniable reality of you reading these words right now, there is a bigger question that all writers and content must confront.

In short: What good is your work if no one consumes it?
This is the same discussion that has led to a number of frequently heard comments in recent years:

  • “Even the best content is useless if no one reads it”
  • “Content is no longer king – distribution is king.”

And so on and so on.

My first reaction to both posts was ‘What use is content that no one reads?’ Then I thought deeply about some posts I’ve written personally for and for this blog. I came to content marketing after over 15 years of writing for publications with sizable online audiences. Everything got thousands of eyeballs. Even the poorest performing received hundreds. Not so on my own sites.

So what happens when hardly anyone clicks on your latest post? Here are some thoughts:

  1. Even if no one clicked, was it a waste? That’s an unlikely scenario but what if the process or researching taught the writer something? What if it cleared someone’s thinking? What if it leads to other ideas or gets found and used a month or a year from now? Sometimes the best things start out as a near secret.
  2. Do you need lots of readers? Really? Large audiences are nice. In B2C you could say they’re essential. But in B2B? Do they do more than stoke our egos?
  3. Can a click tell the complete story? For one thing, as Emily puts it: “You might not know about the person who has it pinned to the wall above their desk.” And don’t even get us started on why people share.

In B2B your content is all about reaching the right people. Back when I worked in technology media we once lost a major advertiser that was taking its budget to invest in its own high-end print publication aimed at only a few hundred chief information officers (CIOs). Winning business from just one of that target audience was worth the focus.

Thinking of this small blog, our traffic is low but I can’t think of a single Collective Content client who hasn’t talked to me about our blog posts or something else on the website. Of course we would like more traffic – and more clients – but there is nothing wrong with a small audience that is high-value.

Doubt me? We see this all the time in our personal lives. We might have only a few dozen strong connections on some social networks – but then there are only a handful of people we really care about or love. That’s just fine.

*photo credit: Brazil via photopin (license)
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