The 414 – The Evolution of Content Marketing For B2B Marketers [Episode 22]

The 414  – The Evolution of Content Marketing For B2B Marketers [Episode 22]


– This week on The 414, it’s about the evolution
of content marketing for B2B marketers. When you think about it, because ongoing lasting relationships are at the heart of B2B, this is why excelling at content marketing will pay dividends. And my guest this week is here to give a thoroughly
high-level insight for how you can do just that. Hi, I’m James Rostance,
and welcome to The 414, each week with some of the greatest and most interesting
minds in B2B marketing. And my guest today is someone
who has an incredible grasp on the latest concepts and
direction things are taking within content marketing as she’s the MD of the
Content Marketing Association. Welcome, Catherine Maskell. – Hi James, thanks very
much for having me. – Absolute pleasure. So, Catherine, could you start
by sharing your viewpoint on how content marketing
sits within the B2B world? – Yes, thank you. So, James, I think content
marketing really sits, as you nicely said actually in the intro, at the very heart of good B2B marketing. I think what it takes to
really excel at B2B marketing is an understanding of your audience. And what we find and what we see with our rewards and our best practice that we do here at the CMA is that those people who really adopt an audience-first proposition to their marketing and to their strategy then that’s when they really start to use content to the
best of its abilities. Because ultimately good B2B marketing is about buildings relationships, it’s about understanding
who your audience is and developing your products and services to really meet their needs. And I think that’s so
influential these days. It’s a growing situation
where the two forces, if they come together, it actually works as a B2B
explosion, should we say. – And what would you see as
being key general approaches that are taken by B2B
marketers at present, and what perhaps are they doing wrong? – Well, I think what, and this isn’t just really
to call out B2B marketers, I think this is something that perhaps, and I’ve also been
guilty of it in the past, so I don’t want to appear too critical. But I think what people tend to do is they tend to think in tactics rather than actually thinking
about their overall strategy. And I think when I say that what I mean is that people think, oh I need
a video to communicate this, or I need a piece of research
in order to communicate this. And actually, if you go back
to putting your audience first and really thinking about
your longterm effect and your longterm communication that you have with your audience, I think that’s where it
becomes more interesting. And I would urge B2B marketers
really step back and say, right, what is it that I
want my brand to communicate? What purpose am I trying to drive here? And then how do I that? And really looking, because this is where some
of the most exciting work is really happening, actually, it’s really looking at
the diversity of options that are available to you now. And I think sometimes
people don’t also look at the B2C tactics and
really think about those, because they work within
the B2B world too. If you are a member of the C-suite, you are probably not at home very often. And so therefore communicating
to me, for instance, the best way would be
to do it via Instagram, because that’s where I
spend a lot of my time, or via LinkedIn. So I think it’s really
looking at the communication and thinking about what
are the high points, what are the engagement points that you could have with
your potential customer and even your existing
customer along the way. – Okay. Well, in that case, looking to the future, what do you see as being
a root or direction which they could take that you know would ultimately
be highly advantageous? – Well, I think in talking to our members what we see is where those people that are
working with those clients and actually are brands who work with us and where they say they’re
having the best success is they’re are taking an
editorial view of that brand, actually, which is something that not enough people I don’t think are doing, and those who are doing it, as I said, are really reaping the rewards. So, it’s taking a step back and putting content at the
heart of your business. So I think previously communications have
always been thought about as just being parts of
the marketing team’s job or the communications team’s job. But actually there’s a real
opportunity with content. Put it at the heart of your business and involve all of your
internal stakeholders, so your customer service
teams, your social teams, your key stakeholders, the sales teams as well, so that people really understand
what your tone of voice is, the message that you’re trying to portray, and how you’re then
portraying that message. Because we’ve gone beyond as a society, we’ve gone beyond just
being broadcasted to and just being shouted at in terms of, I’ve got a product to sell and I’m gonna tell you all
of its key selling points and you’re gonna buy it. That just isn’t the way that
any of us operate anymore. And we like to know more of the backstory, we like to know why, we like to know who we’re buying it from, what do they stand for. And I think in order to do that, putting content at the
heart of your business, working with your agency partners, ask partners, which is absolutely key, looking at who you’re trying to address in terms of your audience, and then measuring that as well. Because the key parts obviously
of what we’re all doing is to keep the world going round, and measuring that, understanding
what you need at the front so that when you get to
the end of the campaign or the end of a certain period, you can really assess what
it is that you’ve done. And I think my top tip, if I could, not to harp on the point too much, would be don’t be too
afraid of the small numbers. If your audience is
actually only 12 people and you’ve got six of those people, then 50% is absolutely key. So, that’s the other key part. Not everything has to
be about huge numbers, huge, 2,000 or, you know, a million views. Actually it’s be targeted, talk to those people in a way that they want to be spoken to. – Well, are there any obstacles,
then, or thought processes which maybe need to be changed or evolved in order to excel with that? – Yes, I think there is. I don’t think editorializing your brand is not something that
actually is an easy route. Because getting all of those stakeholders who I mentioned before actually involved and understanding the
role that they can play within the marketing communications, it has always been a challenge. So I think if you… That really is where strong leadership and actually engaging and ensuring that you can deliver back, so the measurement element here, this is where this becomes key, because it means that you can deliver back and replay to your senior stakeholders what content has delivered. And the other thing that I would say, my second tip actually would be always look at content from
a longterm perspective. So, something that you may
have produced in January, keep measuring it in October, December. Because the longevity that content gives is not a one-hit wonder, it’s not an ad that just
is there for 30 seconds. This is almost a breathing
part of your brand which exists either on
digital or indeed in print and so people will refer back
to that on an ongoing basis. So, content really can be the mechanic that just keeps on giving to your brand and adding brand value. – And following on from that, then, what would you say are your
current favorite examples of B2B content marketing
done incredibly well, and which companies are they for? – Well, I think there’s quite
a diverse group of people who are doing it really well. I think, for instance, another membership organization, the CIPR, they have a quarterly magazine, and they’ve done with the use of… What’s the word? AI, actually using that to
actually produce a front cover which then actually turns into a video. So I think there’s some real
innovative mechanics being used to really drive engagement with what is seen as a traditional format, so looking at things like print, which I think is really interesting, and using that in a different way, because not many people are doing that and I think that’s a big opportunity. We’ve also, looking, we
have quite strong ties with a Norwegian agency that has worked with the
Norwegian Hospitality Union. And they actually took their
B2B campaign one step further. Because obviously over
Christmas, Hospitality staff, there’s quite a lot of enjoyment and so things do get out of hand, and so with them and their staff they actually developed a
cocktail just using water which was called The Savior. So they would hand this out at the start. And I think that’s a great example. So at the start, when they had group
parties coming in to bars, they would give them a glass
of Savior, which is water. But I think that’s a great example. I know. Because I think taking that live element also is really interesting, and using your own staff
as the influencers as well. There’s a lot of talk about
working with influencers but if you can use your
own staff, your own team, your own connections, that’s a great place to start because they already understand what your brand is trying to say. – Okay. I’m just trying to get my head around how much of a crazy staff
party that must have been of, “Here, have some water.” And holding a straight face
whilst they’re doing it. – And I think there’s
also quite a lot of brands that are using Instagram,
as I mentioned before, actually to talk to those C-suites people. I receive a number of
sponsored posts actually looking and telling me that
there’s new reports available or that there’s new product developments. So, if you look at somebody
like Sam Rush, for instance, they do a lot of work actually on developing the proposition
that they’re building, they’re a platform. And the constant
refinement reporting back, you really feel engaged with them in terms of what it is
that they’re offering and you see a vision
of where they’re going. – From the very forefront
of search engine marketing. – Right, exactly, yes, yeah. But I think it’s interesting that they’re looking at different tactics. Because you would think that
they would just go perhaps, as you say, they’re at the
forefront of digital marketing, but they also go back to
some of the traditional more B2C aspects too. – And finally, then, what do you consider to be the most exciting
opportunity or development in content marketing right now? – Well, I think for us, the most exciting thing right now actually and where the new
developments are happening, obviously you’ve got the
most traditional ones that everybody would think of which is AI, but I would urge everybody to re-look at the world of print. Because there is, as I mentioned, there is some phenomenal
work going on there. And print as used as part
of a multimedia channel actually is still having
a profound effect. So, you know how we all
thought that vinyl was dead? I think it’s the same that
goes actually for print, and it really is having a resurgence, because we’re all aware
of this digital fatigue that all of us are actually having. And so print just gives
you that different option, it gives you more of a
personal space, I think. And then contrary to that, there’s a lot of exciting work going on in the live space too. People are, again, just looking at ways, we’ve seen this week actually
Amazon building a bricks, what do they call it? A clicks and mortar retail store. Even they see a need to actually bring back
the traditional values. And I think that face-to-face element
which live elements, I mean, you and I, James, we’re here today with our faces in front of the camera. I think people want to see the backstory, they want to know who they are who’s actually giving the advice, and I think that live element, using content to really enhance the story, enhance your brand communication, it then enables to
actually get at the front in face to face. That for me are the
most exciting elements. – That’s a great note to end on. – I love face to face. – Catherine, thank you ever
so much for joining me today. – You’re very welcome. – And if you enjoyed watching and you’d like to learn
more insights and wisdom from some of the greatest
and most interesting minds in B2B marketing every week, then please do follow our page now or subscribe to the podcast. You can also visit The414.net
to watch previous episodes. I’m James Rostance. Thanks for watching.

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