B2B Marketing Challenges (notes from the CMA’s Digital Breakfast)

From the B2B Digital Breakfast, hosted by CMA (Content Marketing Association). The full post is here.

August’s Digital Breakfast took a well-established format into largely uncharted territory. For the first time, it focused exclusively on B2B content – a move that clearly struck a chord with a large and engaged audience.

The last person to present was Giuseppe Caltabiano, Head of Content Marketing Advisory Services, NewsCred

He began his presentation by asking ‘Is B2B still boring to Boring?’ He said that when it comes to data Vs emotions the perception is that B2B is more boring. This however doesn’t have to be the case with Giuseppe citing LinkedIn’s Dinner for Five series.

Giuseppe added that historically B2B requires a more rational approach, but that new technologies, new communications channels (social media) are changing the way B2B companies approach clients. And in some ways the new methods of communication, which includes content marketing, have been adopted by B2B companies at faster speed than B2C.

In terms of messaging Giuseppe pointed out that was a real difference between the content marketing approaches. He said that B2B content should inform and educate, while B2C content should inspire.

Another important point that Guiseppe made was that multiple influencers are involved in a B2B decision – something that is not always the case in B2C. There maybe as many four different departments involved in a  decision making process and one of the complexities of B2B marketing is that content needs to address all these individuals and sectors effectively.

Yet one advantage B2B has over B2C is that there is a more limited number of platforms to use. As Giuseppe explained, the distribution channels are not endless. In reality there is really only three or four that are efficient.

Giuseppe then unpacked the B2B content distribution plan citing the importance of, and difference between, owned, paid and earned media.

He also advised caution in companies selecting the right KPIs as these are different along the different points of the sales process.

He also discussed how companies shouldn’t write off different platforms – perceiving them as being just B2B or B2C. For example, there is now a number of B2B companies that use tactics like Facebook Live to illustrate the human side of their business.

Finally Giuseppe went onto nail what he sees as the two most prevalent myths about B2B content.

Firstly that the ‘humans have lesser attention span than that a goldish,’ he argued that this isn’t the case and anyhow should not be used as an argument to dumb down content.

Secondly “buyers are 67% (or 57%, or 90%) of the way through the purchase journey before they want to talk to a supplier (or to sales)”

If you work in B2B marketing, you’ll have been told that buyers are either 57%, 67% or (more recently) 90% of the way through the purchase journey before they want to talk to a supplier. Giuseppe argued that the basis for at least two of these stats is actually very thin and has been so widely misrepresented.

B2B Marketing Digital Breakfast: select the topics you want to learn

Are you a fellow B2B Marketer? Want to learn more about Content Marketing for B2B but… have no time for learning – with the exception of a couple of hours in the early morning? Do you live in London?

Well, here is a potential outline of what I’m planning to present next week @ the CMA Digital Breakfast “B2B Marketing Challenges”. Very flexible agenda. If you have any topics you’d love to suggest and to discuss together let me know using the comments and I’ll cover the arguments you selected. Well, still focus on B2B Content Marketing please; I won’t accept things like “can you please talk about the last 50 years of politics of the Greenwich council?” or “How to cook the perfect lasagna?”. With all the rest: I’ll do my best to accept any inputs.

  • Agenda
  • Who is the speaker, who is Newscred
  • Emotions vs. Data ~ B2C vs. B2B
  • Is B2B still “Boring 2 Boring”?
  • Personas & buyer journey
  • B2B content distribution
  • Content Hubs
  • B2B ROI and KPIs
  • B2B & B2C convergence
  • B2B Myths
  • Conclusions

Thanks.

Content Marketing Strategy series for large B2B and B2C enterprises

Content Marketing Strategy for B2B and B2C enterprises

Short summary of where I am with my strategy series posts. While most of it has been created with a clear B2B vision in mind, the Content Marketing programs I am following in NewsCred can confirm that the majority of it is 100% applicable to B2C cases.

Here is the latest list:

Global Content Marketing at 360º

One of the reasons of my move from a tech brand to NewsCred was the opportunity to be exposed to the strategy behind thousand different content marketing programs. Well, maybe not really thousands, but definitely enough to satisfy my curiosity. This week I have been visiting a few of the customers whose programs I will personally follow. Different sectors, different domains, same complex cross-regional content marketing cases.

The first, about technology and IT infrastructure, is already considered one of the best B2B content marketing cases of all times. The funny thing is, it was one of my models when I led Content Strategy for my former firm. Now I’ll follow the case directly.

The second has all prerequisites in place to become a great cross-regional case for B2C, in the Insurances sector.

So a great week. And in addition I had the chance to spend a few hrs in Milan with Asia and Maya. And this, quite frankly, was worth the entire trip.

Content chronicles

First two weeks in NewsCred: amazing experience so far, lots of learning, but starting to put my content marketing experience at disposal of accounts/marketers too. Definition of a global/local model and a general content strategy seem the most common challenges so far. Planning a second (long) trip to NY in May.

Also, contributing to finalize next NewsCred’s Big Rock content (yeah, NewsCred launches Big Rocks too!); and writing for NewsCred Insights’s blog. My next post will cover one of the steps of the overall content strategy: “Target persona and buyer journey”. It will be live in a couple of weeks.

Here is a summary of my strategy posts:

Step 1: The Case for Change
Step 2: Finding the Optimal Balance Between Central and Local
Step 3: (Editorial Process) Why your Company needs an Editorial Board to empower its Content Strategy
Step 4: Defining Global/Local Target Personas
Step 5: Selecting a Content Hub – why Blogs are still at the core of your Content Marketing Strategy
Step 6: Selecting a Content Marketing Platform
Step 7: Launching Big Rock content
Step 8: Content Distribution
Step 9: How to integrate Public Relations with your B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Step 10: Launching an Internal Communications Strategy
Step 11: Piloting Your Content Marketing Strategy
Step 12: Finally, Going Global

Why Enterprises need a Content Marketing Platform to address content chaos

I have been designing content marketing strategy in large B2B enterprises for the last few years. If I have to list the top challenges I have had with its implementation there is no doubt that the first was a missing Content Marketing Software Platform. Other major challenges were, in order: 1) setting up proper analytic and 2) moving our content strategy from central pilots to global deployment (see my post on NewsCred Insights).

Our complex marketing technology stack, heritage of endless company acquisitions and integration, miss in fact this critical piece: we had to invest a relevant amount of time thinking at how to replace all processes and functions that a content marketing platform could offer: content creation, content curation, planning, editorial calendar, workflow management, publishing, internal and external content distribution, analytics, and last but not least, intelligence.

There has been a mind-numbing proliferation of technology vendors and solutions to address the needs of content and digital marketers in the last few years. For instance, Curata’s content marketing tools map has increased from 40 to over 130 vendors in its most recent version. NewsCred too has helped navigating across the ocean of marketing technologies with one of its latest posts. Mergers and acquisitions have contributed to make things even more complex.

Now, let’s go back to the basics for a moment, and let’s define what a content marketing platform is. The latest Forrester’s Wave report on Content Marketing Platforms (end of 2015) provides some clarity (note: the report has restricted access).

To address this challenge (the challenge of the enterprise’s content chaos), several technology vendors have developed a single software platform for all involved parties to collaborate on the strategy behind the content and its planning, creation, and distribution; these are called content marketing platforms (CMPs):
 
[Definition] Content marketing platforms are solutions that help marketing teams collaborate on a content strategy, orchestrate the numerous, concurrent streams of activity by content creators, curators, and distributors inside and outside of the company, and optimize downstream cross-channel distribution to key audiences.

Forrester Wave’s report further clarifies the need for a CMP: CMPs, the report affirms, are a “nascent category of marketing technology stack”, and are quickly growing to provide:

  • A single environment for teams to collaborate on content for all phases of customer life cycle
  • A replacement for Excel and email and facilitate collaboration across organizational silos
  • A place to aggregate data, content, and metrics from many sources

A Content Marketing Platform is this, and much more. CMPs act as a glue among several enterprise technologies managing content, distribution, analytics, pipeline (which is in general the primary goals of all B2B marketers) and insights, one of the new frontiers for such kind of software platforms. It is clear why CMPs have a central role and integrate several pieces of the marketing technology stack.

Where a CMP is supposed to be located within a full marketing stack? Curata introduces the “Emergence of the Content Marketing Platform”:

Sales Force Automation platforms fuel revenue by tracking and supplying sales opportunities and leads. Marketing Automation Platforms drive Sales Force Automation by supplying marketing qualified leads. But what drives the marketing activities and leads of Marketing Automation Platforms? Content. Like a car without gas, marketing automation can’t get very far without content. Content is needed for everything from a website (which is tracked by marketing automation), to email campaigns, to even pay-per-click landing page offers.

Many of today’s content marketers have little accountability and transparency in terms of how their content is performing. Their content is often warehoused and stored in multiple disparate systems and spreadsheets. That’s why a CMP is required.

Now, regardless the market studies you will look at and the marketing domain you belong to (business or consumer) content marketers have common evergreen challenges (source: Curata):

  • Limited budget for staff and program spend;
  • Creating enough quality content on a regular basis, whether in-house or externally sourced;
  • Distributing content across multiple channels, including publication and promotion;
  • Measuring the impact of content, i.e., what works and what doesn’t work to drive awareness, leads and sales enablement.

CMPs help marketers addressing all of them.

Back to my past experience and projects, as soon as we recognized the need for a CMP for our organization, we started to list all requirements for the “perfect CMP”. We segmented the requirements in six main categories, which I list here below. Using this simple and repeatable methodology, we evaluated several vendors.

(Download the CMP requirements in table format)

1) Content Development and Workflow Management

  • Workflow management capabilities
  • Ability to create different workflows based on content type and link those worklows to campaigns
  • Ability to view all assets & status of assets related to a specific campaign
  • Attach to asset and campaign name additional information such as persona, asset type, brand attribute
  • Ability to send emails to content owners, content requestor or project managers about changing status of developed asset
  • Ability to send emails to task owners informing them of task and work assigned
  • Ability to provide workflow capabilities for translation and associate workflow to master assets, campaigns etc.

2) Editorial Calendar

  • Editorial calendar management
  • Capability to view content development requests by content type, campaign and persona, where contributors can view tasks assigned
  • Ability to share internally the editorial calendar
  • Ability to view production and publication calendars

3) Content Management

  • WYSIWYG editor for direct publishing, meeting requirements to publish to blogs and major social media platforms
  • Ability to manage all content development requests: ebook, infographic, whitepapers, rich media content

4) Integration with existing stack and Distribution functionality

  • Ideally connect to company’s DAM to pick up imagery and post content
  • Ability to integrate with blog platforms (e.g. WordPress)
  • Ability to connect to existing email platforms for content to be emailed as part of newsletter
  • Ability to integrate with corporate web CMS
  • Ability to connect to Marketing Automation platforms (e.g. Marketo, Eloqua, etc.) for reporting information as well as to send content to be distributed via email or on landing page
  • Ability to connect to CRMs (e.g. SalesForce)
  • Ability to connect to social media publishing tools (e.g. Sprinklr)
  • Sales enablement: ability to provide shared content to sales

5) Analytics and Insights

  • Content Performance – Content Pipeline contribution
  • Top performing content list by persona, by campaign , by brand attribute
  • Amplification and engagement rate on content whether or not we use the CMP platform for distribution
  • Internal consumption: which content assets are most used by sales and in which part of the buying process
  • Localization rate: how many content assets have been internally consumed and localized
  • External consumption: which content are customers consuming in which part of the buying cycle
  • Insights and recommendations

6) Mobile app

  • Availability as app for Smartphones and Tablets

There is not a single way to evaluate the best fit for your organization. All starts with your company/division objectives. In our case support for our content marketing strategy and in addition integration with the existing stack, support to existing internal processes and analytics were the main goals and then main criteria for selection.

A few months ago I created a comprehensive post outlining an twelve-step Content Marketing strategy. That’s exactly what the implementation of a CMP will support.

Step 1: The Case for Change
Step 2: Finding the Optimal Balance Between Central and Local
Step 3: Editorial Process- the Content Editorial Board and the Content Ecosystem
Step 4: Global and local audience persona, buyer journey and content map
Step 5: Alignment with your company’s Brand story
Step 6: Selecting a Content Hub and Content Marketing Platform
Step 7: Distribution channel strategy – distribution and amplification
Step 8: The POEM Model -Paid drives Owned which drives Earned Media (aka: How to integrate Public Relations with your B2B Content Marketing Strategy)
Step 9: Launching an Internal Communications Strategy
Step 10: Piloting Your Content Marketing Strategy
Step 11: Measurement and Optimization
Step 12: Finally, Going Global

A CMP will definitely address and support most of the points above, and as a consequence, the overall content strategy.

One more piece of the B2B Content Marketing Strategy series

A few days ago I wrote the post “How to integrate Public Relations into your B2B Content Marketing strategy“, which is an additional piece of my broader series about Global B2B Content Marketing Strategy, dissected in 13 steps (I know, I should change that number; I will add or remove some of the steps…):

Step 1: The Case for Change
Step 2: Finding the Optimal Balance Between Central and Local
Step 3: (Editorial Process) Why your Company needs an Editorial Board to empower its Content Strategy
Step 4: Defining Local Target Personas
Step 5: Selecting a Content Hub – why Blogs are still at the core of your Content Marketing Strategy
Step 6: Selecting a Content Marketing Platform
Step 7: Launching Big Rock content
Step 8: Content Distribution
Step 9: How to integrate Public Relations with your B2B Content Marketing Strategy
Step 10: Launching an Internal Communications Strategy
Step 11: Educating Marketers About Your Content Marketing Program
Step 12: Piloting Your Content Marketing Strategy
Step 13: Finally, Going Global

In addition, here are a few short summaries, for readers who will prefer shorter/faster readings:

B2B Content Marketing Strategy guide in 10 easy steps

How to Launch a B2B, Cross-Regional Global Content Marketing Strategy – published on NewsCred’s Insights in November 2016

globe

How Content Increased the Effectiveness of Our B2B Enterprise Marketing by 3x – published on Contently’s Content Strategist blog

B2B_content_journey

Why your Company needs an Editorial Board to empower its Content Strategy

Editorial boards are an old tradition at newspapers. In today’s digital marketing world, brands’ content editorial boards aren’t quite as influential but still serve a critical role in content marketing strategy. The post “Why your Company needs an Editorial Board to empower its Content Strategy” explains why and how to set up central and local editorial boards and is a subset of the broader post How to Launch a B2B, Cross-Regional Global Content Marketing Strategy – published on NewsCred’s Insights in November 2016.

The original plan in fact was to dissect the main post in several other more detailed sub-posts, to take a deeper look at individual pieces of a Global Content Strategy:

Step 1: Finding the Optimal Balance Between Central and Local
Step 2: Why your Company needs an Editorial Board to empower its Content Strategy
Step 3: Defining Local Target Personas
Step 4: Selecting a Content Hub
Step 5: Launching an Internal Communications Strategy
Step 6: Educating Marketers About Your Content Marketing Program
Step 7: Piloting Your Content Marketing Strategy
Step 8: Finally, Going Global