It’s been a while since I wrote a blog that wasn’t borne of a client’s goals, but every piece of content starts somewhere. And that’s the point of this blog (in case you miss it)
Every organisation is different, but fundamentally there’s an imperative to drive forward an agenda from within the business and a need to address the agenda of the wider market or world.
To my mind, one of the biggest challenges for b2b organisations in recent years is reconciling this push-pull, and here are some of the reasons why.
Take a global software company, for example. It might place the owned blog content firmly in field marketing. If you’re a lone field marketer and you sit in a regional office next to the GM, CRO or Head of sales there’s pressure to shout about what’s selling at the time – and demonstrate ROI with a direct call to action for the reader to “buy” an asset with their contact details.
Meanwhile, such a business might outsource aspects of demand generation or it could be distributed across global corporate communications and marketing communications teams. Between marketing agencies helping deliver digital campaigns, PR agencies and the internal roles – each with natural instincts, KPIs and pressure to deliver the status quo – the song remains the same.
External relations / comms: “We know what’s happening, and we weave our story into the surrounding narratives.”
Weapon of choice: The article, press release, briefing or comment
Marcomms: “We know what we need to say, across which company channels, and when to execute our corporate strategy”
Weapon of choice: The email, blog, brochure, social media
Field marketing: “We know what mechanisms have converted customers in the sales team’s pipeline and we need activity across out sales channels that delivers high quality leads.”
Weapon of choice: The ebook, report, webinar or roadshow
And therein lies the paradox: to truly stand out in today’s landscape requires an edge. Perhaps it always did, but there are slim pickings for b2b technology marketers today that don’t find ways to stand out, or content strategies that find resonance with their audience at the right time and in the right place.
There’s no revolution, or single solution to making these moving pieces come together but there are some underlying trends.
- Content marketing, in its purest sense has been building momentum for a few years. With it, the principles of community and value are often at odds with field marketing and existing ROI models. Heightened awareness of data privacy has pushed more companies in this direction. Permission-based marketing embodies this chance, and the necessity to throttle overzealous marketing automation
- Influencer marketing in its many forms has gained credibility and become more valued by marketers (vs just comms) as community advocacy and word of mouth has become a valuable way to cut through noise and replace conventional channels
- Agility is important because events and news cycles are shorter than ever. A potential wildfire can be a very short fizzle if you don’t reach enough potential audience. If you’re relying on a corporate email database to blast a piece of home-brewed content then you could well be left with a damp squib (resend anyone?)
I’m not trying to be a visionary, because there are many brands out there doing great things. But the reality of the daily grind is that it’s only by taking a step back that we can begin to appreciate the art of collaboration and the benefits of experimentation. Just like the software developer sitting across the table from a sysadmin one day saying “hey what could we achieve if we talked about how my dev code affects your server ops” – see how your brand can apply its nimble and connected comms team to engage its audience in new and effective ways that invigorate the whole marketing team.
It’s tough for a b2b brand to stand out and attract new leads. Relevance, resonance and timeliness are the key – so why are marketing teams stuck in a loop?
More on happy marketing families in my next blog – building and dynamic campaign engine, where I will unpick some of the prerequisites and success factors for a more agile content bandwagon.