B2B content marketers: are you a cook or a chef?

I recently presented at the Intrigue Digital Marketing Summit in Melbourne. My keynote, Turning Content and Inbound Marketing into your Strategic Lead Generator, covered the importance of knowing your customer, delivering a personalised experience, and creating compelling content.

My five key takeaways

  1. Know your customers and communicate personally with them
  2. Consider the entire customer journey and experience – not just your single campaign
  3. Invest in creating content that matters – purposeful, targeted and fresh
  4. Engage your employees and customers to facilitate organic peer-to-peer marketing
  5. Become a chef and add a new ingredient to every piece of content you create

Watch the video of my presentation

Five-minute summary of my 25-minute presentation

This is the basic process of how content and inbound marketing works in lead generation. Through online and offline content, we reach and engage people in our target market to come to our website, tell us who they are, and allow us to nurture them through to conversion.

Looks easy, doesn’t it? However, there are a few challenges we face.

I spoke about content shock, a coin termed by Mark Schaefer in 2014. Mark argued the amount of available content is exploding infinitely while our human capacity to absorb it is limited and finite.

Humans currently consume about 12 hours of content daily. Can we consume more? Probably not. Meanwhile, the volume of free content is exploding at a ridiculous rate – the amount of information on the web is expected to increase by 500% (conservatively) in the next five years. As supply far outweighs demand, effective content marketing is becoming more and more expensive.

So, how do we cut through the noise? How do we reach and engage people who are overwhelmed with content?

I shared key findings from our B2B Marketing Research (BMR) Report 2018, including this one:

48% of B2B marketers have not developed personas or undertaken customer journey mapping. Click To Tweet

This means one in two B2B marketers do not know who they are targeting.

I also shared a personal story about my customer experience in a considered purchase with an Australian university. Basically, we need to really understand our customers, integrate our data and personalise the experience. We need to micro-target and get personal – macro targeting simply won’t cut it anymore.

I talked about creating compelling content that matters. It used to be that we needed to think like media companies. Mark Schaefer says we’re not in the publishing business, we’re in the fashion business. I decided the best analogy is that we need to think like chefs.

When I Googled to see if anyone else had thought of this brilliant analogy – of course they had: Tim Urban. A man who writes about the magic behind Elon Musk’s greatness. And Jay Acunzo applied this to content marketers.

The analogy is simple: people sit on a spectrum between being cooks — those who rely on recipes — and chefs — those who create original recipes by using the rawest ingredients and building up from there. The best chefs take both old and new ingredients and create something new, something fresh.

So how can we become chefs? I proposed three new ingredients B2B marketers can add to their content to cut through the noise.

Other languages

The first new ingredient is using a language other than English. English is losing its relevance on the web – about 50% of the world’s internet users are now based in Asia. Of the world’s internet users, Mandarin speakers are now the second largest language group after English. We’re working with several clients, including Korn Ferry and USG Boral Australia, to produce marketing materials in languages other than English.

This example is for plasterers and tradespeople at USG Boral Australia. Many of them speak English as their second language, so we’re creating product information in their first language. This example is simple Mandarin. I think we’ll be seeing more multilingual content as part of integrated content and inbound marketing campaigns in Australia.

Fresh stories

What made Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes such a powerful piece of content? Of course, it had all the elements that make viral content. It had celebrities, it offered a solution to a shared problem – #Oprah2020, anyone? – and it leveraged popular campaigns, namely #metoo and #TimesUp. But what it made so moving?

I think what made Oprah’s speech so effective is that she told us two stories we had never heard before. Like any great chef, she added two new ingredients to create something fresh and powerful. The first story was about a little girl in 1964 watching a black man receive the award she would later receive. It was Oprah’s story. She was making history. It was inspiring, personal and hopeful.

The second story was about Recy Taylor in 1944, made particularly relevant by the fact she had died 10 days prior to the awards. Recy’s story was sad and horrifying and shocking.

Both stories moved us in different ways. They stayed with us. And that’s what our content needs to do. Our stories need to be fresh and move people. As hard as it is in a world where it feels like everything has already been said, we need to say something new. What is the story we can tell?

New technologies

The third fresh ingredient is new technologies. And again, we’ll see more of this. For example, in the BMR 2018, we’ve incorporated augmented reality to provide additional exclusive content for our readers. This video shows a brilliant example of the new ingredient being new technology. This campaign is so fresh, innovative and inspiring.

I left delegates with this challenge:

  • Can we include a fresh ingredient in every piece of content we create?
  • Do we know exactly who we are cooking for?
  • Can we become chefs rather than cooks?

If you’d like speak to us about your Content and Inbound Marketing, you can call me on 03 9290 9777 or email me at summerg@green-hat.com.au.



Comments (2)

  1. Great work Summer and I totally agree that macro targeting will do nothing but add to the noise. Micro targeting on the other hand will create a hell of a lot more work, but in the end you develop better relations and more leads turn into clients quicker. The LinkedIn timeline actually confirms what you’re saying – there is hardly anything compelling in there. Most of it is chest beating and more advertising. What really misses is essence – I don’t even believe that there are many LinkedIn members (and this is true for SM as well) still expecting any essence. Going back to micro targeting, I’m convinced that organisations will be able to get their audience back and retain them. Still, a hell of a lot more work. ;-)

    • Summer Goodwin

      Hi Volker, thanks for taking the time to comment. Personalising content is definitely the way to go but yes, agreed, a lot harder than pushing out content to a mass audience! It will be interesting to see how approaches to customer experience evolve in the coming years, as behaviour-based and location-based micro targeting via mobile device becomes the norm. We’ll be seeing some very innovative creative campaigns leveraging new technologies too! Watch this space.


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