Show 27 – B2B Demand Generation
Russell Goldsmith was joined in the studio by Katy Howell, CEO of Immediate Future, and Joel Harrison, Editor-in-chief of B2B Marketing, plus Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of Annuitas, and Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, joined us on the line from the US.
Joe, Carlos and Katy had all presented at Joel’s B2B Marketing Summit in June, each talked in turn about their sessions.
Joe was first up and he talked on the topic of ‘A Proven, Strategic Model for Successful B2B Content Marketing’, which he explained was about how to build an audience that knows, likes and trusts a company before they even want to buy the product or services that it offers. Joel said that B2B Enterprises are creating more B2B content than we have ever had before but rather than adding to the clutter, they need to better consider the audience they are trying to reach and what value they can add, outside of the products and services they offer. His viewpoint is therefore not to just always focus on creating leads, but first of all to build an audience of subscribers who want to get your information, and then drive opportunities and leads. Be believes that too many B2B companies are in it for the short term and that you will be more successful if you see it as a long term process.
In Carlos’ presentation at the conference, he highlighted some of the findings from the latest Annuitas Enterprise B2B Demand Generation Study, within which it stated that less than 3% of B2B marketing executives said they were highly successful in accomplishing their demand generation goals. He therefore agrees with Joe and added that whilst there are a lot of content producers, do we have true content marketers/demand generation marketers?
Carlos highlighted the fact that in B2B, we have consensus buying, with up to five individuals who are part of a buying committee [see The Consensus Sale], each with their own bias. People can access any type of information on the company and product, including down to an individual sales person. He also made the point that buyers are so interconnected, plus we can do peer to peer networking without having to meet each other via LinkedIn in Twitter, yet what we see all the time are marketing organisations that continue to bifurcate, as we have email teams, web teams, event teams and sales marketing teams, yet very rarely to we see a marketing organisation that is aligned to a buying process. To move in that direction, i.e. change management, and to do it well, especially at a cultural level, Carlos believes you are looking at a two to three year initiative. However, what he finds is that a lot of executives don’t have that staying power or patience and so it resorts to the quick fix.
For Katy, one key part of the Demand Gen journey that most brands don’t even consider is Social Media although for her, it’s about Paid Social and targeting, the latter being something she doesn’t believe B2B brands are good enough at. Without taking anything away from the creative, she feels that inevitably, we can get so fixated on the creativity and the content that we forget about the distribution, yet that science bit – the data – is essential, as this helps you to be in the right place at the right time for your customers.
The discussion continued highlighting some favourite case studies of each of the guests and Katy kicked it off talking about a small six week campaign Immediate Future had carried out for Thomson Reuters on the Commodities Market. Katy explained that their aim was to reach those traders who are involved in commodities only, so they had to work out which channels and platforms to find them. However, more important was briefing Reuters on the content Immediate Future needed them to create to reach those individuals, which they call ‘shattering for social’, i.e., making as much content as possible in a variety of formats from videos to infographics to [editorial] copy, testing as much as they possibly could, optimising quickly. The result was increasing demand gen for that segment by 1178%.
Joe unfortunately couldn’t share the client name of his B2B manufacturing case study, but he described how the company was creating content for 16 different channels without seeing much success. They therefore concentrated on creating relevant content on one main channel, which was their blog, and two secondary ones, focussing on email subscribership as their main KPI. Email is something that Joe still believes is important to creating success for B2B companies because his concern at leverage followers and fans on social platforms is that you don’t control them, it’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter who control them and who can change the algorithm at any point that is required to reach them, whereas you do have control over your email mailing list – you just have to break through all the clutter. According to Joe, the big catastrophe in B2B marketing is that most B2B email newsletters are terrible, something that Joel thinks is a huge opportunity for so many people.
They key learning from Joe’s case study in his opinion is that the company that he was involved with is actually creating less content than it was before, but that they are more focussed. He believes that sometimes you have to simplify and go small and work where you can be the leading expert in something, instead of just throwing massive amounts of content out there.
The case study that Carlos shared was for PR Newswire, who had previously been going to market with a very product centric approach. Carlos said they had to take a buyer centric view and that it was about the alignment of, what Annuitas calls ‘people, process, content and then technology’ along with Data, and after putting that in place, they saw a 22% increase in engaged leads, a 7% increase in qualified leads and a 7% increase in closed sales, driven by marketing.[Read Annuitas’ full PR Newswire Case Study]
If you want to read more from my guests then try out the following:
- Carlos’ book – Driving Demand: Transforming B2B Marketing to Meet the Needs of the Modern Buyer
- Joe’s book – Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses
- Katy’s Immediate Future blog
- Joel’s magazine – B2B Marketing
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Many thanks to markettiers for hosting and recording the show.