Don’t be afraid to develop content with a viewpoint. That was one of the messages of the Digital Deal Makers Panel at the B2B Content2Conversion event.
“When developing content, find a non-standard point of view and defend it,” said panelist Mark Wilson, CMO of Avaya. “Content marketing must be simple, unexpected, offer credibility, have a motive and tell a story.”
Wilson said that the best content provokes a two-way communication with potential buyers. “Find ways to get in on the conversation,” Wilson said, adding not to be afraid to be "a little snarky” in the digital space.
“Powerful brands have a voice,” agreed panelist Tami Cannizzaro, Industry Solutions, Director of Marketing for IBM. “It is important to develop a voice and make sure that everything you do reflects that voice.”
Digital content offers a myriad of ways to tell a story, said Lori Feldman, Head of Social Networking and Digital Strategy for Cigna International. “Think pictures and graphics. Graphics resonate globally.”
Cannizzaro added that the digital nature of today’s content provides marketers wtih a clearer vision of what buyers want to read and watch. “The beauty of digital is the picture it offers of your audience. You can see what your customers and prospective customers are interested in and what adjacencies they are interested in, not only when they are on your web site but when they leave your web site.”
Feldman said understanding your target audience is key to creating content that connects. “You cannot overestimate the importance of listening. Think like a publisher; be an educator. Your audience is looking for insights. Tell, don't sell.”
It is also important to understand customers’ and buyers’ preferences for receiving content, Cannizzaro said. “Some people might welcome an email every morning, while some might consider it spam.”
Moderator Margaret Molloy, CMO for Velocidi, a digital marketing firm, added: “Marketers have to listen, engage and measure.”
Turn Customers Into Advocates
Molloy said that not only holds true for prospects but for current customers. “As B2B marketers, we need users to continue to use our products and buy other products. To make that happen, the customer has to be an advocate and I see customers taking on a new importance in the sales funnel.”
Avaya’s Wilson suggested talking to the sales team as well as customers and prospects about what they are not getting from the current content.
But creating killer content is only half the battle, the panelists noted. Feldman said: “To get to the point of revenue, marketers must not forget the point of sharing content. If we're not all sharing in this digital world, we're doing ourselves a disservice.”
Wilson added: “Great content doesn’t distribute itself.” Mobile is now more popular that physical content.
It all comes down to revenue, the panelists concluded. “I don't care how many people are tweeting, not tweeting, etc. At the end of the day, we're here to drive revenue,” said Wilson. “Some of the newer forms of content might be a little harder to calculate in terms of return, but we have to do it.”
It is also a matter of shifting investments. “You can retrain and redeploy your resources,” she said, noting that rather than spending $30,000 on a color brochure you may put the money toward video, or use a white paper as a jumping off point for some shorter video content. “It really is a matter of looking at how you can rework what you have today. There is this fear that there will be a lack of content, but that’s not the case.”
Cannizzaro added: “Repeat, reuse and retell a story again and again in a different way.”
A special thanks to everyone who joined us at this year's B2B Content2Conversion Conference. For all those interested in viewing a recording of this session and others, please click here.