In the leadup to the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC 2016, I took the opportunity to speak with GE’s Vice President of Brand & Communications for GE Australia & New Zealand, Emma Rugge-Price about B2B content marketing and what it means to move from “interruption to interaction”.

Emma-Rugge-Price-GE-Australia-New-Zealand-Speaking-B2B-Marketing-Leaders-Forum-2016400x400Gavin Heaton: GE has taken a novel approach to content. Was there a trigger that prompted this?

Emma Rugge-Price: Our approach developed out of a shift in thinking in 2012-13 on the back of GE’s global growth strategy. We asked ourselves how we could become a global company rather than just a multinational company. A core part of that is building brand awareness in each market around what takes place in that market.

So we started out with locally developed creative above the line campaigns. It’s expensive to do that, but not just expensive –  it’s challenging to be true to the brand.

At the same time, the media world was being disrupted, opening up new opportunities for creative content development and distribution. We launched a global media manifesto in 2013, which challenged us all to ‘think like a publisher’. This drove our content strategy.

Gavin Heaton: B2B marketing is often seen as B2C’s unsexy cousin. But GE has been bringing a cool factor to their content program – what is the secret?

Emma Rugge-Price: B2B may appear unsexy but it can also be very cool. Maybe it’s B2C’s SMARTER cousin, able to find compelling ways to influence what are often long and complex sales cycles.

Our media manifesto challenges us to shift our marketing focus from ‘interruption to integration and interaction” and it’s one of the themes of my presentation at the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum.

We have been co-creating content with publishers locally to reach our audience where they are consuming information, entertainment and media so that we are part of the conversation on the issues that matter to Australia. And, because GE works across so many critical industries, we bring substance and authenticity to those issues and those publishers. We augment that local content with what is often surprising and always innovative global content that showcases the brand with a-ha moments. This means that we can adapt big brand content, combine it with local content and business opportunity – to connect the dots for our customers and our business.

I think the secret to cool is that we like to be first – the copycats are rarely the cool ones. This means first with content ideas but also channels like SnapChat, WeChat, even Facebook back in the day.

Gavin Heaton: ROI is always a constant question for B2B marketers. How can marketers think differently to connect content to the bottom line?

Emma Rugge-Price: In B2B the sales cycles are long and the deals are complex, so you don’t get “click to buy” opportunities available to B2C. Our approach has been to create a halo around the customer as part of the sales process. For example, we used our content strategy to support positioning and business development in renewable energy to great effect. We partnered with the AFR to create some fantastic content and drive a dialogue for the industry which supported our local business strategy. It’s the holy grail – moving from content to the bottom line.

The B2B Marketing Leaders Forum 2016 runs 25-27 May in Sydney, Australia. It equips B2B marketers with the skills to cut through the technology hype and keep up with the many changes in digital disruption, industry and societal change and learn strategies for turning their departments into revenue generating machines.