B2B Marketing Leader Interviews: Andrew Cornell, Managing Editor, ANZ BlueNotes

In the leadup to the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC 2016, I took the opportunity to speak with the Andrew Cornell, Managing Editor of BlueNotes, the ANZ newsroom about brand publishing, strategy and content.

Gavin Heaton: Earlier this year, eConsultancy published an article saying that the trend of brands becoming publishers is a nonsense. But BlueNotes has found success. What are the top three things that you are doing differently?

Andrew Cornell: Having worked in the traditional media for 30 years, I’d describe Fairfax and News as brand publishers too – a minority of their actual revenue comes from either subscriptions or direct purchase of articles. Audiences too, particularly when not familiar with the mastheads, have no pre-conceptions. The critical elements are audience understanding and quality content. So for BlueNotes, the three things are:

  • Truly understand your audience and what they value (and how they want to get their content)
  • Provide actually compelling content – which can’t be marketing or direct promotion. It needs to be thought leadership (as it has long been with Economic and business research the traditional media has always used)
  • Ensuring BlueNotes looks interesting in its own right, not as a “brand” site, although we’re clear our “publisher” is ANZ.


Gavin Heaton: At the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum there is a theme of linking marketing with the bottom line. What does that mean for BlueNotes – and perhaps as importantly – what does that mean for ANZ?

Andrew Cornell: For ANZ BlueNotes is a kind of online weekly magazine version of the thought leadership the bank has always done with economic research report, industry insights and major analyses like Greener Pastures and Caged Tiger, our long studies of the agricultural opportunity and the transformation of the Asian financial system. The “marketing” advantage for ANZ is reputational, not direct sell. This is a bank that is innovative with content, authoritative and able to provide genuine insights


Gavin Heaton: Where would a CMO start with a program like BlueNotes? Is it strategy? Is it vision? And what would you recommend?

Andrew Cornell: Start where any good journalism needs to start: who is the audience? How do they get their information? What do they want? Each is necessary. The content especially has to be authentic, genuinely insightful and valuable in its own right – audiences increasingly source information from multiple sites and mastheads so there needs to be a reason to come back – and that’s quality.

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.

B2B Marketing Leader Interviews: Emma Rugge-Price

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.

After the Spark of Innovation Comes the Grind of Transformation

For the  corporate entrepreneur or intrapreneur, innovation is seductive. It’s the nod and a wink that catches your attention out of the corner of your eye. Often, by the time that you’ve doubled back to start a conversation, it has disappeared into the corporate ether.

But that glance holds you in thrall. You know that despite the allure of bright and shiny projects, it’s the riskier, opportunities that will draw you back in.

And yet, while innovation continues to attract us, the real value accrues to the organisation that systematically absorbs that innovation and disperses it not just in new product and service offerings. This means taking the spark of innovation and allowing it to light a million fires in the minds of our employees, transforming the culture one idea, project or prototype at a time.

But almost every leadership team makes the same mistake with digital and with innovation. They focus on the technology, forgetting about the people.

This infographic illustrates this exact problem. Sure, digital is disrupting enterprises, but it’s the hard grind of transforming your people and your processes that sees dramatic revenue, cost and consumer experience benefits:

  • Executives expect that by 2020, 47% of sales will be influence by digital
  • BUT:
    • 14% believe they have the right processes
    • 21% have the right culture
    • 21% have the right people.

Which means, there are significant transformation deficits that must be overcome.


B2B Marketing Leader Interviews: Jarther Taylor

In the leadup to the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC 2016, I took the opportunity to speak with Telstra’s GM Marketing, Jarther Taylor about the state of B2B marketing, the challenges that lay ahead, and the surprising ways technology and a focus on customer experience is changing the marketing and sales landscape.


Jarther-Taylor-Telstra-Business-speaking-B2B-Marketing-Leaders-Conference-Sydney-Australia-2016Gavin Heaton: We hear a lot of talk about the “marketing funnel” and the “sales funnel”. In your experience are these becoming one and the same?

Jarther Taylor: There are three factors driving convergence and of the marketing and sales funnel. So, yes they are becoming one and the same.

Firstly, as marketing increasingly digitised it can deliver better quality and more progressed leads at scale.  That is in the past, a B2B marketer may have had a bunch of responses from a DM piece or an event, and sales would then have the explore and develop that basic opportunity.  Today marketing can not only capture interest, but also progress that interest to a point of being ready to buy and then pass to sales to close the deal and help nurture and drive advocacy post-purchase.

Secondly, the buying process (which has replaced the selling process) is non-linear.  Gartner as a good model for this fluid approach of buying – Explore, Evaluate, Engage, Experience.  This fluidity and uncertainty is more culturally acceptable in marketing.  That is marketing leaders understand the customers may shift from being close to ready to buy (Engage) , to back to the Explore phase.  Sales management drives for a steady progression through the funnel, and sales teams are not ‘permitted’ to have an opportunity go from 30% certainty to 70% certainty back to 50%.  Marketing can help ensure that sales resources only engage during Engage!

Thirdly, the importance of customer experience across the buying and usage cycle is increasingly seen as a differentiator.  While at one point, sales was at the end of the line and customers were then exposed to usually less resourced service organisations, this has shifted with the introduction of Net Promoter Scores and the consumerization of business products (e.g. “why can’t my experience with you be more like Uber, AWS, Apple, etc.”).  This means than marketing, who has traditionally been responsible for representing the customer in the organisation, has a far great role to play across marketing, sales and service.

Gavin Heaton: Up to 60% of purchase decisions are made before a buyer reaches out to the brand. How is this changing the work of sales people?

Jarther Taylor: Sales used to be the ‘smartest person in the room’ when it came to B2B selling.  That is, the technical expertise on the product was what customers were after and went to the vendor to get that information.  Today most of the studies that support the 60% number show that digital research and speaking to peers is done well before engaging with the vendor.  I had a discussion with IDC just over a year ago, where they gave me multiple examples of customers wanting to now minimise the amount of time they spent with sales.

So sales need to get engaged earlier on in the piece.  That is, they need to be present in the online forums that customers are doing research in.  Marketing can help this through digital strategies like content marketing and social selling. Social Selling has proven extremely successful both at IBM and Telstra in building advocacy, trust and engagement with customers.

So with customers doing more research and having more knowledge before they get to the sales person, the conversations shift.  Sales need to have the capacity and capability to discuss options with a customer, challenge their thinking and add value to the buying process beyond taking an order.  For many sales organisations this is a major shift in culture, capability and structure.


Gavin Heaton: As consumers, we have become adept online purchasers. We plan and buy our own travel, research our purchases online before shopping around and so on. How is this self-service approach impacting the B2B vendor?

Jarther Taylor: Self-service in B2B tends to reside the in the Experience phase of the buying process I referenced above.  That is, once a commercial relationship between a customer and vendor has been set up, many of the more mundane actions can be done through a self-service portal.  Let’s say I’m an OfficeMax customer, then my office administrators can order approved stationary via an online portal.  Managing your billing or usage of technology via a self-service portal is also popular for many XaaS solutions.  AWS ,for instance, pretty much has it all online.

As a B2B vendor this can potentially mean a loss of engagement opportunities with a customer, but is also means that the engagement can be a lot richer.  For instance, rather mourning the loss to sell additional items in person, usage data of a product can suggest that the next best product is.  So it drives efficiency and also advocacy because you are offering the customer more useful products and solutions.

Another efficiency gain is the post-sales service can be scaled.  That is a contact centre can manage a much larger number of customers in a much more personalised manner.  Customers get better and more relevant marketing, sales and service engagement.  And as a vendor I am keeping my costs down.

Uncertain? You’re Not Alone at Vibewire’s #fastBREAK


If there is one thing that we can all agree upon, it’s that we all feel UNCERTAIN.

It could be about work. Our partners. Our future.

Do you have a calling or a mission? Do you feel out of touch? Let down? Discombobulated?

Chances are, you’re not alone.

In fact, Vibewire’s upcoming fastBREAK breakfast on 27 May at 8am, is your chance to find out just how un-alone you really are. And you can do it by being with others who feel the same uncertainty.

Join me and five great, young leaders as they share their insights into uncertainty at the first fastBREAK event for the year.

It’s FIVE speakers with FIVE minutes to tell their story. You get to meet and mingle with the speakers and audiences, drink coffee and eat breakfast and still be back at work in time for your WIP meeting. Just a couple of the speakers you will see include:

“I like to think of myself as a storyteller, less bad dad jokes more witty, life of the party sort of raconteur. A girl can dream, right?”

Brittany Lee Waller is a freelance writer, editor and content producer. She has spent 8 years working across Gourmet Traveller, Peats Ridge Music Festival, Drinks World Asia, Rare Birds and Nine Network Australia. Brittany founded storytelling site Meet the People because she has always believed that people should be at the essence of everything we do. She likes short walks to the bar and prefers everything to come with a pop culture reference.


Osman Faruqi is the co-founder of MetaPoll. He has worked closely with a number of research firms in Australia as a campaign strategist and political adviser for the Australian Greens. He also has an in-depth understanding of Australia’s media and political landscape as a result of his work as a political journalist, broadcaster and commentator. He likes politics, ice cream, Gossip Girl and nationalising things.

Get your tickets here.

Demand Generation and the New Marketing Order with Carlos Hidalgo

IMG_4215Despite numerous attempts to live stream a discussion on demand generation with author Carlos Hidalgo, I was forced to revert to Plan B. And Plan B involved a cup of coffee, a quiet room and a Skype video call with CEO of the B2B demand strategy firm, Annuitas, and upcoming keynote speaker at the B2B Marketing Leadership Forum in Sydney, Australia. Having read his book – and been heavily involved in B2B marketing most of my career – I was keen to learn some of the insights and approaches that have transformed B2B marketing in the last decade.

Gavin Heaton: In your book, you call out the challenge of B2B marketing training. In my experience we are seeing students graduate from marketing degrees with no clear understanding of B2B. Do you see this too?

Carlos Hidalgo: We are not seeing B2B taught at university. At a recent speech at a local university, a junior asked “what does B2B stand for?”. We are starting to see alternatives. eLearning has become a very useful way of educating people about B2B marketing – with places like eCornell doing a great job.

Gavin Heaton: You also talk about “marketing enablement”. What does that look like? What does it mean?

Carlos Hidalgo: What do we have to invest to make our marketing people succeed? Sales have had enablement and skills training for years. Companies have become very good at sales enablement. But on average, most marketers are self taught. There’s no true marketing enablement within firms. We need to fix that, and there are a few key areas:

  • Truly uncover and diagnose who our buyers are and how they buy
  • Qualitative research – we need to understand this and do it better
  • How to speak to customers about their buying behaviours to uncover insights
  • What are the conditions that push or lead people into a buying path
  • What does and should reporting look like
  • Doing qualitative analysis on reports – after all, the rest of the business runs according to financials, KPIs and metrics
  • Putting together training curriculum – let’s support our marketers
  • We need to document and understand marketing KPIs

We also need a better understanding of our buyers, their behaviour and the way that this impacts our marketing programs.

Remember, marketing is being asked to do things that it’s never done before.

Gavin Heaton: When I speak with CMOs and CIOs, they think the answer is already in place. Technology. Has technology solved the sales-marketing alignment challenge?

Carlos Hidalgo: Technology has made the marketing-sales alignment worse. Often a CMO will say, “We just need to get our martech stack in order.”. But technology is an enabler to a strategy.

We need to retrain sales as they’re not as front and centre as they were 101-5 years ago when information was hard to come by. They don’t need to sell in the same way, but be educators to help their customers think through their problems. The buyer probably already knows more about your products.

Sales need to “unteach the buyer” – so that we can open the conversation and position ourselves as the expert on the challenges that the business is facing.

When it comes to marketing and sales alignment, the problem isn’t alignment at all. They’re not aligned around a “common sense of the customer”. As marketers, we have been taught to think that “sales is your customer”. This is only true when marketing is producing content. Marketing needs to lead sales and help develop a “continuity of conversation” – and that conversation these days is largely digital. The two need to work together to provide that continuity.

Gavin Heaton: You write about demand process transformation. What does that look like?

Carlos Hidalgo: This is about aligning people, process, technology and strategy around the customer. Aligning content by the buyers journey. For those organisations that do this well, we are seeing benchmarks being blown away.

Gavin Heaton: So who decides this kind of transformation is important?

Carlos Hidalgo: Who thinks this is important? Say a VP or CMO. I am seeing more people with the title of VP of Demand Generation. Typically they have marketing automation and up to 15 technologies in place. But no one is closer to the customer. We are not seeing the breakthroughs.

Typically we need someone open to the idea that what is happening now is not good enough. And then they start to look for marketing automation strategy or demand generation strategy. New ways are required to deliver the breakthroughs. It’s about true change management.

Gavin Heaton: What is the role of an external change agent? How useful and when should they be used?

Carlos Hidalgo: When I went out on my own, I consulted back to my old firm. My client presented back the same presentation that I created. What they needed was what I was advocating. External change agents can be the people you can invest in beyond the reach of your firm. They bring important experience across many organisations.

From an internal perspective, you need someone who can be objective and not worry about politics and sacred cows. External change agents are not in the “day to day” so they have a perspective that we can easily miss from the inside. As an employee we are too close.

External change agents are also vital in getting things done. Most clients who say “we’ll do it ourselves” find that 12 months later nothing has happened. .

See Carlos Hidalgo live in Sydney

Remember, you can see Carlos live in Sydney at the B2B Marketing Leadership Forum, and he is running a limited capacity workshop on demand generation on Day 3. Be sure to book in early.

Join Me and Carlos Hidalgo and Meet the Modern Buyer

Marketers are doing more, spending more and creating more – yet only seeing marginal results. These days, B2B marketers need to transform the way they do the work of marketing. It’s about changing culture, thinking about demand generation in a new way and thinking from the outside-in to focus not on what and when we want to sell to customers but to understand how they want to buy.

One of the keynotes at the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC, Carlos Hidalgo and I will be discussing that it takes to be a successful B2B marketer now and in the future. Carlos will also be running a demand generation workshop to help you understand how to integrate strategy and tactics into your ways of working. He shares some of this thinking in this clip below.

Carlos Hidalgo on Driving Demand

Carlos Hidalgo speaks with CEB about many of the key business, marketing and change management issues addressed in his new book, “Driving Demand.” Driving Demand is a book for leaders who want to transform their demand generation & align their people, process, content & technology to their buyers.

In preparation for the forum next month, Carlos will join me for a discussion on demand generation and the modern buyer. You can watch – and maybe even join our discussion live – this Wednesday morning, Sydney time at 7am. Watch the stream live on Blab – or here on my website.

And remember, book-in to the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum. It’s Asia Pacific’s only dedicated B2B marketing conference.

Five Mistakes that Derail Your New Business Efforts

New business development will make or break your business. And agency owners often find themselves suffering a famine or a feast of new business. But there are some common mistakes that can be relatively easily overcome. The Agency Management Institute has a great presentation on this topic, with FIVE clear tips that will help you avoid new business mistakes. And if you want to go into more detail, listen in to their fantastic podcast with Lee McKnight on the subject of new business development.

Investing in the Future of Young People

Through Vibewire I have been working with young people for over seven years. It’s a not for profit association whose aim is to be a launchpad for young change makers. In the time that I have been involved, I have been astounded by the way that, given an opportunity and some nurturing, young people can truly accelerate their professional and personal trajectory. We have run hundreds of events – some large scale and some barely more than a meeting. We have provided project experience and internships for hundreds of people who have gone on bigger and better things. And we have seen dozens of social impact and tech startups incubate, grow and scale.

But it is largely a thankless task. Just as soon as we launch one cohort of young people into the world, another comes along. The challenges remain the same:

  • Lack of opportunity for meaningful work
  • Soft skills require substantial work and support
  • Challenging and entrepreneurial roles are few and far between.

And in many ways, Vibewire’s programs of spaces (coworking for young people), skilling (workshops), startups (mentoring and support) and showcasing (amplifying the work of young people through events and online promotion) have been designed to consistently deliver these outcomes. But it’s difficult to maintain. Hard to attract sponsorship and support. After all, Vibewire has always been youth-led and youth-run, and as such, our teams are constantly learning the ropes. Learning what it takes to build corporate relationships. Learning what it takes to deliver on project promises. Learning the business of creativity and business.

I am often asked what keeps me involved.

My involvement in Vibewire is beautifully summed up in this great speech by Eric Thomas. It’s a gift of love. An investment in the next generation. And a mark of respect for the futures of the young people who come through Vibewire’s doors.

When the App is Free, You are the Product. Swipe Buster Brings a New Level of Reality

How often to we blithely click “ACCEPT” on the terms and conditions of a new website or app, hungry to explore the digital domain before us? How often do we happily hand over personal information without a second thought?

In the world of social media, it is claimed that we have come to a grudging acceptance that the utility of platforms like Facebook or Twitter far outweighs the cost to our privacy. But is this true? Is it simply the case that we have not yet experienced the full impact of our decisions? Sure we have advertising. Targeting. Remarketing. Automation and nurturing. And more.

But what happens when our private information is available at a fee. To any buyer?

New app, Swipe Buster now lets you find out if someone is using the dating app Tinder. You could, for example, enter your partner’s details – and for $5 tap the Tinder API to reveal the answer. Of course, you could also use Swipe Buster for more mischievous purposes.


In this world of ever increasing transparency, privacy and cyber security is becoming a hotter and hotter topic. I have said previously that cyber security is now part of your brand – but it goes further than this. HOW you choose to commercialise “your” data can radically impact the lives of your customers.

There is no doubt that “we” are the product being sold across an infinite web of social connections. In aggregate this may not worry us too much. But as more of these kind of platforms emerge, seeking to monetise the vast data in storage, we may well regret our decision to accept those terms and conditions.

And those businesses that have built their valuations on public trust may find them suddenly friendless.