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.

11 Types of Content to Make Your B2B Marketing Sing

Be under no illusions – content marketing is hard work. It takes planning, resources and focus. But it is also one of the most rewarding forms of marketing that you can do professionally and individually. Not only does content marketing challenge you to clearly communicate – it often brings you up close and personal with customers as well as your sales teams.

These meetings give you the chance to listen, absorb and understand the challenges that people have in their work. And if you are lucky – and creative enough – you can design content that will help them solve that problem. Or understand a solution better. Or simply just bring a smile to their face.

Content marketing is a performance

When I studied theatre I was fascinated by the way that text on a page could be brought to life by an actor. I loved listening to the way that words could be rolled around the mouth and thrown into an audience. A good text in the hands of a great performer can take your breath away. Brilliant writing when coupled with an electrifying performance can change lives.

Now, I am not saying that your content marketing needs to profoundly change lives. Done right, it can. But you do want your content marketing to stand out from the crowd. You want it to become indispensible to your audience. And for that it needs to perform.

This infographic from Feldman Creative is a great reference on the 11 types of content that can help your marketing perform better. It includes handy information on benefits, costs to outsource and even a couple of power tips.

What are you waiting for? Get planning and then producing. There’s an audience waiting.

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Done Right, Content Marketing is No Swindle

In my first real marketing role, I felt like a complete fraud. I had stumbled into marketing and strategy while working for IBM and had the good fortune to work with a “startup” (whatever that was) developing a platform for online communities. I was simultaneously a product manager, sales exec, marketing director, tech support and partner manager. I was the only person within IBM who knew anything much about this amazing new technology and it was my job to convince the sales teams that their media, sports and retail clients needed to learn more. The thing was, I had no idea what to do.

I needed a plan.

Each day I would arrive early and trawl the intranet. I’d find templates for presentations and customer pitches, information and technology architecture, marketing plans and branding. It seemed like there was a system to marketing that could be pieced together if I just had the time. But it was IBM. No one had the time.

So I doubled down. I chose to study late and early and put what I learned into practice. I set meetings with sales execs and asked them lots of questions. I listened, followed up and gave them what they needed. Gradually, a strategy came into view. By the time I moved to a new role, I had a mental system for sales enablement. I had a marketing plan. And I knew how the puzzle pieces connected.

Suddenly in a new role for a management consulting firm, I was amazed to learn that there were no fundamentals in place. No messaging. No positioning. No brand consistency. Certainly no aspiration. There wasn’t even a presentation template that could be used. It felt like the brand had stepped out of the 1950s and liked the cut of its own jib.

So I started planning. I needed the sales team on side. I needed the consultants to rethink the way they talked about the brand. And I needed to set an example. Most importantly, I needed to overcome the massive store of legacy collateral that consultants carried around with them. After all, our challenge was growth, and it’s hard to grow when your eye is locked on the past. The solution was staring me in the face – content. Good quality content.

Quality content is a business asset

I realised that if I wanted to get consultants to use my (and by “my” I mean “our”) new branding, case studies, templates and so on, then they needed to be better than what was already available. The presentations needed to be fresher and more direct. The case studies needed to be current and relevant to client needs. And we needed to focus on recognisable talent – CEOs of major clients, CIOs that knew how to bring business and IT together, and CFOs who wanted to prove they had business nous to take the next step.

So again, I started with a plan.

Our research and client interviews yielded vital insights. We needed data. We needed real world business problems. And we needed proof points that reinforced our new, strategic offerings and traditional service lines. So we scheduled interviews and follow-ups. We measured website traffic and downloads. I worked with my team to write dozens of new offering briefs, solution profiles, case studies and one pagers. All of these were on-brand and on-message. Then we briefed the CEO and the Board, sent out internal communications, updated the intranet, shared new templates and tools and launched the new website. We even had new plasma screens installed in the reception area to greet clients, with a customisable message and co-branding.

Pretty soon we realised that we had created a whole new class of business asset. Consultants from across the country started requesting interviews and case studies using our new formula. We produced internal podcasts – or what we now call “podcasts” – as downloadable MP3 files containing the latest news updates, client wins and thought leadership interviews. It was content marketing way before content marketing. And it worked:

  • We improved our revenues
  • We improved our profitability
  • We launched new products and service lines in record time
  • We scored new clients.

Perhaps most importantly, we gained the respect of our colleagues.

Content marketing is old school B2B marketing in a new frock

These days we have better tools and processes. We can create content much faster. We can generate whole infographics not just charts with just a few clicks. Videos can be shot, compiled and edited, uploaded and distributed right on your phone. Checklists, lists and websites can be updated more easily – and marketing automation not only sends emails but tracks, nurtures and sequences a whole customer journey.

Even still, the principles are the same. Content marketing is a lot of work. It takes effort and planning. It’s still B2B marketing, just gussied up in a new frock. But it does the heavy lifting of marketing super effectively. As Sarah Mitchell explains on LinkedIn:

When done well, content marketing turns your marketing expense into a long-term business asset. It’s a highly effective way to attract an audience and build trust with your customers and prospects. It’s less expensive than traditional marketing and advertising methods – a lot less expensive. If decision makers and budget holders think content marketing doesn’t work, they vote for the easy alternative – advertising and traditional marketing. Both are less effective and leave you with no asset from your expenditure.

Sarah also shares some great tips to help you figure out whether your content marketing team (or agency) are delivering the value you need. There’s 25 indicators that help you determine “if a swindle is in play”, but these three are my favourites. Read the full list here.

    1. If you’re buying into content marketing without taking the time to develop a strategy, you’re being swindled
    2. If your content marketing is focused on social media with no plan to convert or move your audience off the social channel, you’re being swindled
    3. If there’s no plan on how to measure your effectiveness, you’re being swindled.

Is It Time for a Chief Brand Storyteller?

This great presentation on content marketing and storytelling by Jonathan Crossfield got me thinking. What is it about brands, storytelling and technology that we continue to struggle with – and why is this struggle so pervasive?

Now, I see a lot of content marketing every day. There are newsletters, infographics and blog posts. Sometimes there are videos. Podcasts. Quizzes. Surveys. The variety is rich … but the quality? Well, often the quality leaves much to be desired.

Who can we blame?

Content marketing – like all marketing – has many masters. There are the internal subject matter experts to please. The brand and reputation folks to appease. And let’s not even bring up compliance/corporate affairs. Or Legal. Imagine having to include them!? Then there are the representatives from sales, product, engineering and finance – after all, someone has to pay for this.

Eventually, someone will create the brief and the creative process will kick in. It could be internally created or pushed out to an agency. There will be drafts, revisions and feedback. There will be interpretation.

And then one day there will be an approval … and your content marketing baby will be pushed out into the world. Will it work? Will it deliver a bounty?

Too often our marketing efforts end up a pale imitation of the original idea. After review upon review, interpretation upon interpretation, much of the spark and energy is lost.

It makes me think that we need a new custodian. A Chief Brand Storyteller (CBS). Someone who ensures that the story we want, need and should tell, remains intact. The CBS would:

  • Prioritise our audiences over our processes
  • Reclaim our business narratives from the tyrannies of product form and function
  • Remind us that our purpose is to serve customers, guide them, delight and surprise them.

And the CBS would also have an important technology role. So many of our brand and business narratives are generated, delivered and amplified through technology – and this impacts the story and the storytelling. The CBS needs to help brands re-imagine storytelling for our times. And this may, perhaps, be the most important aspect.

Consumer Behaviour Has Changed. Your Content Marketing Needs to Change Too

It wasn’t really until Joe Pulizzi came along and started talking seriously and meaningfully about content marketing that anyone realised that’s what we were doing. As marketers we had been creating collateral, whitepapers, insights, case studies, quizzes, articles and presentations forever. And I mean forever. But we had been producing all this content from a particular point of view – from the inside. After all, up until social media really hit its straps, we were living in a largely broadcast – one-way communications world.

And as we had our heads down, chugging away on our daily tasks, weekly WIPs and month-end reports, something strange happened. Unexpected. Unprecedented.

The audience shifted.

It wasn’t that we weren’t paying attention. It’s that we didn’t have a response. All of sudden, people were reading reviews on the web. They were taking notice of blogs – and complaining about bad customer service. In public. The closed-loop channels that we had developed no longer held any sway. Our customers – whether they loved or hated us at the time – were taking their opinions, feedback and recommendations out of our hands (and channels) and talking directly to each other. Without us.

Fast forward a decade or so and many brands have caught up. To be honest, there has been huge acceleration over the last year or two – and content marketing leaders are rapidly outstripping and outcompeting the rest of their industries. Take a look at the work that Commonwealth Bank is doing. Or ANZ with their BlueNotes initiative. Then look at other industries.

Those that are leading the way have put in place a strategic approach to content and it is paying dividends.

As a member of the ADMA Content Marketing Expert Community, I workshopped key (and continuing issues) with content marketing with leading Australian marketers. We examined the challenges and the processes, skills gaps and opportunities. We looked into ROI and analytics, native advertising and changes in audience behaviour. The resulting whitepaper provides marketers with a solid framework for becoming more customer centric.

This seismic shift in the ability to communicate with audiences from the organisation to consumers demands a radical rethink in marketing strategy. It is no longer the case that businesses can produce marketing materials to support their product cycles. For messages to achieve cut through, organisations need to have a social licence to discuss the topic, putting permission to engage squarely in the hands of the audience. Credibility and media both need to be earned.

You can download the full paper on the ADMA website.

Even Your Boring Brand Can Be Sexy on Social Media

I often wonder if there is such a thing as a “boring brand”. Sure we have exciting, innovative and even “cool” brands – these are easy to spot. Big budgets. Celebrities. Airplanes. But not all of us work for or with these kinds of brands.

And that is the real opportunity. But to understand that opportunity, there are three steps you must take:

1. Think beyond your product

It may be your job to evangelise your product, but the challenge for social media is to step outside of your comfort zone. Rather than thinking of the product you are selling, think of the problem you are solving for your customers.

One of the  best examples that springs to mind for me is an old NRMA ad where the product being sold is roadside assistance. A middle aged couple are dressed up, driving to an evening at the opera. Along the way the car stops in the rain. He has forgotten to renew their roadside assistance insurance. While attempting to fix the problem, somehow the hapless gentleman removes the distributor cap and attempts to hide it in his tuxedo while his wife hits him with her handbag.

What is the ad selling? Not roadside assistance. Not even insurance. It’s selling peace of mind for all the non-mechanics out there.

2. Build customer relationships

Given that customers these days buy in their own time (not just when suits brands and marketing campaigns), we need to find ways to build customer relationships ahead of the buying curve. Learn to speak the language of your customers. Participate in their activities. Show that you “are one of them”.

This is something that startup Canva do exceptionally well. They manage to balance on the one hand, a community of designers; and on the other a growing community of business people who need graphic design for personal or professional reasons. It is clear through their Canva blog and their Design School that “sometimes you win, sometimes you LEARN”. And the more you work to bring both together, the more value is created in and around the Canva platform.

3. Advocate for your customers

As shown in this interesting infographic (below), Tampax’s Awesomely Active Girl Challenge was a great way to engage women, encouraging them to remain active during their period.  But it’s not just a matter of encouraging activity – it’s about being “awesomely active”.

As brand ambassador, surfer, Bethany Hamilton explained during the 2013 campaign, “I am happy to be partnering with Tampax Pearl Active because they offer high performance protection for high performance girls just like me who would never think of letting their periods keep them from hanging ten or biking hard. This contest is all about cheering on each other and celebrating those active moments when all eyes are on them”.

non-sexy-social-media

 

Man sleepingCreative Commons License Timothy Krause via Compfight

Content Marketing in Australia 2015 – Are you creating content worth sharing?

At a recent event hosted by Livefyre, Neal Mann, digital strategist for News Corp Australia posed a challenging question – would you share the last piece of content that you created? Answering his own question, Neal revealed the single largest challenge facing Australian brands and marketers using content marketing as part of their strategy:

Most people don’t say yes. They don’t. Because they’ve not actually created [content] to engage an audience, they’ve created it to get it out the door … It’s worth highlighting engagement on Facebook and marketing. There’s a big difference between paying for engagement which is kind of the initial stages of what happened with social. Now, if you look at the US brands in particular that are notoriously in news, they’re creating content that’s cool.

The Pepsi Max test drive pranks, for example, saw widespread engagement, with some of the videos – like the one below – delivering over 40 million views (and counting). And the Pepsi YouTube channel has also grown as a branded media channel with over 729,000 subscribers.

But this kind of content is rarely being produced here in Australia. There is sill a focus on buying engagement rather than producing engaging content – material and media that are worth sharing.

The release of the Content Marketing Institute – ADMA benchmark report for 2015, seems to provide at least some of the answers to why this might be the case. Presenting the findings from over 250 Australian marketers, the report shows:

  • Content marketing effectiveness is lagging: Only 29% of marketers consider their companies effective at content marketing – though this extends to 44% where there is a documented content marketing strategy in place
  • Marketers need to commit and plan content marketing: Only 37% of the respondents indicated that they have documented content marketing strategies in place. A further 46% indicated that there is an undocumented strategy
  • A disconnect between demand generation and marketing: With 60% of marketers indicating that web traffic is a measure of success for content marketing, sales lead quality languishes at 29% with customer renewal rates at 19%.

Interestingly, the report also reveals that 63% of marketers intend to increase their content marketing budget in 2015. And with this in mind there are some key activities that marketers can work immediately:

  • Develop and document a content marketing strategy: Unless a strategy is clear in the minds of the marketers, agencies and suppliers – as well as the business management – it’s almost impossible to track effectiveness. For assistance in developing your content marketing strategy, reach out to us here
  • Measure and innovate to improve effectiveness: Once you have a strategy, you need to stick to it. Simple frameworks and dashboards can help you measure what works, change what doesn’t and consistently improve over time
  • Commit to creating content worth sharing: Almost every business has employees who are also customers. If you can’t encourage your own employees to share your content with their friends, family and business networks, then you need to reassess your creative approach. It’s time to invest in creative rather than paid media.

As Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute says:

There are two critical factors that differentiate effective content marketers over the rest of the pack – having a documented content marketing strategy and following it very closely. Those two things make all the difference.

And with budgets under scrutiny and competition fierce, it may be time to reach out for assistance. After all, isn’t it time that you started making content that you are proud of? You know it is.

Six Principles to Build a Great Content Brand

All brands should start to act like publishers.
— Every consultant

No doubt you’ll have heard that brands need to start to act like publishers. And I am as guilty as the next person/consultant of using this concept – but I do so advisedly. You see, many moons ago, I worked in publishing. And now I don’t. In fact, many people have started their careers in some form of publishing and have either been forcibly ejected from the industry through some form of disruptive change, or they exited strategically to reinvent themselves.

But the plain fact is that publishing is in decline.

However, knowledge of publishing has never been more necessary.

Good publishers have known forever that their best asset is their audience – and that strong writing, creative and content is what attracts that audience. Many businesses, from startups to enterprises, think that “content marketing” is simply a function of production – that you just need to feed the various channels so that you can cover all your needs. But this is 20th Century thinking. It’s broadcast masquerading as social media.

To be heard in a noisy, always-connected world, you need to be relevant. And that requires some rethinking around your content strategy.

Luckily, the folks from Velocity Partners have done the hard work of distilling this challenge into six key principles:

  1. Be the buyer (ie know your customer)
  2. Be authoritative (ie know what you are talking about)
  3. Be strategic (ie connect the dots for your customers)
  4. Be prolific (ie produce regular, reliable, quality content)
  5. Be passionate (ie have a point of view)
  6. Be tough on yourself (ie make an effort to produce good work)

In addition I would add a final point to this – buddy-up. Most of us are not geared towards producing enough content – let alone producing enough QUALITY content. This means partnering. It’s worth experimenting and collaborating to find a team that is right for you. After all, you’re building a great content brand, right, not just factory farming content?

Holidays Ahead: All aboard the content marketing express

At the beginning of the year, Oracle Eloqua released a State of Content Marketing Survey Report that revealed the trends that were impacting content marketing and approaches that would be taken through 2014. And now, as we are closing in on what is possibly the most explosive time of year for content marketing (yes, I mean the Christmas/Holiday period), I thought it worth running a fine toothed comb across the findings to consider what has changed and what hasn’t. In doing so, we may find a worthwhile insight to drive our holiday content marketing efforts.

Some of the things to consider in your own content marketing include:

  • Grow your own content: With 93% of respondents creating their own content in-house, 2014 was set to be a strong year for client-side marketers. However, just a little over half are regularly creating content for sales enablement. This leads to a disconnect between marketing and sales which can cause internal challenges and misalignment between business and marketing objectives. Lesson: Work with external agencies to expand content creation capabilities
  • Tool-up to measure effectiveness: Almost 50% of respondents expected to successfully align content with the buyer’s journey by mid-2014. However, only 22% have an effective measurement strategy, and 23% don’t have the tools they need for measurement. This further exacerbates the disconnect between marketing and sales. Lesson: There are increasingly powerful measurement tools available. Now is the time to invest, evaluate and refine your measurement approach ahead of the holiday period
  • Feed your marketing automation machine with quality content: Just like data, you get out what you put into content marketing. It’s not just a matter of “pumping out” content – the challenge for marketers is creating a centre of gravity which attracts customers, leads and opportunities to engage. This is done with quality content, and with 24% of marketers indicating they struggle to engage their audiences, it’s clear there is work to be done here. Lesson: The dream of one-to-one conversations at scale is only possible with a deep understanding of your customer’s journey, marketing automation that has been tuned to that path, and quality content that nurtures leads and moves your audiences from anonymity visitors to known customers. 

Most marketers will have clear plans for the next two months, but it’s worth pausing and asking the question “Are we doing the right things and doing things right?”. In this digital age, strategy, execution and measurement are no longer time consuming – and marketers must learn to iterate their marketing at the speed of their customers’ lives. Find people who can help you experiment and climb aboard the content marketing express.

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