This article was originally published on leadmonitor.ai
David Kells is Director of Strategic Partnerships at B2B business publisher Raconteur, and he joined us for an in-depth chat as part of our Marketing Maestro interview series in partnership with Press Gazette. Despite the frosty conditions outside, it appears fellow publisher Raconteur sees a sunny outlook by harnessing social media and shareable content.
What’s been your proudest achievement in your current role?
Helping to execute on Raconteur’s new brand proposition. We’ve felt for some time that decision making in business has been becoming more complex. As a publisher that specialises in a number of key verticals in B2B, we create content for multiple job functions and seniorities from a range of different sectors. Therefore, it’s important for us to really understand what drives business leaders to make different decisions and the impact it has on marketing.
I’ve loved being part of the team to take that concept, coupled with some great research, and drive engagement with it across our client network, and potential future readers.
Seeing the awesome feedback roll in from our peers and partners from multichannel campaigns has been a career highlight.
What media channels do you see as most important and best value when it comes to marketing spend and activity?
We drive a lot of dynamic digital content activity through LinkedIn, on both client and editorial side.
LinkedIn has a mixed reception for a lot of marketers as campaign costs can spiral and engagement in the senior business community can be hard to come by.
But given our heritage in quality B2B content and our approach to design, we’ve had great success on the platform recently.
What is your advice for mastering social media?
Obsess over timing, context, and design.
I scroll past so much poorly executed branded content on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter either because it lacks editorial quality or is hampered by a lack of ambition. Being agile enough to contribute during noisy editorial periods with well-researched and well-told stories is what gives brands the edge in B2B social. Couple that with a commitment to genuinely interesting design that’s engineered to suit the platform, and you’re onto a winner.
In your opinion, what is the main difference between B2C and B2B marketing?
B2B has a more complex buying committee. We conducted a survey this year to analyse the state of decision making in B2B, and one of the key insights was that 53% of the time business decisions involve 11+ people. That’s a lot of stakeholders with different priorities, goals and emotions. Therefore marketers in the world of B2B are being challenged like never before to make sure their campaigns drive engagement and deliver.
What is the key to producing engaging marketing content and what types of content works best for you?
Great design and UX are key for me. Buyers in both B2B and B2C have far higher expectations of a brand’s marketing. Therefore, the content must showcase the investment put in to capture its audience. Once you have the audience’s attention, the experience has to be seamless.
With content needing to influence more decision makers than ever before, shareability has to be at the core – which is greatly aided by quality design.
What future marketing trends will become mainstream before too long?
Increased audience interaction, participation, and personalisation.
Marketers and agencies have had a taste for increased transparency in digital marketing campaigns and will continue to scratch underneath the surface of a campaign to gain a more complete view of engagement levels. Across all platforms, marketers will expect a higher understanding of the actions their campaigns inspired, which will speed up tech and publishing innovation.
And finally, if you could ask your peers for one piece of advice or help, what would it be?
I’d love to sit on a roundtable with marketers who have managed successful campaigns to grow first-party data. We’ve had early success in our journey so far, and it remains a key strategic goal. So, soaking up peer feedback on their journey to audience growth would be an afternoon well spent.
This article was originally published on leadmonitor.aiTimes Are Tough, Don’t Skimp on Quality
Advertising Week caught up with Raconteur CEO Will Brookes to discuss how marketing shifts during recession, what to invest in should a recession happen, and the tone of voice brands should be using when times are tough.
What tips do you have for business leaders on how to keep your nerve and carry on investing when times are tough?
As business leaders, we should remember that if we aren’t prepared to invest in our own companies, then we can hardly expect our customers to do so. By keeping marketing investment at least consistent, you’re sending out a strong message that regardless of the tough times, you’re confident and open for business.
Of course, some businesses will need to make cuts to some line items. My main tip would be to consider the short, medium and long-term implications of said cuts, and use that rationale to balance out where and how severely you take any action.
Are there any particularly unique challenges to B2B marketing and communication in a recession – ones that are different to B2C?
B2B businesses are more recession-proof than B2C companies, simply because it is easier for B2B brands to have two-way dialogues with their customers.
B2B buyers do their research, speak to vendors multiple times, often try to negotiate and take time before they make a final decision. All those stages are more opportunities for people in the sales and marketing teams to fully understand what’s going on in the customer’s world and to ultimately influence their purchase decision. B2B brands have more levers to pull.
Given that, I think a big challenge for B2B brands is to keep a constant and transparent feedback loop between sales and marketing teams during challenging times. What changes or hurdles are the sales team encountering? Should marketing teams double down where they’re seeing success and pivot away from areas where sales are slower? How else can marketing adapt and help? If teams talk about these things and agree on the route forwards, they stand the best chance of success.
If budgets are constrained which is the better approach – maintain quality and do it less frequently, or maintain presence but with cheaper options?
Put it this way – which is better? Ten leads that you have a chance of converting or 100 leads that you have a slim chance of converting and will likely waste time trying to convert? Two hundred views on a campaign from people who play significant roles in the purchase of your products or services or 1,000 views from people who don’t? One great campaign or three bang-average ones? It doesn’t matter how you slice and dice it; quality always wins. Generating great eyeballs or leads isn’t easy, especially in B2B where the parameters are tighter meaning you’ve got to be more relevant, more targeted and more differentiated. It’ll be nearly impossible to achieve success if you try to spread a limited budget more thinly.
I understand why some marketers still choose the latter. They think it spreads the risk and potentially shows frugality internally. I think this just shows a lack of confidence, either in their proposition or in their ability to make strong choices. I know that’s a little provocative but I think it’s the truth that some B2B marketers need to hear.
Fortune favours the brave at all times, especially the more challenging times when you’ve got the chance to zig while others zag.
We’ve heard repeatedly that the research points to businesses needing to maintain marketing and advertising spend during recessions – but do you think this is understood beyond the marketing department?
To be honest, I’m not sure that this is fully understood even within marketing departments!
Funnily enough, Raconteur is about to launch a new brand proposition accompanied by our largest-ever paid marketing campaign. Did I think about holding off due to the current economic climate? Sure I did, but our conclusion is that there is no better time to do it because we know some of our competitors won’t be as noisy. That said, I’ve worked in the sales and marketing industry for 15 years so despite never working in the marketing function, I know how it works.
For businesses in other sectors, I certainly think they’re far too quick to look at marketing as an area for potential “risk mitigation” and cost-cutting, without thinking through the logic of this or considering the longer-term implications.
Any senior leader outside the marketing department should know that marketing (if it’s effective) and sales go hand in hand. In a recession, the one thing you probably want to protect with your life is sales, so it’s counterintuitive to scale back on brand awareness initiatives or generate fewer leads. I think people who argue otherwise probably have insufficient confidence in their marketing department, which is a deeper issue and has nothing to do with a recession.
Now that data acquisition is often such an intrinsic part of customer communications do you think that businesses are more willing to maintain spend?
Certainly. The measurable outcome, the data, gives comfort that the money a marketer spends gets them something tangible. But we mustn’t forget the age-old adage that: “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.” Brands that pivot solely to a short-term lead generation strategy in these times will likely hurt their longer-term prospects – keeping a blend is key.
Do you think B2B understands the need for brand building or is it too focused on lead generation?
From my experience, most B2B marketers absolutely understand the need for longer-term brand building but sometimes they need a little reminding and a little re-convincing about the power and importance of it. Lead generation can feel safer because there’s a quantifiable outcome and it might keep the sales team or the CEO off your back – but great marketers should be able to back themselves and look beyond that.
Tone of voice must be more considered when times are hard – certainly in B2C it’s all too easy to pitch it wrong. Do you think this is also the case with business comms?
B2B brands tend to be less emotive with their marketing, rightly or wrongly, so you see fewer disaster stories. But that doesn’t mean the risk doesn’t exist. Hopefully, everyone has learned a lot of lessons from the Covid period, when some industries were hit so much harder than others, which not everyone was mindful of. As long as you’re sensitive to the different challenges faced by different sectors and different types of businesses, it shouldn’t be too difficult to avoid landing yourself in hot water.
All that said, I think B2B brands should be far more emotive with their marketing, so they need to walk the tightrope carefully.
Trust and expertise are at the heart of much business marketing – what are the most effective ways of conveying that when times are tough?
The secret to building trust is always authenticity. Brands should do what they say they’re going to do and shouldn’t say they believe in things that they don’t. It’s a very simple rule to follow and it’s even more important when times are tough and getting it wrong could quickly evaporate trust.
Arguably, tough times also represent an opportunity to showcase your superior expertise versus your competition. If you can relate your marketing to the challenges your clients and prospects are likely facing in a downturn and show that you understand those and how your solutions can alleviate their pain, you’re much more likely to be seen as a true expert.
This article was originally published on Advertising Week.