FIR B2B podcast #113: How One Former Journalist Crossed the Chasm to Content Marketing

Denise Dubie was a technology journalist for more than a decade before switching to corporate content marketing, and her reportorial instincts have served her well. Denise, who recently took a new job as Director of Content at PureB2B in the Boston area, was previously senior principal of content strategy at CA Technologies and before that a senior editor at Network World. It’s rare to find someone who has had such deep experience on both sides of the business.

We discuss how she made the transition from tech journalism to marketing and the value of her journalism background in her new corporate role. Denise comments on how her work style changed between the two types of jobs and where the greatest adjustments were necessary. We also talk about success metrics she used at CA and the surprisingly little value she found for social media as a promotional channel. 

Denise also provides some practical tips on what listeners can do to improve their content marketing programs. It starts with having a thorough understanding of customers, a topic we harp on frequently in this podcast. 

FIR B2B podcast #112: What it means to be true to your brand

Welcome to the new year and we hope you all have had a nice holiday break. In today’s episode, Paul Gillin and I talk about what it means to be true to your brand and why marketing managers need to pay more attention than ever to branding in an age in which customers increasingly control the message.

What makes a brand? First off is understanding what are your core values and what lies at the heart of your business. This post for B2B Marketing tells how Burberry, the British clothing maker, literally torched its merchandise in an effort to sustain its premium pricing, a move that turned out to be a major faux Other prominent examples of companies whose bad actions have undermined their brand are Uber and Facebook.

Will brands without social purpose thrive? A new survey finds that two-thirds of consumers expect companies to create products and services that “take a stand” on issues that they also feel passionate about. A great case study can be found in, of all places, with a new British bank called Monzo. It’s trying a new approach to gain customers: raise funds via crowdfunding, open its API, run meetups and hackathons and become more transparent about trying to attract millennial as its customers. Regardless of whether it’s successful, you have to give Monzo credit for originality.

Finally, we offer up a few suggestions on how you can stay true to your brand using storytelling and social media techniques. You can listen to our podcast here:

FIR B2B podcast episode #111: Why marketers should care about privacy invasion

Perhaps the most important B2B marketing story of 2018 is the invasion of our privacy. In our final podcast of the year, Paul Gillin and I talk about how companies have been so cavalier in abusing the data that their customers give them. This invasion has happened through a combination of several circumstances:

  • In the case of Facebook’s failures, the combination of a lack of transparency and an immature and misguided management team.
  • In the case of Google,not being truthful about what its incognito browsing mode is actually doing and how it is doing it. This is from a report from one of Google’s competitors, DuckDuckGo, which found that Chrome personalizes search results even when users aren’t signed in.
  • Abusing smartphone app permissions, as a new study by the New York Times revealed this week. Apps were tracking users’ movements and despite claims that identifying information had been removed, the Times reporters were able to track down a few users and interview them for the story. How they did their research is a fascinating look at how difficult one’s privacy can be to protect today.

Certainly, next year is shaping up to be a watershed moment in resolving these micro-targeting issues and being more parsimonious in how our data privacy is protected. We welcome your thoughts on the matter, along with a few suggestions for marketers to better audit what their developers are doing with respect to privacy.  You can listen to our 15 min. episode below. Have a happy and healthy holidays and a great new year!

FIR B2B podcast #110: David Lloyd, on how personas are for marketers too

The concept of user personas was originally developed for user interface design, but it’s a powerful tool for marketers, too. David Lloyd, who is the lead strategist and senior data analyst from Brilliant Noise in London. joins us to discuss his post this past summer about The dream of data-driven personas.

Personas, particularly ones that are deeply rooted in data, can help shape marketing campaigns. We talk about the differences between user experience and marketing personas and what are the typical data types that would be used to shape useful ones. His blog post talks about common mistakes that marketers make in creating personas and describes what a typical persona looks like, down to assigning them a name to make them more real. 

He also addresses why you don’t want to go too wide or too specific in creating your personas: the ideal number of personas a marketer should work with is about three. Also, the cloud has made it far easier to create and collect a great deal of online data that can be useful in creating personas. Lloyd tells how marketers can make personas more actionable as part of their marketing plans.

FIR B2B podcast #109: Transparency, Truth and the Rebirth of Long-Form Content

Three items in the news caught our attention this week. The first was a piece that by Agility PR about a tale of two PR crisis responses— and why only one of them worked.  The crises in question are the firing of Megyn Kelly by NBC and Andy Rubin’s departure from Google with a $90 million severance package. Both situations were handled differently by the organizations’ leaders, and both produced very different results in terms of public and employee perception. The contrasting cases are useful to help shape your own crisis response and to understand how you have to get ahead of the news in just the right tone and with actions that speak louder than platitudes.

The second piece we discuss provides evidence that marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk is wrong about an awful lot of things, largely because he appears to base his observations and predictions more on instinct than on facts. We respect Vaynerchuk for what he’s accomplished, but think that in an environment in which the value of facts is being called into question, it’s incumbent upon thought leaders to use them. This is the big data age, after all.

Finally, we have often debated the optimal length of podcasts and videos for content marketing purposes, but maybe old assumptions about keeping recorded content as short as possible is out of date. Welcome to the Age of the Hour-Long YouTube Video makes the case that long-form content is making a comeback. For the same reason that podcasts have become popular, people are now able to put their idle time to work. This may have implications for marketing videos in the future, and whether you want to go after quality or quantity when it comes to collecting readership. We both are devotees of podcasts that frequently run 90 minutes or more. That’s because the content is great, the hosts do their research and the subjects are interesting. Which would you rather have, eyeballs or fans?

Happy holidays to all, we’ll return next week with fresh insights. You can listen to our podcast here:

FIR B2B podcast #108: Dan Newman’s 2019 tech trends for CMOs

Paul Gillin and I speak this week with Daniel Newman, author, speaker, millennial CEO and founding partner at Futurum Research. We were interested in a column he wrote for Forbes entitled, How Will The 10 Top Digital Transformation Trends For 2019 Impact The CMO. 

Dan highlighted a couple of the tech trends that will be essential items for CMOs to get their arms around in the coming year, including the transformation of data from machine learning to AI. “Analytics should be the CMO’s best friend,” he told us. “AI will allow for data-driven campaigns that will be guaranteed to work every time.”

Newman said data should play a pivotal role in marketing in the future, and don’t worry too much about over-personalizing the message. Nobody ever complains when a brand provides too much value and can help drive purchases that customers want at any given moment. The trick is to find the right moment and to target customers accurately.

The European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation will force changes in the way brands market in the coming year, he said. They will have to become more creative about not just getting customers to opt in but to staying engaged. This means that companies are going to have change the way they do lead development. They’ll need to know customers better in order to personalize content because they’ll have less data to work with.

We had a particularly interesting discussion about chatbots as a mechanism for driving personal interactions. Newman sees us moving away from face-to-face moments, and the phenomenon isn’t limited to teens or Gen Xers. The rise of customer self-service is an indication that “We have become more social, but only behind our keyboards,” he said.

Another of his provocative predictions consumers will be able to use blockchain to, in effect, sell information about themselves to marketers.  While Newman sees this technology as still immature, he believes its long-term potential is explosive.

Finally, as the average tenure for CMOs continues to decline, they will have to do a better job of managing expectations and develop tighter relationships with their CEOs. You can listen to our 24 min. podcast here:

FIR B2B podcast #107: What LinkedIn’s Latest Sales Research Says About the State of B2B Marketing

When we last spoke to Justin Shriber (below), Vice President of Marketing for LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions in episode #87 last January, he offered some predictions about the upcoming year in B2B marketing. His forecasts turned out to be is pretty solid, including closer alignment of marketing and sales functions and the growing importance of storytelling in promoting your brand. So we took advantage of a pitch for LinkedIn’s new State of Sales report to connect again. This third annual report examined how top sales performers – B2B in particular – are using technology and modern strategies to build trust with buyers and close more deals. The addition of buyer views this year makes the survey even more interesting reading.

The report found a resurgence of buyer interest in doing business with trusted vendors: 40% of sales professionals rank trust as the number one factor in closing deals — surprisingly rated above ROI and price. 

There are also some interesting age breakdowns. Millennials are outperforming their peers in sales effectiveness pretty much across the board, the survey found. Young sales reps are tapping into marketing insights and using tech at higher rates than their elders to help them succeed. Of course, their quotas might be lower, as well!

Buyers who are decision-makers are least likely to engage with sales professionals who lack knowledge about their company (79 percent) and whose products or services are irrelevant to their company (76 percent). Understanding the buyer’s business is now table stakes for salespeople, Shriber told us. Of course, LinkedIn has some features that can help with that. 

In this interview, we dig into a number of highlights of the survey as well as discuss trends LinkedIn is seeing in the use of its platform by sales pros. You can listen to the 20 min. podcast here. 

FIR B2B podcast episode #106: Tips for auditing and fine-tuning your content

This week Paul Gillin and I look at several resources that can be used to help examine your content marketing strategy in our podcast. You can listen to the 17 min. episode here.

First up, this piece by an executive with Athena Health talks about how the company took the time to look at how their site visitors were reacting to their posted content and adjusted accordingly. It also discusses the importance of storytelling as a component of content marketing. There are great tips here on how to improve your content portfolio.

Last month, GlaxoSmithKline introduced a brand incubator that is used for internal audits of all aspects of its marketing and messaging. While your company may not have the resources to do this on a full-time basis, reading this post on MarketingWeek could help inform your own thinking about how you can accomplish rebranding and using content specifically for this task.

Paul shares his thoughts about how small teams can be useful for this effort, particularly since they aren’t direct stakeholders.  This could be a way to innovate and fail fast. He also refers to a presentation that he has put together about content audits. You can download this slide deck from one of Paul’s presentations here. 

He suggests that you think across what he calls the content cube, as shown here. Each cell of the cube classifies the type, delivery vehicle and stage in marketing funnel for a particular content asset. Finally, we offer another content auditing worksheet from Hilary Marsh here.

FIR B2B Podcast #105: The Upside of Polarization and the Great Podcast Correction

This week Paul Gillin and I delve into details about the power of polarization in our podcast. Brands can certainly benefit, and this article shows exactly how Nike and Dick’s saw an increase in certain metrics after they took a particular political stand. Their experience shows that brands can reap benefits both from the positive and negative sentiment around a particular conversation. We wish more companies would take a stand on things that energize their most passionate advocates.

Next up is our favorite medium: podcasts. This story about how American Airlines turned an internal short podcast into a marketing benefit is worth noting. The podcast covers the behind-the-scenes thinking on airline policies. It was originally meant for employees, but executives decided to post the episodes publicly, saying There really is no such thing as internal communications anymore.”

Speaking about podcasts, some media companies have begun to sour on using them. The problem is one of managing expectations, and that quality costs money. NPR’s “Serial” podcast is a good case-in-point: it was well done, but expensive. 

We close this week’s show by talking about how the inevitable disappointment in voice (aka Alexa-based) marketing has set in, as witnessed by Marketing Week. Yes, the interface isn’t as intuitive as it could be, and certainly nowhere as comprehensive as typing on a keyboard. Plus, we all like to see the stuff we intend to buy, even if it is just a picture online. That reminds us of our favorite “Star Trek” clip of Mr. Scott, trying to use voice commands, only to end up typing on the keyboard.

You can listen to our 16min. podcast here: 

FIR B2B #104: DEALING WITH DISASTERS, BOTH NATURAL AND MARKETING-MADE

This week we discuss a few different items, all revolving around one kind of disaster or another. First, we note the news about the Benioffs buying Time magazine. With a fire-sale price, perhaps they can keep the weekly news magazine afloat and fund journalism that the publishers couldn’t do on their own. But will either of us read it in the future? Doubtful.

Next up, Paul wrote this fascinating article about a Talend GDPR survey. It shows that marketers can avail themselves of numerous after-the-fact opportunities. Who is talking about GDPR since the May deadline? We’ve heard crickets. Clearly, there is still much to be said about compliance, and the punishments ahead, such as the recent breach of British Airways’ customer data. Lawyers are standing by, to be sure.

Given the situation in the Carolinas with Florence, it’s timely to discuss some caveats and suggestions for natural disaster marketing. The thoughts covered in this blog post about how to tread carefully during these times are worth reviewing.

Next, Paul has a beef with a “new” product announcement for a product that was announced on a company blog three weeks ago. This means to us that it wasn’t actually new. If it is in the public, that is the news moment. After all, we can look this stuff up. Don’t pass off your news when it isn’t; you won’t engender any trust.

We also mention this post, about how patients are desperate to resemble their doctored selfies. Plastic surgeons alarmed by ‘Snapchat dysmorphia. While it had its beginnings with Instagram and Facebook, the elective surgery is frightening and depressing. David suggested reading Alicia Eler’s Selfie Generation book. When we asked her about this trend, she said “I see this as part of the same trend of selfie dysmorphia found on Instagram. Snapchat is used most by people under 23, so this is just another facet of the same selfie psychology stuff.”
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Listen to our 17 min. podcast here: