Today we are chatting to Doug Kessler, co-founder and creative director of Velocity Partners, a leading UK based B2B content marketing agency that works with some of the biggest brands in the world.
Jonny Rose: What is the attraction to you of B2B content marketing? Isn’t B2B supposed to be boring, staid and safe?
Doug Kessler: I love B2B because it’s harder. It’s harder to understand ad tech software than it is to understand beer.
I like B2B because it involves convincing prospects on the merits of a case – as well as resonating with them on an emotional level. Head and heart. I love that.
I see the fact that most B2B is boring and safe as a big, fat opportunity for Velocity — and for every brand that wants to leap out of a market instead of just slipping into one unnoticed.
Rose: For some the challenge is less the creation process and more the distribution challenge: which are the most effective tactics you’ve seen clients use to distribute content?
Kessler: The big three of earn, owned and paid are always at the core. Paid is rising. LinkedIn has a lot of cool new ways to reach audiences, for instance.
We also like to add ‘Employed Media’ to the mix letting your employees know all about your content and how they might share it.
“Avoid producing ‘crap’ content by understanding your audience, helping readers do their jobs better, and hire the best talent you can afford”
Rose: Describe the greatest content marketing success that you have been involved in
Kessler: Launching the Sprint Business brand, website and content program from scratch has been an exhilarating ride and is making a real impact. But our biggest home run has been one of our own pieces for Velocity: Crap: Why The Biggest Threat to Content Marketing is Content Marketing, which has just hit 1.2 million views.
Rose: Briefly, what are three ways that businesses can avoid producing “crap” content?
Kessler: Empathy with and understanding of the target audience. A sincere urge to help them do their jobs better. And hiring the most talented writers and designers you can afford.
Rose: Our core thesis at Idio is “You are what you read”; the content that you read is highly indicative of what your interests are and – more importantly – what you’re likely to do next. How does this square with your own experience?
Kessler: I agree wholeheartedly. You can tell a hell of a lot about someone by the things they choose to read.
We’re all bombarded with content options — when we actually click on something and spend time with it, we’re voting.
In our B2B work, we rely on this principle quite a lot as we help clients with nurture flows that serve prospects with different content at different stages of the buying process.
Rose: How do those same clients know when they are creating content that meets buyer needs?
Kessler: The proof is in the eating. Are people coming to get it? Are they sharing it? If yes: scale it up. If no: pivot.
“You can tell a hell of a lot about a person by what they’re reading. We’re bombarded with content options – when we actually click on something and spend time with it, we’re voting”
Rose: Does content marketing have a measurement problem?
Kessler: Kind of. But if you think about it, we can measure more and with more granularity than we could throughout the whole history of marketing.
That we can’t do even more is frustrating but things are falling into place. Yes, it can be hard to tie content to revenue. But that just means working harder to do it.
Rose: Is B2B content marketing success easier to measure than B2C?
Kessler: Longer purchase cycles mean that it is often harder, yes. We need to scan for leading indicators. The shampoo guys just run the TV ad and watch the bottles march off the shelves (well, maybe it’s a bit trickier than that).
Rose: What is one pain-point about digital marketing or content marketing that keeps you awake at night
Kessler: Here’s what keeps me up at night:
- Can we find enough writers to do the quality content we need to do?
- Can we find and keep the data and analytics geeks we need to make our programs better?
- Is someone in the house or was that the dog?
“Here’s what keeps me up at night: Can we find enough writers to do the quality content we need? Can we find we find and keep the data and analytics geeks we need to make our programs better?”
Rose: Ha! And finally, Doug, what’s one controversial opinion you hold about content marketing that no-one else does?
Kessler: It ain’t rocket science. It’s pretty much common sense and sound strategy.
(So sue me)
For more insights, tips and revelations from content marketing experts – see our full collection of interviews here.