“Brands Should Think Carefully About What Contexts They Want To Be In”

By Dan Willstrand Aug 2, 2018

Reading 7 min

Content marketing seems easy for consumer brands, but more challenging to B2B companies. How can you create stories that engage? And how do you reach the targeted audience? Strossle’s Co-founder Dan Willstrand met Johan Kristiansson, Global Head of Digital Marketing Development at Ericsson, to learn more how the global telecom giant address those issues.

 

 

Content Marketing seems easy for consumer brands, but more challenging to B2B companies. How can you create stories that engage? And how do you reach the targeted audience? Strossle’s Co-founder Dan Willstrand met Johan Kristiansson, Global Head of Digital Marketing Development at Ericsson, to learn more how the global telecom giant address those issues.

A COMPANY LIKE ERICSSON STRIVES TO WIN CONTRACTS WORTH BILLIONS OF EUROS. SUCH DEALS MUST BE VERY COMPLEX. WHAT ROLE DOES MARKETING PLAY IN SUCH PROCESSES?

B2B buying is certainly becoming more digitalized, also for Ericsson, even if the personal sales interaction is still the key component of winning a deal. We know that customers are increasingly doing “self-service research” in digital channels before they start up a Request-For-Proposal (RFP) process. Customers go to supplier websites and look at things like product information, latest launches, customer cases, whitepapers, etc. We must hence make sure that we are getting our key selling points across in these digital channels, it will certainly influence the RFP processes.

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I HAVE MET MANY B2B COMPANIES FINDING IT DIFFICULT TO PRODUCE INTERESTING ENOUGH CONTENT TO ENGAGE BROADER TARGET GROUPS. DO YOU HAVE THE SAME EXPERIENCE? AND HOW DO YOU TACKLE THAT?

I think a good way to create engaging content is to highlight anything “newsworthy” with new products/offerings being launched. There is usually something which is new and interesting in a product launch. What would a journalist at a trade publication write about the launch? We call this “News driven content marketing”. The marketing material should be inspired by the tonality and news angle that a journalist would use. People shy away from anything that look too much like “marketing” but they still like “news”. The “newsworthiness” of course passes quickly, so make sure to do a quite short “spike” with paid media while your content is still hot. You need to get a critical mass of attention during a few days when you are launching. Then you can stay quiet for a while and save up for your next launch.

I ONCE HEARD A FAMOUS CREATOR IN ADVERTISING SAY THAT THERE SHOULD BE NO DIFFERENCE IN HOW WE CREATE B2B AND B2C ADVERTISING. AFTER ALL, THE RECIPIENTS ARE STILL HUMANS WITH SIMILAR MOTIVATIONS. B2B MARKETING SHOULD BE AS FUN AND ENGAGING AS CONSUMER MARKETING. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPERIENCES?

It sounds like a nice ambition, but I would say that it is notoriously difficult to do creatively & emotionally strong B2B advertising. The successful examples are quite few and far between. To succeed with a creatively strong campaign all the stars need to be aligned: a communicable selling-point, a strong agency, an organization that can accept creative risk-taking, etc. I think it is worth trying every once in a while, but most days of the week I would go with a safer option.

CAN YOU GIVE SOME EXAMPLES OF REALLY SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGNS OR PROJECTS THAT YOU HAVE SEEN, AT ERICSSON OR OTHER COMPANIES YOU HAVE WORKED AT?

I think the “Ericsson Mobility Report” is a good example of successful content marketing. Twice per year we are releasing this forecast report on global mobile data traffic, and it generates hundreds of news articles all over the world and drives great traffic peaks for Ericsson.com. This content is obviously well tied to our core business and people seem very interested in it: www.ericsson.com/en/mobility-report

MARKETERS (OR RATHER THEIR BOSSES) ARE QUITE FOCUSED ON CONVERSIONS TODAY, AND WANT TO SEE GREAT ROI ON ALL MARKETING ACTIVITIES. BUT IT IS A CHALLENGE IN CONTENT MARKETING THAT IT'S DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW THE FUNNELING AND SEE DIRECT CONVERSIONS TO SALES. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?

Any early-funnel marketing activity is certainly more challenging to track from an ROI perspective. I think you just need to rely on some common sense and rules of thumb there. But I do think it is good to benchmark early-funnel activities against each other and compare KPIs like “cost-per-non-bouncing-website-visitor”, “cost-per-email-sign-up”, etc.

HOW DO YOU MEASURE AND EVALUATE YOUR CONTENT MARKETING? KPI:S?

I like “Cost-per-X” KPIs, e.g. “Cost-per-non-bouncing-website-visit” as mentioned above

DATA DRIVEN MARKETING IS A HOT TOPIC, BUT IT SEEMS CHALLENGING TO ACTUALLY EXECUTE. WHAT KIND OF DATA DO YOU BASE YOUR MARKETING DECISIONS ON AND HOW DO YOU TRANSFORM SUCH KNOWLEDGE INTO ACTUAL CAMPAIGNS? CONCRETE EXAMPLES.

I think you can get a lot of valuable data & insights by looking at your customers´ “marketing content consumption”, e.g. website traffic patterns. Who is looking at what content? What accounts are interested in what product areas? These insights can then be used to drive follow-up activities that are closer to sales. A prerequisite here is of course to have tools -capabilities for this, e.g. from the CRM-system, the Marketing Automation System and the Web Analytics Systems.

NO MATTER HOW GREAT CONTENT YOU CREATE, YOU NEED TO HAVE A SUPPORTING DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY. WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON THIS AND WHAT ARE YOUR PREFERRED CHANNELS? (ESTABLISHED MEDIA, SOCIAL MEDIA ETC).

We are using a wide spectrum of digital channels. The main criteria is really that the channels have good capabilities for B2B-targeting.

THERE'S BEEN NUMEROUS RECENT EXAMPLES WHERE LARGE BRANDS HAVE PULLED THEIR ADS FROM VARIOUS SOCIAL PLATFORMS (YOUTUBE ETC) BECAUSE THEIR ADS APPEARED IN DUBIOUS CONTEXTS. ARE THEY JUST CONSERVATIVE OR DOES CONTEXT (PREMIUM ENVIRONMENT) STILL MATTER?

Context matters! Brands should think carefully about what contexts they want to be in and what other brands they are associated with – so no, I do not think they are too conservative.

WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT IN ERICSSONS MARKETING 3 YEARS FROM NOW?

  • Even better integration between our online and offline interactions with customers.
  • Customers will get even better access to our confidential marketing information (e.g. detailed technical information), using a logged-in web environment.
  • More digital self-service for our customers, e.g. the ability to explore/simulate usage of our products.

 

TOP 3 SUCCESS FACTORS FOR B2B CONTENT MARKETING?

  1. Highlight “newsworthy” content, especially around product launches.
  2. Capture insights on “who likes what” from customers’ marketing content consumption, and use those insights to follow up with sales activities
  3. Use “Cost-per-X” metrics to benchmark marketing activities against each other, e.g. “Cost-per-non-bouncing-website-visitor”

 

WHICH QUESTION THAT I SHOULD HAVE ASKED DID I FORGET?

My favorite commercial? It´s “Epic Split” for Volvo Trucks, produced by Forsman & Bodenfors. One of those rare examples of creatively strong B2B advertising.

 

 

 

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