Marketers are facing performance issues and their leaders are facing the heat. Average CMO tenure in 2021 was 40 months, the lowest in more than a decade, according to Spencer Stuart, an executive search firm. A 2020 study by Korn Ferry, another executive search firm, found average CMO tenure was 3.5 years, the lowest of all C-suite titles.
We live in a world of intense competition to win new business and retain customers. Customers are facing product parity – most products are as good as everything else on offer. Marketers can no longer acquire customers by building awareness about features and benefits of their products.
Marketers must start positive conversations with and about their brands to get leads, increase sales and create raving fans. To make this happen, they must inspire their customers with three Cs – Content, Capability and Campaign. Content marketers must create, new capabilities they must develop, and how they should execute campaigns to engage with their audiences effectively. Here's also a look at how top brands are using this "3C" model to trigger change in attitudes and buying behaviours in their favour.
Brand recognition is no longer enough. Customers expect brands to differentiate themselves through meaningful content. What type of content must you create? Don’t overwhelm your audience with the features and benefits of your solution.
Your content must inspire, entertain or educate your audience. “Authentic content” and “Relatable content” are among the most effective content types, according to 2022 State of Inbound Marketing Trends report published by HubSpot,
Authentic and relatable content has helped Red Bull to generate about US$6.9billion in revenues in 2021. It also features in Forbes’ 2021 list of most valuable brands. Red Bull produces videos and even magazines. The content appeals to its target audience: physically actively people with a high-energy lifestyle. It showcases extreme sports and aims to inspire its customers to challenge the limits they may have set for themselves. Red Bull never talks about its energy drink.
According to the book, The Challenger Sale, successful B2B companies challenge their clients with commercial insights. A commercial insight is a compelling perspective from a supplier that directly addresses a client’s business drivers and leads back to the supplier’s unique capabilities. A company will have one or more of these seven business drivers: increase revenue, decrease costs, utilise assets, mitigate risks, improve efficiencies, build employer brand, drive innovation. An insight that focuses on these business drivers becomes a compelling commercial insight.
Marketers must investigate their clients’ business drivers by collaborating with subject matter experts. They must create commercial insights addressing these drivers. McKinsey Quarterly, a newsletter, is a dependable resource for global executives to help them address their most critical business drivers.
Marketing teams must act like media organisations. TED Talk videos have transformed how people educate themselves. You must create more informational videos. Clients love to learn from their peers. You must recruit existing clients to share how they overcome their challenges.
Customers self-educate on a purchase using digital channels, before engaging with a supplier. According to marketing consultancy Sirius Decisions, 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to a sales team.
Therefore, the best driver for increasing sales is to teach the customer something new. This requires a new set of marketing skills. Skills related to writing content for flyers, creating brochures and executing roadshows are important skills, but they are no longer enough. Successful marketers adopt a newspaper's mindset for their brand. They think like a publisher and act like a journalist. They figure out what would make news, and what type of content is likely to get their audience inspired. They tell stories that appeal to both needs and aspirations.
Marketers must be change agents. The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new. Marketers must create a “hot cause” that arouses emotion and forges a collective identity. They must also introduce “cool mobilisation” techniques that inspire action and sustain commitment.
The hot cause for marketers now is to turbocharge sales. For this to happen, you must transform the way your organisation shares content with the outside world. The cool sources of mobilisation are content advocacy tools such as GaggleAMP and Dynamic Signal. These tools make it very easy for every employee to amplify their organisation’s insights via their personal social media feeds. Other cool tools are cloud-based video creation applications such as Wochit. They make it fun to produce high-quality videos quickly.
A campaign is a series of marketing activities designed around content assets and tools. It focuses on building loyalty or acquiring new customers. To execute a campaign, you must think about the questions you will ask and the insights you will share. Content assets used in a campaign include: research reports, opinion pieces, slide decks, blog posts, infographs, video clips, whitepapers, social media posts and client stories. Campaign tools help to amplify these content assets to engage with audiences. These include landing pages, webinars, events, email, direct mail, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, newsletters, speaking slots and sponsorships.
You must also execute a pull-based strategy using web content. This must include keywords used by your prospective clients to research solutions, so that they are drawn to your message. Use SEM to make sure your content gets found online.
Don’t underestimate PR. Help journalists write stories by providing them insights and data related to your industry. Use these stories to add a solid layer of credibility to your brand. A campaign turns your business into a series of critical moments. It is enabled by content writers, PR experts, designers, SEO experts, and CRM tools such as Eloqua and Salesforce. And it is supported by timely tracking and follow-up of leads.
The digital HR campaign of professional services firm Aon is an example of a successful campaign. The aim of the firm was to raise awareness about creating a consumer-grade experience for employees, and to acquire new clients for its transformation services.
Aon’s marketing team interviewed its subject matter experts, extracted commercial insights, wrote an opinion piece and pitched it to the trade-journals. This resulted in many published pieces. Those insights were shared during events. The team then extracted sound bites from there and converted them into blogs, video clips, infographs and a whitepaper. These were hosted on Aon.com and promoted via LinkedIn.
By repurposing insights into multiple content assets, this campaign helped Aon to engage with their clients in different ways and multiple times. This created highly qualified leads and new sales for Aon’s services. You will build a thriving marketing career if you focus on starting new conversations that grow revenue. The world is your oyster when you create new customers and raving fans with content, capability and campaigns.
The writer is marketing veteran and former Aon head of marketing and communications Maneesh Sah.