Earlier this month, I was delighted to attend the CMA’s Bigger B2B Breakfast. While many topics were discussed, two key themes stood out throughout the course of the morning. And yes, the writer in me is frustrated that it’s two and not three!
Do it with ‘purpose’
It’s a word that should be on the lips of all content marketers. Purpose driven marketing has been a ‘thing’ for a few years now but Tony Langham, CEO of Lansons has been talking about the value of purpose for much longer.
Lansons is a “full service reputation management consultancy, specialising in corporate, media and political communications with a fast growing content marketing capability.” It’s easy to make the connection between reputation management and content marketing. According to Langham, “the only way to be trusted is to be trustworthy”. Practitioners and advocates of content marketing well know that content marketing is all about creating trust and value.
It’s refreshing to hear the no-nonsense statement that reputation, trust, brand, image - they all amount to the same thing. What’s behind it all? Purpose. A real sense of purpose and value. “Take a stand”, says Langham, of brands. B2B organisations: take note!
Today, with ever widening political and societal divides, consumers place increasing importance on purpose, authenticity and values. Now is not the time to hide behind the B2B category. Behind every B2B marketing touchpoint is - no surprises, a person. A consumer.
Here comes perhaps (for me, anyway) the greatest insight of the morning: the reputation of a brand’s character and the reputation of a brand’s capability can be fundamentally very different. Basically, your purpose or mission can be worlds apart from your behaviour, action and even your communications.
What’s the magic equation? Policy + behaviour = communications.
Trust me, I’m a marketer
A common position communicated by nearly all of the morning’s speakers was the importance of taking a stance. Creating trust is about storytelling, in an authentic fashion. It’s OK to be bold, to be daring, to tackle important issues. But … and this is a really important but… have a strategy.
Brands and content marketers alike - we’re all looking to nail trust. Once again, we have to consider brand reputation. Businesses are putting their reputation on the line when they are hiring content marketing providers or deploying content marketing tactics.
With a fragile economy, an era of fake news and more content out there than ever, “business confidence is at an all time low” states Dan Davey, CEO of Progressive Content. This results in “longer business cycles and conversations”. This places a greater emphasis on the need for customer centricity; true value, commitment to creative storytelling with multi format and channel distribution.
Did print die a death? According to Martin MacConnol, CEO of Wardour - absolutely not. “Print is trusted far more than digital”, especially when it comes to the likes of thought leadership. It’s hard to cut through the noise of digital nowadays. In fact, Jack Dyson and Amy Hatch of SAP showed us how thinking like a print publication can lead to truly effective content. “With couture [content], the great thing is that each piece has its own character …” definitely resonated with the whole audience. They explained how they invest time and effort into great visual content, alongside written; every B2B reader is a consumer like any other, who likes to engage with beautiful content.
Finally - and what connects these two important themes of trust and purpose - is the need for authenticity. John Cooper, Director of Content at Editionals Financial talked about the Fearless Girl ‘marketing fail’ and how in those situations trust is eroded and needs to be rebuilt. Marketing ploys or stunts are perceived as lazy and facile, especially when linked to a particular social inequality. It’s important that brands start to deliver marketing from a position of ‘values’ and create plans to improve these causes which they are championing.
This is an ever increasing challenge and particularly timely, given it’s Pride Month. I was inspired to explore this further and wrote a piece on how brands can embrace Pride marketing with true purpose.
Have a read and let me know what you think!