Achieve Premium Pricing, B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Expert Marketing, Increase Conversions

The Expert Marketing Formula – findings from 7 years of battling for B2B content marketing relevance (part 2)

Missed out on part 1 of this article? Click here to read it.

My area not only became the fastest growing product portfolio across the entire business but clients actively started seeking advice from myself and my team in their planning process. 

We were able to be part of strategy discussions earlier rather than joining the conversations once decisions were already made. 

What followed is history: In 2015 I decided to leave Fairfax Media to start a business offering the benefits of this approach to B2B brands. 

Andrew Birmingham, Paul Van Wensveen and I turned Which-50, a blog run by a single person, into a 7-figure media business with 12 employees that enables brands to share the expertise of their internal experts with decision-maker audiences. 

Over the last 3 years, Which-50 Media has been able to work with some of the largest B2B brands in the world while constantly iterating and improving the effectiveness of expert content.

This year I have started a new business, the Krueger Consultancy. What we do is embed this approach into marketing departments of B2B brands operating in highly competitive markets.

For the first time, we’ve given the approach a name: Expert Marketing. 

Let me break it down for you...

Expert Marketing definition

Expert Marketing is a content marketing strategy that enables B2B organisations to leverage the professional expertise of their staff to educate the industry, engage potential customers, drive revenue, and increase client retention. 

Brands that previously were able to differentiate themselves through their products now have to shift the focus to their second biggest asset, the knowledge of their internal experts helping clients to use the products they offer successfully. 

Expert Marketing enables B2B marketing departments to share this knowledge effectively as part of their existing marketing activity.

Who it is for

Expert Marketing is designed to help any B2B organisation that features a service component and at least one internal expert. The existence of internal experts is crucial since Expert Marketing can only amplify existing expertise. 

Expert Marketing is particularly suitable for organisations with limited local marketing resource attempting to gain more traction in the APAC region. 

How content is created

The beauty of the expert marketing approach is that it requires minimal involvement of the experts while maximising the market impact of their knowledge. 

Article and video content are the two key content formats in Expert Marketing. Both of them are created based on interviews. The aim is to ensure that internal experts continue doing what they are best at (delivering value to clients) rather than being distracted by content production. 

The difference between Expert Marketing, Content Marketing, and PR

Expert Marketing has a laser-sharp focus on maximising the expertise of internal talent in B2B marketing activity. Where content marketing might do this on occasion, expert marketing makes it the norm. 

PR agencies can support some of the aspects of Expert Marketing but where they regularly fall short is the integration with other marketing activity (such as ABM) and ROI measurement. 

How Expert Marketing is measured

Experts nominated by their organisation are assessed through our benchmarking tool. The questionnaire looks at 6 areas relevant to the expert status of the person taking the survey as well as the supporting marketing infrastructure. 

  • Industry profile
  • Expertise
  • Exposure
  • Business development
  • Marketing infrastructure 
  • Effectiveness 

This assessment then allows us to rank the nominated experts according to the 6 levels of expertise. The goal is to improve the ranking over time in order to improve the impact of associated marketing activity. 

To allow for ongoing optimisation of the program, KPI’s that are closely associated with the existing marketing funnel are put in place. 

Additionally, the Expert Marketing program can be used to attract and retain top talent. This will particularly resonate with young talent since they often are hungry for market exposure. 

Success on this front can be measured by monitoring the average tenure of experts part of the program vs other employees. 

Why Expert Marketing makes sense in the APAC region

Australia is not only one of the most competitive markets in the APAC region but in the world. The advertising spend per capita was only second to the USA in 2018 according to an IPG Mediabrands study. In such an incredibly competitive market environment, the ability to increase marketing impact determines who can claim the largest market share. Expert Marketing increases content marketing effectiveness while utilising experts as a differentiator. 

The other dynamic that makes Expert Marketing particularly suitable for the APAC region is the number of overseas brands entering the market. From my experience, many overseas market entrants assume that their generic existing content will suffice in the Asia-Pacific region. 

What they don’t understand that this content doesn’t deliver the results they are after. Localised content has a greater appeal and B2B decision-makers can smell repurposed overseas content from a mile away. Local relevance cannot be achieved by simply changing “z” to “s” but requires insight and context local buyers can relate to. 

What’s next for Expert Marketing

After having formalised the concept of Expert Marketing in collaboration with my industry network, we’re officially launching the program in September 2019. The number of launch partners will be limited to 3 as we want to ensure early success and the high service standards Krueger Consultancy is known for. If you are interested in exploring Expert Marketing for your organisation, please feel free to book in a time for a call.

Have you previously engaged internal experts in your content marketing activity? What has your experience been? Let me know in the comments below.

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Achieve Premium Pricing, B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Expert Marketing, Increase Client Retention, Increase Conversions

The Expert Marketing Formula – findings from 7 years of battling for B2B content marketing relevance (part 1)

The year is 2012 and B2B content marketing is in its infancy... Back then any B2B organisation that managed to produce high-quality content was able to differentiate itself in the market and drive tangible business outcomes. 

At the time I was a video product specialist at Fairfax Digital. Ad networks had not gained a lot of traction at that stage, Google and Facebook weren’t as dominant as they are today. 

Our clients were interested in what we had to say simply for the fact that there weren't a lot of expert sources providing them with advice and market intelligence. 

Only three years later the landscape had completely changed. Not only did the number of competitors increase exponentially but also the volume of content they published to attract, educate and convert clients.

Welcome to the new world

I found this out the hard way. While we still maintained previously successful communication channels to engage clients, the impact was notably reduced. The revenue of my product portfolio grew but it was well behind the market growth rate. 

My team did extensive analysis to understand what the issue was. Was it the audience? The products we offered? The sales team? 

We were able to eliminate all of these factors after speaking to clients that we had long-term relationships with. 

It crystallised that as the media landscape grew more complex, there was an over-supply of channels and products that achieved the same outcomes that we delivered. 

What became the differentiator in the marketplace was expert knowledge communicated through content explaining trends, operational stumbling blocks, and ways to make the most out of the solutions we offered. 

It’s safe to say that this realisation blew my mind. What a wasted opportunity! The people I worked with were some of the most knowledgeable people in the Australian media landscape. Yet we didn’t manage to capitalise on this expertise.

"68% of B2B buyers value specialised skill and experience the most when engaging vendors" - Inside the Buyer’s Brain (2019)

Pressure creates diamonds

Of course, changing the ways of the entire organisation at a flick of a button wasn’t realistic. We had to start small.

The only way forward was to change our approach and give the market what it wanted, preferably delivered at scale through content. 

At this point in time, our senior executive leadership were still dominating most of the content that was created to address the marketplace. While I knew what we had to do to engage the market more effectively, it was a challenge to change the ways of a large organisation like Fairfax Media. 

After a lot of conversations with our marketing team and ultimately the senior leadership team, we started making incremental improvements to the level of specialised knowledge (and value) we were able to engage the market with. 

We went from engaging market stakeholders infrequently with high-level information to a laser-sharp focus on content value and scale.

We created more educational content that we shared through presentations to larger audiences, started speaking at niche conferences, actively sought out media interviews, and started producing educational on-demand video content. 

The results of this focused approach to sharing highly specialised knowledge were astonishing... 

Click here to continue reading >>

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Content Marketing, Increase Client Retention, Increase Conversions

Prepare Your Brand For Content Shock

Ten years ago content marketing was in its infancy in Australia with little to no knowledge about the philosophy behind this new approach to marketing communication.

Fast forward to 2019 and content marketing is not only huge; it’s widely considered to be the saviour of customer engagement in times of declining tolerance for display advertising and banner blindness. While many marketing trends come and go content marketing is now firmly entrenched on the modern marketer’s arsenal.

Content volumes have increased significantly. Thousands of ‘traditional’ publishers have been joined by tens of thousands of brand publishers with no end in sight. It’s never been easier to hire content producers as traditional news outlets abandon the idea of a full time newsroom.

A growing number of distribution channels offer reach, even within niche audiences. Within the last three years, content produced for platforms like Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter has skyrocketed and research by the Content Marketing Institute indicates that this is only the start of a trend.

For instance 58 per cent of Australian marketers state that they plan to increase or significantly increase content marketing spend in the next 12 months.

Australian content marketing spend

And this precisely defines the problem we’ll be facing according to digital marketing guru Mark W Schaefer.  He coined the term Content Shock, a phenomenon described as “the emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it”.

content shock theory graph

Graphic: The Content Shock theory visualised

Sure, there has always been more content out there than anybody could ever consume.  But now even niche interest areas which have been nurtured by digital media are now affected by this phenomenon. 

Today, we can access content when we want it, how we want it, and the hours of the day where we aren’t consuming content (on desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, smart TVs, digital out-of-home screens, streaming music players, or eReaders) seem to be ebbing away, slowly but surely. (Triple-screening anybody?)

Let’s take a closer look at the Australian content shock symptoms: 

1) Australian marketers spend a lot of money on advertising

Australia has consistently occupied one of the top spots in the estimated per capita advertising spend over the last few years. While data outlining international advertising spend per capita for the last year is still being updated, 2013 and 2014 data shows that Australia remains in either the top spot or the second spot.

Advertising spend per capita 2014

2) Australian marketers love Content Marketing

Google Trends data shows that the interest of Australian marketers in content marketing related topics has seen a steady increase since 2012.

In fact, Sydney is typically one the top locations in the world for content marketing related searches of any city. This interest in the subject is reflected in the latest content marketing Institute research piece which reveals that Australian marketers allocate an average 30 per cent of their marketing budgets to content marketing and 58 per cent plan to increase their spend this year.

top content marketing searches

Graphic: Sydney/Australia typically appears very close to the top of “content marketing” related searches in the world (Source: Google Trends)

3) Brands invade the content long-tail

When it comes to content demand, we’re seeing that the long-tail, a space previously dominated by UGC (User Generated Content), is now increasingly penetrated by brand publishers. Brands with deep pockets invest in building their own channels or pay for the integration of their brand messages in content produced and published by influencers (previously known as bloggers). Facebook can be activated as a highly targeted amplification channel when required.

Struggling media outlets are left with commoditised mainstream broadcasting and unprofitable display advertising business models. Native advertising and attached content studios offer short term relieve but the costs of producing mainstream news still seems to be higher than the benefit of new monetisation models.

Content long tail

4) Australian content marketers don’t fully understand which content engages (but produce truckloads of it anyway!)

Despite any concerns about content shock, 87 per cent of Australian content marketers plan to produce more content while 69 per cent state that producing engaging content will be their number one challenge. Or in other words, most marketing departments have started investing money into content production without being able to define what success looks like and how to measure it. This “spray and pray” approach seems like a frantic attempt to fix declining display advertising effectiveness with a flood of irrelevant content as a side-effect.

The evolution of content marketing in Australia and the path towards content shock can be summarised by applying the key questions in the market to a timeline:

2013-2014 How do I produce content?

2014-2016 How do I promote the content I’ve produced effectively?

2016- How do I ensure relevance when all my competitors are investing heavily in content marketing?

There is no simple answer for Australian marketers on how to tackle content shock but there are a few starting points for the development of effective strategies.

Form strategic content partnerships 

Marketers should explore non-competitive partnerships with other brands who offer products/services that are closely related to the customer needs. Imagine a BBQ manufacturer and sauce brand creating an article series featuring BBQ tips for occasions such as Australia day, Christmas, Easter. Imagine a Tourism board and a car brand co-producing a video series about the best road trip destinations in Australia. The benefit for each partner are:

  • Shared production costs
  • Reach within the partner’s owned channels
  • Engagement with new potential customers

This concept is covered in all detail in Andrew Davis’s book Brand Scaping.

Offer value by curating content

Curation is a cost-effective way for brands to build relationships with customers by acting as a filter for crowded content topic areas. Channels for this approach can be social media or newsletters. Stay clear of posting links on your website as this has the potential to disrupt the website funnel you’ve painstakingly created. The traffic isn’t generated on owned channels but the benefit for the audience and, therefore, positive brand association remains.

Prioritise and master content distribution channels

Each content distribution channel comes with different attributes including content format, audience engagement, primary device access, consumption context ect. Brands with limited content resources are best off focussing on one key channel and perfect the content for this particular channel (e.g. Twitter) rather than stretching too thin by trying to service all channels the target audience uses.

Promote smarter, not harder

Budgets can easily balloon if content promotion isn’t optimised efficiently. It is crucial to run experiments in order to work out which creative/channel/audience delivers the right results. By treating each new campaign as an experiment, even small brands can out-smart major players in market.

Grow your subscriber base

Subscribers are the most valuable group within every audience as they have permitted the publisher (based on their detailed assessment around content quality) to connect with them on a regular basis. This can be happen in form of a “like”,”follow”, or newsletter subscription. Subscriber growth means a reduction of content promotion costs for marketers. Brands with the largest fan base will be able to save money and reinvest in the production of high quality.

Focus on content quality rather than quantity

Content quality is a synonym for content that best serves brand marketing objectives. There is an increasing number of tools out there that help determining content performance in the context of a (always-on) campaign. The challenge for most marketers is to effectively orchestrate these tools and make them work hard to support their objectives. Marketers who understand which tools help them to produce content that serves their objectives will be the winners of the content marketing game.

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