Earlier this summer Market Connections attended Women in Technology’s (WIT) “Decoding B2B & B2G PR & Marketing Trends” in partnership with Merritt Group. This informative discussion brought together a panel of leading marketing and PR professionals from small to large companies including Bitdefender, Hybrent, KPMG US and Microsoft to discuss challenges they face and successes they’ve had in marketing to other businesses and the public sector.
According to the panelists, some of the biggest challenges include: keeping content relevant, internal broken systems (processes), speed of the industry and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and email marketing.
With so many great panelist insights around key challenges they face, we decided to report on highlights and recommendations across two separate blog posts. In this first of these two, we’ll focus on the first of the challenges identified: keeping content relevant.
Understanding the importance of content marketing in reaching federal audiences, Market Connections seeks to understand best marketing practices so we can share and educate our clients serving the public sector. This includes conducting regular surveys and hearing from marketing experts. We were eager to hear from panelists at WIT Connect on best practices for keeping content relevant. From personalization, to purpose, to length and finally distribution, they provided some keen insights.
When it came to actual content creation, Anna Wehberg, Bitdefender’s Senior Director of Marketing, advised that content should be personalized, using the target audience’s language while avoiding the use of jargon and acronyms. (Read more about Market Connections’ similar findings of the most “annoying jargon” among federal decision-makers.) Marni Puente, Market Development Leader from KPMG agreed. Content should keep an end-user in mind. She went on to say, “Content should offer something of value, it’s not just about the sales, but think about what is in it for them.”
What does the public sector value in content? Looking at key features from our recent study in this market, content should always have the three following features: product specifications, examples of past performance and data and research to support content. Puente’s comments echoed these results, “I’m a big fan of content having primary research… Being able to offer data nuggets…is a great way to reel people in and go into meetings with a CIO and say ‘hey did you know, our survey shows this…”
In addition to personalization, Wehberg discussed the importance of having content for unique phases of the buying journey, including:
- Awareness and education
- Consideration (recognize I have a problem, now who are my players that can solve that problem)
- Preference (making a purchase and taking next steps)
For each of these phases, she noted that content should be trackable and have a purpose. If it wasn’t generating business on the other end, it should be reconsidered. Market Connections also found the importance of having unique content dependent on the stage of the buying process. Content across all three phases should be informative and educational. As you move further down the funnel, certain marketing assets like case studies and product demos become more and more important. (Learn more in our 2017 Federal Content Marketing Study.)
Puente also highlighted the shift over the past 5 years from the long narrative to more snackable/digestible content as a teaser to help reel them in. Tonya Klause, Communications Manager US and Americas Services at Microsoft agreed. “While there is a place for longer-form storytelling content… it has fallen out of favor.” Technology is playing a role in how long content is holding our attention, or as Klause put it, “We are all trained to focus on something for a couple seconds before moving on.”
Marketers should also consider their audience’s demographics. What captures the attention of the incoming, younger workforce, and for how long? According to our recent study, younger audiences are willing to spend more time with content they can sit back and listen to or watch such as webinars, videos and podcasts.
Klause continued to say that for Microsoft, it’s important to incorporate customer references in their storytelling; however, getting government references is one of their biggest challenges. According to our 2018 Federal Media & Marketing Study, over half of respondents listed recommendations from peers and colleagues as a most trusted source of information and over one-quarter cited customer testimonials. While it may be challenging to secure a government reference, there can be some workarounds. For example, anonymizing the referrer by using a case study (listing only the agency or agency type) could be one way of showcasing past experience. Citing a local or state agency (who may have less restrictions) or an industry reference could be another. According to our recent study, federal decision-makers looked to insights from industry thought-leaders even more so than their government counterparts.
Thanks to WIT and Merritt Group for putting together a great event with insightful conversation around challenges and trends and many thanks to each panelist for thoughtful input that will be supportive to B2B and B2G marketers.
Keep an eye out for a future blog post focused on the second key challenge identified: internal broken systems and processes, coming later this month.