Fall in Love with Customer Problem to Create Epic Content - Ankesh Sagar

by ACN Editor
We caught up with Ankesh Sagar, who is currently heading APAC Marketing at Automation Anywhere to understand how Content Marketing is shaping up for B2B Tech organizations in the COVID-19 times and here are some interesting excerpts from the conversation

Q. What is the Role of Content for B2B Tech organization like Automation Anywhere? How do you think it has changed in the recent times?

AS: I think content is the soul & DNA of marketing. You can’t move forward if you don’t have right content at right time for the right audience. Especially in these times of COVID-19, if you are pushing out content which is not relevant to the pandemic, or if it not related to customer challenges & pain points, while that might work to some extent in a normal scenario but not at this time. You have to fall in love with the problem rather than the solution to understand your customer and then create content around it. For instance, these days, a lot of loan applications are coming to financial institutions and they don’t have manpower to process those applications and I would not try to sell a Loan Application Processing software straight away. Rather, I would educate them on how to be agile, how can they be more personalised even if they don’t have people to manage it. So that guides my content. Similarly, I can’t address two different personas, let’s say a CFO & a COO, by using the same content because if I do so, it is bound to fail. 

Yes, the role of content has become more targeted & personalised. You can not go with same recipe to everyone. If a startup can address a problem statement better than a large enterprise through content, the customer will simply ignore large enterprise and go ahead with a Startup for a specific solution. From a distribution point of view, it is not limited to marketing team anymore. The employees are part of the content distribution ecosystem today and they act as brand ambassadors for the organization. 
Q. How do you think B2B Marketing is different or same as B2C marketing? 

AS: The B2B journey is obviously longer as compared to B2C. I think B2C marketing is driven more by emotion these days. There is one commonality though between B2B & B2C content and that is focus on Customer Experience. The communication for both is becoming Glocal where for a specific region, the organizations are adapting their global content to suit the local audience. Most of the times, we get a global theme which we have to localise according to the prevailing market conditions dependent on certain local factors such as Govt policies etc. 
Q. How do you plan content for the B2B Marketing Funnel? 

AS: You need to look at two important aspects for designing content for the funnel: Message & the Medium. Message always comes first and that too should be industry/persona specific. For top of the funnel content, Case Studies always work. If you can show to a potential customer how a competitor is leveraging a similar solution, he is all ears. I still remember when we were trying to get a meeting with an Automobile giant for about 6 months with no success and after sharing a relevant named case study of the industry leader, we got the meeting with the decision maker almost immediately. By sharing a piece of content about competition, the client was intrigued enough to meet us. The medium for us is mostly the digital media platforms. 

Once we come to middle of the funnel, the approach becomes different. The messaging becomes deeper. For example, for a CIO, I need to show him industry reports/analyst view in addition of case studies. rather than simply sharing a “top of the funnel’ kind of message. It has to be integrated with product demos and features for that particular persona. As we go down further towards bottom of the funnel, it has to be a very ‘use case’ driven approach where you are addressing the customer problem directly and you are communicating only that at this stage through your laser sharp content. 
Q. What are you views on B2B vs B2C vs H2H? Do you think there is need to move towards Human to Human content? 

AS: Even in B2B Tech organization, we are selling to a human like CXO so it has be a Human to Human approach and therefore the content has to appeal to a persona. How we make this happen? We have started doing something called as ‘Brown Bag’ sessions where we invite our potential customers to the premises of an existing satisfied customer and try to show them the journey which that particular customer has gone through. There are about 10-12 key decision makers interacting with each other about the journey, solution & benefits amongst each other which ultimately helps us in pitching a particular solution.  
From another perspective now with this COVID-19 crisis, the priorities have changed drastically from anything else to Business Continuity or even Survival. So any communication which is not taking these factors into account will sound very irrelevant and if it is opportunistic then  people will always remember you for that in a bad taste. You need to, therefore, adjust your content accordingly. 
Q. Do you think more investments are going into digital content these days due to the ongoing crisis? 

AS: I will go back to what I mentioned earlier about Message & Medium. For us, we are 100% digital right now and we are able to reap the same benefits using digital media. Even our flagship event Imagine is now free & virtual. But And we are seeing a huge uptick in registrations because it is not limited to any geography. All leading companies have already gone virtual with their events, for example Microsoft, AWS and Salesforce. You just have to ensure that your lead following and nurturing process is in place before you execute these large scale events digitally. 
Q. Any favourite campaigns or case studies from Automation Anywhere recently?

AS: You can check out one of our most successful campaigns here 
Q. Any suggestions for other B2B Marketers who are trying or scaling their Content Marketing? 

AS: First of all, they should define their target market very well in terms of Industry Vertical, Customer Persona and the Organization Function they are targeting. Once you have defined this, next is content. You should consider creating helpful content which can give them a roadmap to solve their challenges with amazing customer experience. You need to translate your solution in terms of how it will help your customer’s consumers eventually. I followed a simple model called TIPS - Trends, Implications, Possibilities & Solution which has been quite helpful. Always keep your product plug for the end and never try to start by hard selling the solution at the start.