Content is the foundation of your Marketing Strategy and Planning - Namrata Kapur, IBM

by ACN Editor
Namrata Kapur is a seasoned B2B tech marketer, leads brand and content strategy for her current organization and the creator of Marketer in Tech: A content series for B2B marketers. As a number-crunching marketing leader and influencer, Namrata is experienced in creating and implementing region and audience specific marketing campaigns that make a positive impact on the bottom line.

Our team spoke to her about the role of Content in B2B and other burning question sfacing marketers today. HEre are some excerpts of the conversation -

Q. For a B2B Tech organization, content & marketing often go hand in hand. What do you envisage the role of Content? 

NK: Marketing products or, offerings for any organizations starts at “what are we marketing” before we move on to “how will we market it”. Basically, content is the foundation as well as the building blocks for any marketing plan. 

For a B2B tech organization, this becomes even more critical as marketers need to understand the technology, the product they are expected to market and then, articulate that simply and precisely so that prospective clients understand the value proposition and benefits. This articulation is the base content on which then all future communication is built. Everything we plan and execute relies on content - from press releases about the new product we launched, to product and client facing presentations, from customer stories to demos and product videos, from speaking sessions at events to social media and online presence. Of course, the format for each content piece depends on the audience you seek to engage. 

For example, in one of the campaigns I worked on, our lead developer travelled with us to various cities across Asia and conducted hands-on workshops. We leveraged that to create mini how-to videos and blog series targeted at technical leads and developers. 

Q. Sales cycles are usually very long in the B2B sector, how does that change the role of content across the funnel for your organization?

NK: Usually in the case of a B2B tech product, we are looking at multiple stages that a prospective client goes through. They start at understanding their own business’s challenges, move to identifying what kind of solutions/ technologies can help them resolve those challenges. They spend time understanding and learning about the solutions in the market, benefits of each, expertise each vendor has, existing use cases they have. Once the prospect is comfortable with these facts, he will then move to seeing if there are some trials or, free demos he can experience to see if the offered solutions will integrate easily with the existing environment, how easy to adopt, etc. Even after the prospect becomes a client, the journey doesn’t end. There needs to be continued education, help tutorials and support. At each and every stage, content needs to be tailored and evolved to answer the exact question the prospect or client is looking to answer.

Q. How would you advise marketers to measure their content marketing efforts in such scenarios (long sales cycles)?

NK: For awareness look at your paid media efforts and metrics: impressions made, website views, click through rates, social engagement Then look at the number of your trial or free offer downloads and signups. Good relevant content will lead to better conversion rates (cost per clicks) over time and a continuously improving cost of acquisition. Leads converting to actual revenue is the ultimate proof that marketing created content works.

Q. What can B2B brands learn from their B2C counterparts?

NK: Not to take ourselves too seriously. Based on where a tech company is in its awareness cycle, it would be great to see campaigns and adverts take a humorous, light-hearted approach to making the technology and the brand relatable and memorable. We must remember that B2B organizations are as much about the brand as the technology. There are many B2B organizations that do this really well, but for the majority it’s still a serious affair. 

Q. Do you believe the world is moving to 'Human to Human' rather than B2B or B2C?

NK: Absolutely. At every stage we need to think about the persons we are hoping will interact with us and our product. Based on which stage the sales team is in while conversing with the customers, as marketers our messaging and supporting tactics should be moulded from targeting an industry, then to a company and finally to the role we wish to talk to. And, now with each role and each persona there are nuances of what specific challenges they are looking to resolve. Are the sellers enabled to resolve these and what content can we create to make all this possible.

Q. How do you differentiate your content for resellers & end customers?

NK: For resellers it should be all about how your product or solution is the right choice for their end-customers, what benefits resellers will get from partnering with you and how you can help them further their brand. You need to also focus on what kind of special support you have for your partner network which is unique - maybe a dedicated marketing program!

On the other hand, end customers care about resolving their challenges and achieving their business goals. So the content should be created with exactly that messaging in mind.

Q. What is your ideal allocation of content marketing budget across Creation, Management, Distribution & Measurement?

NK: For me this is a 30:15:40:15 split (Creation, Management, Distribution & Measurement). It is critical to get your start right. The rest will follow. As I shared earlier, content is the foundation of your marketing strategy and planning. If you need great content you have to invest - either in a fabulous in-house team or, work with the best agency you can find. 

Distribution is important then to take this amazing content and make sure you are programmatically putting it in front of the right audience and at the right forums. 

Measuring outcomes is for me hygiene. But, this is relatively a tool driven exercise and might not need such heavy investments. However, it does need training, access to the right platforms, followed by a dedicated management system. 

Finally, put in place a system which allows you to repurpose, evolve and manage your content so you don’t end up duplicating efforts or miss out leveraging content that exists.