Content and B2B Marketing – How the Little Guy Can Compete

We won … and the Mynewsdesk marketing team did celebrate. This week we were awarded Sweden’s Best B2B PR campaign and received the silver award for Sweden’s Best Content Marketing for our MynewsdeskNow campaign, that was developed and executed in collaboration with our friends at Edelman Deportivo.

These awards were presented by PRECIS, Sweden’s Association for Public Relations Consultancies at their annual SPINN gala. One fact I do reflect on is that this celebration needs to change it’s name. Perhaps in 2004 when these awards were first held Public Relations in Sweden was all about spin but in 2015 spin in my view has no place in more public relations. As Gini Dietrich says Spin Sucks.

The purpose of this post is not to brag but to share some learnings with you. When I look at our competition for these awards they are some of the largest companies in the world in their segments including Microsoft, Dell, Pernod Ricard, Scandic Hotels and Volvo Trucks. When I reviewed our competition I felt immensely proud but wondered how a small technology company like ours ended up being able to compete with true global giants.

My firm belief is that in an age where all marketing disciplines are merging it is the production of great work that will define the successful modern marketer and communicator. Yes the resources available to you will always have an impact but whatever the size of organization you work for, unless you are very lucky, they will always be “scarce”.

Here are the lessons we have learnt from that campaign.

Marry Brand Purpose with Commercial Purpose

To develop a newsworthy angle we chose to focus on a major social issue around communication – that of digital alienation within the elderly. At Mynewsdesk we believe that the power of communication can truly change the world but only if you are connected. Fact is that over 1 million people in Sweden and over 41% of the elderly (16 million people) in the US report that they do not go online and are therefore alienated so we want to explore this.

So we decided to introduce 82-year-old Kerstin Wolgers to the internet over 5 days. I have written before about the power of purpose driven story telling and I believe that in a world of ever-increasing commoditisation the use of purpose driven story telling will be increasingly important. Your audience does not really care what you say but they do care what you do and what you believe in as a company.

This renewed focus on brand purpose does not need to come at the expense of commercial objectives. This campaign so far performed across all areas. Not only has it produced pretty impressive outputs in terms media reach and value which can aids long-term brand building. It has also delivered concrete short-term commercial outcomes that in terms of sales pipeline and new business sales generated. In todays data driven world particularly for small companies if a PR, Communications or marketing activity cannot achieve both objectives then it is not worth investing in.

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Our two major focuses for the campaign in terms of execution were to exploit the opportunities through owned and earned media. A landing page / website Mynewsdesknow.se was created as an owned destination to drive traffic too and a call to action (CTA) was created to drive that traffic to test the Mynewsdesk platform for potential sales leads. During the campaign week, realtime social , location and video content was displayed on the landing page to showcase the realtime content.

At the centre of this destination was a realtime newsroom (powered by Mynewsdesk) which offered all the latest updates from campaign in terms of activities or blog posts from the associated ambassadors that we worked with. Of all the assets on the site, the newsroom element drove the most traffic and conversions of the entire campaign.

Equally important was our focus on earned media. This was approached in two ways. Firstly the traditional route, using our agencies skills and relationships to sell in the story to national, regional and trade media in Sweden and beyond but also the use of 5 influencers / ambassadors within both communication, academia and a influencers involved in the organisation Seniornet Sweden. They all contributed relevant blog post’s for the campaign and their considerable networks were leveraged to promote the campaign.

Agencies Provide Creativity & Resources

Much has been talked about the demise of the agency and it’s business model in the digital and social age. Whilst change is a necessity for all agencies I have to say that without the help and advice from Edelman Deportivo this campaign would not have been conceived let alone succeeded. It’s no wonder that Edelman has now established it’s creative hub in Stockholm with Stefan Ronge and his brilliantly talented and humble team.

Our agency partners at what I believe to be one of Europe’s most creative PR shops over delivered on expectations and have restored my faith in agencies. One of the biggest challenges for in-house marketers and communicators today is creativity and resources. I believe a good agency partner can help with both these challenges and has and will remain the agency USP in todays digital world. However that doesn’t mean that agencies don’t need to be effectively managed. It took several iterations to come up with creative concept that we finally decided upon and if we had not pushed back on several ideas I know the success of the campaigns would have looked very different.

 Dare to Try New Platforms

At Mynewsdesk we have always been pioneers at using new platforms. Usually when we start using these platforms we have no idea how they work or how successful our use of them will be but we like giving things a try. So was the case with Reddit which was ultimately the tool that gave this campaign its viral and international reach. Late on a Friday afternoon the marketing team sat round wondering what would happen with our Ask me Anything (AMA) on Reddit that Kerstin, assisted by our agency was about to conduct.

Whilst we are all quite adept at using different social platforms none of us had used Reddit before for a proactive communications outreach activity. Why had we not exploited this community site with over 174 million monthly uniques and 6.1 billion monthly page views I hear you ask. Good question … but I guess with the multitude of channels and content formats todays marketers need to address I guess you cannot be everywhere.

Within a few hours of starting Kerstin’s AMA, it had been voted up to the number one spot on Reddit and had gathered over 1,140 comments. As a result of this success within a few hours international media from Washington PostCBS NewsMirror.co.ukBusiness InsiderChinaDaily were picking up the story and reshaping it for their readers. Here you could really tell the difference between the quality journalism of some outlets and the cut and copy approach of others but in reality we were happy with all the coverage.

 A Campaign is Not Enough

So it was a success. A 60% increase in sales leads, an impressive sales pipeline and increased converted new business was accomplished. As well as the brand benefits of 200 million people in earned media reach, $5 million in earned media value. However the key learning for me was that a campaign is not enough. Where is the longterm value? Well the MynewsdeskNow campaign forms a starting point. The MynewsdeskNow destination gives us a platform to iterate on and the deployment of purpose driven storytelling around digital communications will continue. But next time we will leverage these concepts to build a longterm content asset that will stand the test of time and deliver value a longtime after the campaign activity has ceased.

So winning was great and the celebrating was even more fun but what we have really shown is that in Content and B2B marketing the little guy really can compete and win against global giants. More importantly my team have all grown a great deal professionally during this process and had a lot of fun along they way and that’s what really important.

 

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