We got up at 5am, nearly missed the Eurostar and spent 45 minutes in a cab sweating before arriving at the Fusionmex Content Marketing Conference 2014 in Antwerp this week. But the Steve Martin / John Candy style antics of me and my boss’ trains and automobiles adventure (if we’d involved a plane the journey may have been a bit easier) were all worth it to get there in time to hear Doug Kessler speak.
Doug is the co-founder and creative director of Velocity Partners, a UK firm specialising in B2B marketing for tech companies “because it’s hard”. His presentation was a shot in the arm, in particular his advice to sit down at the start of any project and ask yourself questions like ‘How do I alienate my worst prospect and attract the ones that I want?’ and ‘What would I like to say that I dare not say?’ How many marketers – whether that be in-house or agency – think about sharing a bold idea with a senior manager or client, then think again because of the belief that they’d never go for it? Or our experience tells us that the idea will either be shot down or diluted to the point it becomes unrecognisable somewhere along the line.
Doug’s counter to this? You’ve got to have confidence. Why? As Doug said in his talk: “Confidence attracts people, it signals expertise and experience, it signals honesty and it grabs attention. Great content says, ‘I’m confident, I’m a good storyteller’.” In short, great content takes a stand. Here’s what I took away from Doug’s talk:
1. Take a stand on issues and do it with authority
Think about the things your customers care about, and then think about what it is your brand knows all about. There’s a sweet spot between these two things where your content should lie – you need to address the things consumers of your brand care about using your expert knowledge.
2. Take a stand against boring
This one I love. You may work in a sector you perceive to be dull, but that doesn’t mean your content has to be boring. In fact you should strive every day to make sure it isn’t.
3. Take a stand with heart
Emotion is as powerful in B2B marketing as it is in B2C. Effective content marketing uses emotion as well as rational argument. In Doug’s words: “Head x heart = home run.”
4. Take a stand with humour
Comedy can be hard to get right, but when done well humour can resonate more strongly with an audience than a serious tone, particularly when the subject matter is a serious one. This Rainforest Alliance short video from 2012 is a perfect example and has chalked up more than 4.5 million views to date: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iIkOi3srLo
5. Take a stand against fear
“Fear sucks,” says Doug. “Fear will kill great content.” If an idea feels risky it might be because nobody has ever done it before. And if nobody has done it before it might just work. Take the Dove Real Beauty Sketches from last year. The YouTube video series would not have been a piece of cake to produce – they show real women describing themselves to an FBI-trained sketch artist. Then a stranger describes the same woman to the artist and he draws a second picture based on their description. In each case, the latter representation of each woman is more flattering and affirming, revealing how each one has a negative view of herself. According to an article in Advertising Age from June 2013: “IRI data show Dove’s US sales up 1% in the four weeks ended May 19, right after the April 14 ‘Sketches’ release. That compares with a 3% rise to $1.5 billion for the full year.”
So next time you have a great idea, take a stand and fight for it. And if you need help to do that there is always agency help waiting in the wings.