Telling Stories of B2B Marketing Content With "The Shark"

Ginger Shimp

I love my mom, but sometimes we don’t communicate very well. I don’t think it’s her hearing aids or the fact that her brain operates more slowly these days. The dysfunction is more philosophical. I package content so it’s consumable via social media, and she gossips over the fence with neighbors. She still listens to cassette tapes and her VCR perpetually blinks “12:00”, while I spend most of my day on Skype, conversing with people all over the world.

Several months ago, I had a conversation with “Shark” Kinney on an episode of his A Shark’s Perspective marketing podcast.

We were very much in our element because we both have a passion for marketing and media, and it wasn’t long before Shark and I began talking about marketing challenges in the digital age. BDE (Before the Digital Era) we had a limited number of mediums to choose from – direct mail, signage, print media, point-of-purchase, and in time, radio and television. My mother still lives in that world, and she’s not the only one. Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is my mother’s age. He still lives in the home he bought in 1958 for $31,500, and I can’t help but wonder if he has a VCR that’s blinking “12:00” somewhere in that house.

I don’t know much about Warren Buffet’s lifestyle, but as a BtoB marketer, I do have to consider the best way of reaching not only octogenarian CEOs, but also those millennial decision-makers who are just now taking their businesses public.

We have a lot to consider here. In the old days (BDE), choosing the most appropriate media for our message was relatively simple because we didn’t have many options, and by the same token, prospects had limited ways to consume content. Back then, if our content were reasonably placed, a prospect was bound to amble past it at some point.

All of that went out with leg warmers and mood rings. It no longer makes sense to think of industries (or even specific companies) as prospects. Marketing is consumed by human beings, not institutions, and we want to address the rank and file workers differently from the key influencers in middle management, or the C-Suite. In general, the higher up you go in the organization, the less time you have to consume detailed content. The C-level thinks conceptually, but those on the front lines are looking for detailed pragmatic content.

Consequently, today’s businesses tend to have “messaging” versus a simple message, but nonetheless, it’s critical that any given asset focuses on a single message targeted at the appropriate level. Remember that we’re talking to people, not institutions, so a more tailored asset will resonate better than a one-size-fits-all message.

This also means that some media will be more effective than others, depending on the audience. I’ve discovered that the C-Suite seems to have an affinity for audio content. I’m opining here, but I’m betting that it’s because they can consume it while traveling. They also tend to be less interested in the specific features and benefits of a solution, and audio isn’t as good a fit for that type of content, generally speaking.

I’m a big fan of repurposing content from one medium to the next as much as possible. I call it my “digital chop shop.” But I also find it’s best to create customized “hot-rod” content suited to the audience and medium.

For example, I had great success turning written research reports (or white papers) into audio research reports, but we had some challenges. Obviously, we couldn’t use any graphics, and a detailed white paper targeted to key influencers was not well suited to a C-level audience who enthusiastically consume audio. The tone of the white paper text (which, for example, eschews contractions) was not well-suited to a more conversational audio format. Whispering into someone’s ear via a headset is a much more intimate experience than reading a fact-based white paper.

Admittedly, the playbook is still being written on how to grab the attention of an older CEO versus a somewhat less-experienced millennial in the digital era. It’s one part trial and error and one part research. That’s why it’s important to keep up with resources like A Shark’s Perspective marketing podcast with Kenneth “Shark” Kinney and be fearless in your marketing innovation.

I think I can create a marketing content suited to Warren Buffet and another one suited to the young up-and-comers. I’m less certain I’ll ever be able to effectively communicate with my mother, but I’ll keep trying.

For more content marketing strategies, see Hear And Now: Audio Content In Digital Marketing.

About Ginger Shimp

With more than 20 years’ experience in marketing, Ginger Shimp has been with SAP since 2004. She has won numerous awards and honors at SAP, including being designated “Top Talent” for two consecutive years. Not only is she a Professional Certified Marketer with the American Marketing Association, but she's also earned her Connoisseur's Certificate in California Reds from the Chicago Wine School. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of San Francisco, and an MBA in marketing and managerial economics from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Personally, Ginger is the proud mother of a precocious son and happy wife of one of YouTube's 10 EDU Gurus, Ed Shimp.