In this last of field reports from the recent B2B marketing event #BigbeatLIVE from Tokyo, I wanted to share with you the presentation given by Kotaro Nojima from WingArc1st, a Japanese IT company that focuses on data empowerment for the enterprise. As Kotaro explained, content marketing is a concept that has been around for a decade now and is nothing new. That being said, in many B2B companies inside and outside of Japan, content marketing is still something that has not been effectively implemented or optimized to its potential.
WingArc1st’s foray into content marketing actually started with their own blog, which they launched a little over a year ago in April of 2017. Hitting 200,000 views a month in January 2018, less than one year after launch, might be seen as a resounding success for a B2B company blogging about data. Kotaro mentioned that that was all good, but it was really the content marketing 2.0 approach that he is most proud of and thinks will have the biggest impact on their company in the long run as well as yours.
We all know that content marketing is about bridging that gap between how marketers like to talk about their products and the type of information that prospective buyers are looking for and find actually useful. The objectives of content marketing are thus brand awareness ending in lead generation and continuing along the buyer’s journey. Content marketing 2.0 goes beyond that gap to bridge a different one that is equally important: The internal gap that exists at most companies between the presence of their marketing department and the ideal role they should play. This is especially the case in Japan, where marketing departments still do not exist at many B2B companies there.
So, what is this internal gap? Marketing, in simplified terms, we can say is about managing the 4 P’s:
However, at many Japanese B2B companies, marketing is relegated to the role of only managing the promotional aspect of the company’s operations. In fact, at many B2B companies, the role of marketing is limited to sales promotion, and thus marketers are often placed inside and reporting to sales executives rather than existing as a singular department.
Kotaro was no different. Content marketing 2.0, however, changed all of that.
What Kotaro realized was that the marketing functions were all being performed inside the company even though they were not being done by a marketing department per se. They were all being performed unconsciously by “latent marketers” in sales, R&D, and other departments. In order for marketing at his company to succeed and have its rightful place as a key driver for their business, he realized that he had to make other people inside the company conscious that they were performing functions that really should be handled by marketing.
Content marketing 2.0, therefore, was one of the tactics he utilized to make people conscious of the fact that they were performing the role that a marketing department should. He did this by utilizing content marketing not to bridge the external gap that exists between company content and raise external awareness and needs but to bridge the internal gap that existed between marketing and the other departments and raise internal awareness of marketing’s importance and rid the company of its current internal unawareness of latent marketers in other departments doing marketing’s job.
In the United States one might call this an aspect of employee advocacy, but Kotaro was focused primarily of the outcome of employee advocacy in especially helping to break down the silo between sales and marketing.
A little on that later in this article.
As Kotaro explained, any marketer can successfully implement content marketing 2.0 because of the following three reasons:
●It’s extremely agile and easy for marketers to create and scale
●It’s easy to implement something that is ideal for marketers to do
and optimize using PDCA and utilize the same marketing ROI KPIs
●It’s easy to recruit internal latent marketers into contributing to your
By bringing internal employees, especially salespeople, into the content creation process, content marketing 2.0 achieves both external and internal marketing goals. Interestingly enough, the content marketing 2.0 process began when, after beginning the creation of their own owned media, they received recognition not only externally but internally from their employees who became very interested in the blog.
For instance, beforehand they could only publish a case study until after sales closed a deal and the customer had already successfully utilized their solution. Now salespeople will come up to Kotaro with interesting ideas for content, or even before the customer implements their solution they will already negotiate to publish the case study earlier rather than later.
In fact, salespeople now realize that they can use their owned media as a door opener to visit clients, and so they are becoming more and more involved. This increased internal collaboration between marketing and other departments through content means that they can now both reduce the unawareness that internal latent marketers have towards marketing while also being able to create a marketing platform that shows true ROI.
With the help of content marketing 2.0, Kotaro was proud to announce that marketing finally was removed from reporting to sales and now reports directly to the CEO. What is he most proud of, however, is that content marketing 2.0 can help B2B marketers resolve many of their biggest problems, including:
●the wall between sales and marketing
●feeling stuck between marketing needs and internal orders
●being a department that has not say in things and only follows orders
from other departments
●nobody internally understanding marketing
●the marketing function being distributed throughout the company
instead of in a singular marketing department
In conclusion, I want to echo Kotaro’s advice to all of you B2B marketers: Sales are the best latent marketers in your company. Bring them into your content, create content from conversations with them, publish that content to the world, review the results together with sales, and continue the PDCA process making your content marketing 2.0 more successful both externally and internally.