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Break Free B2B Series: Zari Venhaus on How to Scoot Your Way to Martech Transformation Through Storytelling

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Zari Venhaus

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Zari Venhaus When it comes to securing buy-in from key stakeholders for marketing technology investments, are you preparing to deliver a pitch or to woo your audience through story? According to Zari Venhaus, Director of Corporate Marketing Communications at Eaton, the latter is essential if you want to create understanding and gain approval from stakeholders at all levels—something she knows from experience. “If they’re not marketers, they don’t understand what we do every day and the impact it has,” Zari told TopRank Marketing’s Susan Misukanis in a recent Break Free B2B interview. “So, we had to learn how to storytell. We had to take our roles as marketers and turn it internally and really do that for our senior leaders.” [bctt tweet=”If they’re not marketers, they don’t understand what we do every day and the impact it has. @zvenhaus on getting stakeholder buy-in for #martech” username=”toprank”] Zari and her team essentially developed a content marketing campaign in partnership with the IT team to weave the martech transformation story web. By doing so, Zari said that, “when we went to the CIO, it wasn’t, ‘Marketing’s coming to me with this new shiny penny.’ It was ‘Hey, our teams have worked together to build a strategy that really speaks to how we can move the business forward.’” By making content marketing part of the internal process, there has been less pushback when it comes to resource allocation. So, while Zari claims she doesn’t have all the answers, it’s clear that she’s definitely scooting towards martech transformation. What advice and insight does she have for you? Listen to the full interview below.

Break Free B2B Interview with Zari Venhaus

Anxious to hear where this story goes?  Use the following to flip ahead to the juicy parts.

  • 00:39 – Zari’s career journey
  • 02:52 – Setbacks in Eaton’s martech journey
  • 05:03 – The need for storytelling tailored to internal decision-makers
  • 07:30 – How to impress the CIO
  • 10:44 – Digital transformation requires a big step back and baby steps forward
  • 12:00 – Why marketing and IT need to be best buds
  • 12:47 – Winning in martech
  • 13:57 – Is the future of content marketing text, video, or audio?
  • 15:34 – Using metrics and more to show the ROI of content marketing 
  • 17:41 – Creating the infrastructure to demonstrate marketing ROI
  • 18:31 – The untapped value of customer marketing platforms
  • 20:43 – The future of martech
  • 22:25 – How can marketers ready themselves for the future?
  • 22:54 – Scooting towards inspiration
  • 23:32 – Breaking free in B2B

Susan: In terms of marketing technology buy-in, what is the journey that you have gone through? Zari: I think one of the things that we learned really early on when it came to martech, is that we couldn’t come to our leaders and just talk about the next shiny new thing we wanted. We were starting to get no’s, and too many no’s.  So we really had to take a step back and think more strategically about our technology stack. What I’m actually going to be speaking here at Content Marketing World about is how to build that business case for marketing technology, how to get your senior leaders to say, “Yes.”   [bctt tweet=”We learned really early on that we couldn’t come to our leaders and just talk about the next shiny new thing we wanted… We really had to take a step back and think more strategically. @zvenhaus on #martech transformation” username=”toprank”] And that’s a process that took us quite some time. So my hope is, I’ll be able to teach the people in the audience, how not to go through the same mistakes that we went through at Eaton.  We were picking the technology and just thinking that if we said the right thing, our leaders were going to sign off on whatever dollar amount we wanted them to sign off on.  And that just wasn’t the case. We really had to take the steps to teach them what it was we do every day. If they’re not marketers, they don’t understand what we do every day and the impact it has. So, we had to learn how to storytell. We had to take our roles as marketers and turn it internally and really do that for our senior leaders. Susan: You’re using content marketing internally in order to get approval on a content marketing platform? That’s great. Tell us a little bit more about that CIO approval, because I imagine a lot of marketers are dealing with this. Zari: I see the IT space and the marketing space are starting to come together so much more—particularly when you think about martech. But you need to be able to convince your IT partners that bringing in another tool is a good thing.  And a lot of that comes down to working on the strategy with them. So one of the things we really learned was it wasn’t enough to just be marketing coming to IT with an answer. We really needed to involve our IT partners upfront in the process. So to convince our working team, that included both marketers and IT, of the technology direction where we needed to go, and then really have them build the business case with us.  [bctt tweet=”We learned that it was it wasn’t enough to just be marketing coming to IT with an answer. We really needed to involve our IT partners upfront in the process. @zvenhaus on partnering with IT for #martech transformation” username=”toprank”] So that when we went to the CIO, it wasn’t, “Marketing’s coming to me with this new shiny penny.” It was “Hey, our teams have worked together to build a strategy that really speaks to how we can move the business forward.”…It’s built a really great partnership between our marketing and IT organizations, which is really exciting to see. Susan: Where are the “wins” happening in martech? What is working really well? Zari: There are two things that for us are starting to work really well. And, I wouldn’t say that we’re at the pinnacle of success yet—we are still very much on the journey.   We’ve recently onboarded a new web management platform. And I think really thinking strategically about website content is really important.  And, what are all the connections that you need to that system? … So making sure that you’ve got a website that can scale globally … How do you have one website that works globally where you can take your content, and you can translate it, and you can move it through the translation process.  You can have it accessible in any country… How you think about writing content is different. And we’re really, I think, starting to wrap our arms around that in a really exciting way. Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Previous interviews include: 

The post Break Free B2B Series: Zari Venhaus on How to Scoot Your Way to Martech Transformation Through Storytelling appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Marketers are still asking, what is B2B influencer marketing? Here’s a definition I’ve been using over the past 5 years or so:

B2B influencer marketing is activating internal and external subject matter experts with engaged networks to advocate and co-create content of mutual value that drives measurable business goals.

As the groundswell around influencer marketing rises and becomes a normal part of the B2B marketing mix, the volume of information and misinformation on the topic also increases.

One of the most popular questions people also ask about B2B influencer marketing focuses on what makes a good business influencer? By now we all know that popularity alone does not make someone influential. It’s certainly important, it's just not the only thing.

As B2B marketers mature in their understanding of the role influence plays and how the dynamic of brand content co-created with industry experts plays out with customers, they begin to realize that other factors matter. Topical relevance matters of course as well as resonance of the topic amongst an influencer’s community.

B2B Marketing Influencers

The intersection of individual expertise, how well that expertise resonates with followers and the size of network creates a baseline of characteristics when evaluating whether a certain influencer might be a match.

But there’s more than that. Understanding what makes a great influencer is both art and science, soft and hard skills. The success of identifying, qualifying and engaging influencers is also directly tied to how they will be engaged and to what end.

Some people reading this might think that influencer marketing isn’t the magic pill some are playing it up to be. There’s a reason for that, because it’s not magic. It’s more like alchemy.

The reality is, there’s no one formula for the perfect B2B influencer, but there are some common characteristics that B2B brands should look for in varying proportions according to what’s important to a program or activation. I call those characteristics:

The 5 Ps of B2B Influence

Proficiency - In B2B marketing, the vast majority of those considered influential possess deep expertise in the field they work in. This is a significant difference from many B2C influencers who are often self proclaimed as influential with clever media creation skills.

As B2C influencer content and engagement tactics evolve, some are crossing over into B2B with a trickle of opportunists successfully creating influence amongst B2B audiences not solely for their expertise, but for a combination of adept social media content creation skills and some expertise. B2B marketers who do their due diligence will be able to filter accordingly.

Popularity - While network size is not the only thing, nor is it the most important thing, it is definitely a metric to consider. Some marketers swing in the direction of ignoring audience size altogether because of lower engagement rates with popular influencers. This is simply foolish. All things being the same, I’ll take 2% engagement of an influencer with a million followers over 2% from someone that has 1,000 followers.

What matters is how network size factors in with the type of influencer you need. For example, popular influencers aka “brandividuals” are often best for top of funnel content. Niche domain expert influencers are better for middle and end of funnel content. Engaging a brandividual and expecting conversions is just naive.

Personality - If you’ve worked in B2C influencer marketing and been exposed to all the characters there, B2B is going to seem a bit dry. Now there are some colorful characters in the B2B influencer community, no doubt. But personality is often a trait that needs to be uncovered when you’re working with some types of business influencers.

The good news is that savvy influencer marketing practitioners know how to plant the seeds that can grow and blossom within an otherwise introverted influencer. You don’t need them to be a colorful character, ripe with personality per se, but you do want them to connect with the passion they have with their craft and how their expertise can help others be successful.

Publishing - Content is the media that conveys the ideas of influence and while B2B influencers are not expected to produce the same types and quantity of content as in B2C, it is ideal when there’s a platform where the influencer publishes. At a minimum, that would be social networks but to be a B2B influencer, it’s most likely that also includes articles contributed to publications if not research, books and presentations.

Promotion - The value a B2B influencer brings beyond adding expertise and credibility to brand content is the ability to share what they helped create with their network. Trust of brand content is at a low, especially with advertising. Customers yearn for authentic content and the right kind of influencer collaboration can give them that, delivered via the influencer’s own distribution channels. That means social networks for course but also potentially blogs, email newsletters, podcast, LinkedIn Live, contributed articles or columns in industry publications.

I know some people reading this are thinking there could be even more P’s like being Prolific, Persuasive or Passion. Yes, there could be so many more but we have to draw the line somewhere! It's important to be able to manage the data and insights necessary to factor these characteristics into selection, qualification and engagement.

Some of these traits will not fully reveal themselves until you work with an influencer on a few content activations. Others will fluctuate over time and that is normal. It's important to understand that influence is a temporal thing. It is not fixed or permanent. It’s important marketers realize that before they disengage an influencer in the short term due to lower performance. The same goes for high expectations after great performance.

Organic influencer engagement is a little dynamic and what you don’t spend on paid influencers like an ad buy you will (in part) need to invest in relationship management, education and even tips that will help the influencers be more effective.

B2B brands with high influencer churn or low performance often apply “ad buy” perspectives to a what is actually a relationship driven effort. Mismatched expectations are not helpful for anyone, so think about the 5Ps as you evaluate and nurture your influencer community. Consider where of each your ideal influencers need to score on the 5 Ps in order to be a good match for the kind of activation you have in mind.

When there’s 5P alignment, there's happiness: for customers, influencers and your B2B brand.

The post 5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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