By Priya Ramesh (@newpr)
CRT/tanaka hosted its very first Northern Virginia B2B tweet-up on Tue, Nov 8th with Shawn Cook, Director of Sales, Eloqua kicking off a discussion around marketing strategies that have had a huge impact on Eloqua’s sales cycle. Throughout Shawn’s presentation, it was very clear that Eloqua as a company takes it “content strategy” very seriously. I couldn’t help but continue to bug Sheila Bogan, Public Relations Manager, Eloqua to introduce me to Joe Chernov, the master mind behind all things “content.” What follows is a short email interview with Joe Chernov, Chief Content Officer at Eloqua.
Joe is the vice president of content marketing for Eloqua, a revenue performance management SaaS company. One of the industry’s most award-winning content marketers, Joe is responsible for imagining, developing and distributing much of Eloqua’s market-facing content throughout the social Web. Joe oversees international public relations, analyst relations and social strategy. Before joining Eloqua, Joe was the VP of communications and associate VP of marketing for word-of-mouth media firm, BzzAgent, and the chair of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s ethics panel. He has presented to the FTC about the Commission’s “Endorsement Guidelines” and has lectured on content marketing and social media ethics at universities and international marketing conferences.
Content Strategy is a phrase that still seems to be somewhat foreign especially to B2B marketers? Could you please enlighten us on how Eloqua has mastered this? <
Joe: I agree that content marketing isn’t a skill that comes naturally to many B2B marketers. I suspect it’s because B2B products tend to be more complex than their consumer counterparts, and, as a result, the marketing lexicon is filled with trade-specific jargon and buzzwords. A simple, accessible, “human” lexicon is the first step in a content marketing program. Even if an individual marketer possesses that skill, organizational culture seems to want to suppress it. As a result, the content marketing effort is derailed before it gets off the ground. After all, there’s never been a great piece of content that included the words, “industry-leading, paradigm-shifting solution.” That said, I wouldn’t say Eloqua has mastered content marketing. We are very much still learning ourselves.
If content is King, who are the soldiers to the King? What are the critical elements to executing a content strategy that positively affects your bottom-line?
The foot soldiers are the places where the content is distributed, the people who share it, and the tools that track it. Content marketing, of course, isn’t new. But the ability for the marketer to double as the publisher, distributor and analyst … well, that’s the new part. Just as a king wouldn’t have kept that title for very long without guards, without distribution and support, even the best content is doomed to fail. A content strategy that positively impacts the top-line is one that balances broad awareness (that is, gets new prospects to discover you) and helps accelerate active leads through subsequent stages of the purchase funnel. That is successful content.
How does Eloqua continue to produce such great, relevant and fresh content in a somewhat less-entertaining space like revenue performance management? Please educate us with specific examples.
Joe: Who says revenue performance management isn’t entertaining? Really though to the extent that we have a secret, here it is: We are a company of marketers who sell a product to marketers. So we turn the mirror on ourselves. We create content about what we know, not just what we sell. We understand that our buyers have more concerns than “just” marketing automation, so we try to help them keep pace with changes and developments in adjacent sectors. We honestly try to be a resource — even if that means we recommend another product, which, incidentally, we have done in our social media program.
Why do you think CMOs in the B2B space are still skeptical to test drive social media?
Joe: I think B2B is inherently more conservative. The old, “Nobody gets fired for buying IBM” adage is still very much hardwired in the B2B marketer’s DNA.I think that skepticism is starting to subside. Trusted firms like Forrester and SiriusDecisions and even some vendors have done a very good job at illustrating that social media is giving way to social business. Books like “Smart Business, Social Business,” (http://www.amazon.com/Smart-Business-Social-Playbook-Organization/dp/0789747995) by Michael Brito hopefully will convert whatever stubborn skeptics remain.
The role of a Chief Content Officer is extremely critical and we see the benefits of that in Eloqua’s success. Can you please help us understand at a strategic level, the role of a Chief Content Officer and how that person acts as an integral thread that connects Marketing, PR, Social Web and in certain cases Customer Success Programs?
Content marketing is a force multiplier. I cannot think of a single function that, if executed well, improves the performance of so many other functions. An effective Chief Content Officer contributes to SEO (search engines place a high value on fresh content, linked to by high authority sites, and shared liberally on the social web), public relations (the media is far more open to write about innovative content than they are willing to report on product press releases), demand generation (the effectiveness of marketing automation http://www.eloqua.com/topics/marketing-automation.html systems hinges on quality content), social media (it gives community managers something to share) and, if the Officer publishes helpful (versus promotional) content, then absolutely the Customer Success team benefits as well. It’s benefits are truly pan-organizational.
If you had to pick three social media trends that will dynamically shift the B2B space in the coming years, what would they be?
Joe: I think we are going to see a rise in adoption for internal social networks, like Salesforce’s Chatter or Yammer. Executives seem to have recognized that the “social UX” has become the natural environment for interpersonal communication. The vendors are also now building out workflow and operational efficiency tools, which will make executives more willing to invest in the platforms. I think the Big Three networks — Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook — will expand to four, with SlideShare joining the ranks. Lastly, I think you are going to see some major mishaps in B2B social media. I suspect we’ll see cases brought before the FTC that expose B2B marketers who attempt to shortcut the system by shilling their own products or paying others for positive reviews.
Thank you Joe for taking the time to help CRT/tanaka Buzz Bin readers with some good advice on an effective content strategy that delivers value to your community as well as your sales organizations.