By using its own platform to voice an opinion and ‘publish like a publisher’, LinkedIn might be proving that B2C marketing really can translate into the B2B space
Every B2B marketer hopes to bring a fun-sized chunk of B2C strategy to their marketing plan, yet with obstacles such as smaller budgets, cluttered marketplaces and a diminished view of creative in the way, few have managed to succeed. LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions, however, is hoping to become the exception to the rule with a solid focus on consumer marketing learnings.
To start, the platform’s B2B arm didn’t only just hire an B2C marketer as global content marketing lead but one that lived and breathed (and died by) consumer marketing in his previous job in the music industry. Jason Miller is still unashamedly connected to the notion of the brand fan, moonlighting as a rock ‘n’ concert photographer.
“I think about marketing a bit differently; I bring that fun B2C mindset to B2B, which is what I think has been missing from B2B for quite some time,” he told The Drum. “Our ultimate goal is how to drive pipeline and leads and traffic to our self-serve portal, but we do that through remarkable content that tells the story of that B2B marketer’s journey on LinkedIn.”
For Miller, remarkable content comes down to having an opinion and consequently “a voice, a stance on certain topics and we use that to elevate the platform”. Like it or not, LinkedIn is the place where everyone’s a thought-leader, so why shouldn’t the brand – as the oracle on using the platform effectively – be one too?
Miller publishes regularly under his own name, and has penned attention-drawing pieces such as ‘It’s time to stop blaming content for your content marketing problems’, and ‘B2B Content Marketing for 2017 – Nine Wake-up Calls For Our Industry’. It’s an effective and ultimately cost-free way for the brand to distribute content marketing; unsurprisingly the posts do end in an ad for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, but also often link to the company’s Twitter account to carry on the conversation.
“The idea here is that we want to position LinkedIn Marketing Solutions as a thought leader around topics that are important to us and our audiences,” said Miller.”Having an opinion, taking a stance, knowing what we stand for and what we do not is how we align our values with our target audience. The result is authenticity and humanising the brand while adding a unique editorial point of view to our tactical and strategic content.”
Outside of these posts, Miller himself is now onto recording the fifth season of the Sophisticated Marketers [sic] Podcast – a bi-weekly interview with ‘marketing powerhouses from around the globe’ that aims to tackle ‘the latest trends and topics that matter most to marketers [tied] together with [Miller’s] unique rock ’n' roll flare’. Again, podcasting is a cost-effective way to do content marketing, and according to Miller, “it’s just another way to reach the professional audience that we’re looking for.”
“I like to take a late night TV show format,” he said. “We’ve certainly focused on B2B marketing but we’ve branched out the topics. It’s just a great way for us to have fun and test out a new channel.”
Under Miller’s watch the Sophisticated Marketer also makes an appearance in a more traditional form – the book.
“When I came to LinkedIn … I needed to answer the number one question that was on our prospects’ and our audiences’ minds: how do I market effectively on LinkedIn?” he explained.
“We came up with a big piece of content that was the ultimate guide to marketing on LinkedIn, answering every question you have. It’s a 65-page beast of a guide called the Sophisticated Marketer's Guide To LinkedIn. That was the first piece of content we put out into the world around a conversation we should own.
“It’s been four years running and it’s still our most popular piece of content. It’s paid for itself multiple times– we’re thinking like a publisher, and publishing like a publisher.”
Right now Miller and his team will be working on selling in LinkedIn’s brand new feature for marketers – Lead Gen Forms, which have been designed to drive leads from sponsored content campaigns by automatically completing users’ forms with information from the platform when they access a piece of content on a brand’s mobile site. But further ahead, the rock ‘n’ roll marketer hopes to take his experience in photography and apply it to his day-job.
“I’d like to figure out how to do video at scale without breaking the budget,” he said. “So bringing in more original photography and bringing in video in-house.
“We’ve seen the importance of video in influencing the buy-in side – telling short stories, and [creating] mini documentaries about solving clients’ problems.”
But does he think marketers really know what LinkedIn can do for them?
“People don’t look at LinkedIn as a place to get a job anymore,” he retorted. “They look at it as a place to consume content, to follow influencers to connect with others, to be better at the jobs they have, not just find new jobs. There’s always an education to be had but the product’s evolving and there’s an organic presence… and there’s a tremendous opportunity for marketers.
“I don’t think there’s a buy-in conversation needed anymore. It’s a room full of professionals – are you in that room?”