B2B marketing is all about developing relationships between businesses and content plays a key role in building and maintaining those relationships. After all, content is a powerful tool for educating and informing your target audience about your products, services, and industry. When it comes to B2B marketing, quality trumps quantity. Your goal should be to produce content that is relevant, informative, and engaging. This will help you build trust and credibility with your target audience.
In this episode of Pepper Content’s Top of the Funnel, Natasha Puri, Content Marketing Lead at Pepper, explores the potential of content in the B2B marketing space with Scindia Balasingh, Head Of Global Marketing at Vajro. Scindia has always wanted to go for a role where she can build something and leave a legacy. She has previously worked with companies such as Freshworks, Blue Star Limited, and Redington India Ltd. At Freshworks, she worked as a part-time marketer for clients such as AWS, Survey Monkey, Slack, and more.
Natasha Puri: I wanted to learn a bit more about your career. You have such an amazing succession and you’ve been a part of such amazing companies. I’d just love to hear a bit about how it was at Freshworks. What were you doing there? Now at Vajro, it seems like a very different profile from what I could gather.
Scindia Balasingh: It’s not a different profile. I would say that because in Freshworks, I was doing only partner marketing. In Vajro, I’m heading the complete marketing for them.
Natasha Puri: Who are the partners that you work with?
Scindia Balasingh: I was handling technology partnerships marketing at Freshworks. So partners like AWS, SurveyMonkey, and Slack, all fast companies which could join and make a solution were Freshwork’s partners. So I got an amazing opportunity, I learned a lot, I got a lot of contacts, and so on. But I was in part marketing for a very long, and I wanted to extend or move up my career. So that time I got this opportunity and the salary was also good, and the opportunity was also pretty vast. And here I was able to do everything. In a big company, your role will always be limited. But going startup, you will learn a lot and contribute a lot. So I always wanted to be doing something like that because right from the beginning, Bluestar, Freshworks, everything is a very scaled-up organization. So I wanted to be part of an art that I could probably call for. I built a complete function for the six years I was there and I built a complete function in Freshworks. Also, I was the first member of the ISP marketing function. And then I built a whole team in three years and so on. So here again, like, I’m scaling up the whole marketing for them. So I always wanted to go for a role where I could build something and leave a legacy. So that’s why here.
Natasha Puri: Yeah, I mean, I was also reading some of the recommendations on your page. It’s like there’s so much talk about your leadership and leaving a legacy.
Scindia Balasingh: I always wanted to do that. Maybe from childhood, you will have nature, right? So my nature is always like climbing that line. That could be the reason. Maybe from childhood, I’ve always wanted to be very career oriented. In a lot of podcasts, I say this in childhood, my one favorite place for me is to sit at the dining table, and I’ll make it an office table. I’ll have a toy phone and I’m always like, I’m an officer, this is my cabin. I have people reporting to me that day. Only like five, or six years. I always like that. I don’t know why. I never played something like I’m going to have a family or I’m taking care of a baby. I was always playing a teacher or an officer. Maybe I always dreamed of going and having a team, having my own office, always, that was my dream. Maybe I started building myself for that.
Natasha Puri: I think for women leaders in general, it’s so important to have role models for young women everywhere. So I think it’s amazing.
Natasha Puri: What is the role of content and B2B marketing?
Scindia Balasingh: So before answering that, thank you, Natasha, for inviting me to this amazing show because I usually respect people who do something outside of their work. Also currently today in today’s world, people are so busy and immersed with work, but finding time to do something extra, I always admire. And I’m also a host of a podcast called Leaders. So I host women leaders just to know and share their journey inspirations along with our audience. So I know how running a podcast is. All right, so I’m so honored to sit on this side of the table and talk to you as a guest. First to answer your question, right?
So today the biggest difference between B2B and B2C is that in B2C, you just need to appeal emotionally and you have to connect with the audience. You have to get your brand associated in their mind, right? That game is pretty different and difficult. Also, I’m not saying that it’s easy, but in B2B and B2C, if you’re buying anything, people will go read online reviews, what others are talking about, or compare the side effects of it. Nowadays, even before watching a movie, you go and see that if you’re going to invest your time, is it worth it? We find that from experts the same way in B2B. Imagine you’re going to invest some money, you would want to see ROI out of it if you’re making a big decision for the company through yourself. So they want to know more before making a decision. In today’s world with a lot of new-age technologies, there is not even a demand. We have to create a demand for that category and then you have to go and market your product or brand. And also when they make such a big decision, they will be wanting to buy or even go with the suggestion of a thought leader, an expert, or a consultant. You need to be authentic in that category. You need to know your game and the customer has to trust you that – hey, okay, this person is coming or this company is coming and telling something, maybe something could be true. Because they seem to know a lot of things and they have the customer interest as their best interest and they’re producing a lot of ROI for the customers. So hence, okay, let me believe and start considering them.
All this is not only possible by using paid advertisements or advertorials, et cetera, because people are smart now. They know if you’re doing paid advertising and that is not a loop. It’s a linear activity. It will have a room at a specific time. It’ll keep growing on its own. It’ll have a virality and it is going to bring in a lot of organic things for you. That is not going to be the case in just an advertisement or a brand building. To answer your question, content is the key to marketing. Without content, none of the campaigns are going to work or none of the activities are going to work.
Let’s consider a physical event. You’re considering a small networking event. Why do people have to even come? To learn something and you have to give them a track saying – hey, coming here, you will learn XYZ. So everywhere, content plays a key role today. And not only creating the demand but even addressing the demand. Say today SEO plays a major role. Even if someone has an internal search in the category or in the field you are selling, if they type something, your article or your advocacy, or some of your white papers, something should pop up for them to even see that there is a brand that exists and they are offering the services which may help me to overcome my pain point.
Any B2B company, they are only successful because they have a lot of content churned out every day or every minute which is adding value to the users in various aspects. Even to create demand for the category, to serve the category, and to make them an advocate for the category or in, you have to work a lot on the content. So instead of saying content is hard, I would say content is everything. So without content, it’s a basic need. You can’t even start marketing. To be marketing is simple. Like you can even call content marketing. Others are other channels. We call it in search of assets. So we call it like this is our integrated campaign, this is our asset, this is our everything. All others will be distribution channels.
Natasha Puri: So Scindia, you spoke about how paid is a linear process, right? You put in money and you get revenue. But also there’s so much talk about content ROI and content leading to revenue. And of course, there’s a lot of pressure on content marketers eventually to show that impact on the bottom line, right? So are there any thoughts you have on how one can use content to drive revenue?
Scindia Balasingh: So I’ll take a step back. Not only for content marketers but even for marketers, there’s also a lot of pressure. Even if you say how much got converted? How much is the revenue? How many dollars you’re getting? It’s a good practice, but people don’t understand a lot of things. It’s not a straightforward methodology to directly measure, but rather imagine how I give KRAs to my team. It is a straightforward way of measuring the ROI is any campaign you do if it is performing well. For instance, if you’re running a campaign on Facebook or if you are running an event or if you’re using a representation in the event, or if you’re using an ebook download campaign in a Facebook advertisement, as long as the content is good, the cost of acquisition of customers will come down. So it’s a straight metric.
You can always measure an impact basis on the success of the campaign. If the engagement is more it’s an indicator it’s always an indicator, right? If you have more traffic, and more engagement towards it, definitely it’s a symptom, an indication that it’s just going to get converted into revenue. So, another example, if I wanted to go a little bit precise, if you are having a landing page with the resource, let’s consider that we did something in Freshworks, for instance. We created a resource page where we had experts come and talk about eCommerce store success journeys. How to make your eCommerce store successful in a pandemic situation or how to make your customers happy because the demand is so much how will you not consider compensating or compromising on the quality as well as offer the customer a good customer experience? Everyone wants to know how to run a successful business without missing off the listings. So everyone started coming in for content. We didn’t gate the content because gating the content will look like a selfish notion for sure. So we wanted to do something, but we made it like an adapted series where people came and talked. The biggest problem that arises is that you can’t measure it. So we measured it as the amount of traffic that came and we used that traffic to run retargeting campaigns. The success of that retargeting campaigns helped us to gauge that. Yes, that campaign was successful because a lot of relevant traffic came. I was able to convert subsequently in my retargeting campaign.
Natasha Puri: I think the next question that I have is that B2B content in general is perceived as boring. And B2B as a space, I think is perceived like that. So can you share some examples or insights as to how to make it more interesting or do you disagree with this idea altogether?
Scindia Balasingh: I disagree with this idea because I’ll tell you, it’s all subjective. Say for instance, for you, certain parts will be very interesting. For me, it will be boring. Why? Because you have an interest in it. I love epic novels. I’m a big fan of it but not everyone will be thinking of reading 5000 pages. As long as you are reaching out to relevant people and talking about their pain points and the need for them, whatever they wanted to listen to, then it’s not boring. We are conversing, right? It’ll be very interesting for all content marketers and marketing people to know. If a salesperson wants to know what is going on in content marketing? They are not giving any ROI. Let me see what industry people are talking about. That would be interesting for them. Consider there is a finance person. Both of us are talking a lot more about this. So it’s not boring for us. It’s about how personalized it is, and how relevant it is for the target audience or for the persona you’re talking to. So for that persona, if you’re giving value-added content, that is not going to be boring for you.
On the other hand, how will you give them the content? Nowadays, the attention span is very low, including mine. That distraction is there for everyone. So in that sense, if you’re taking a lot of time in your content to even get into the subject, then they may abandon you. The bounce rate will be too much even for a simple thing. If you have 30-page content, your audience will abandon you. But if the 30 pages have a synopsis or a small 1-minute video that will put what you will get out of it then that will capture them and make sense to them. So how are you making them understand that this is relevant to you? Communication is the key to triggering their interest. So if someone is saying that B2B marketing is boring, there will be two reasons. One, all the content they read is not relevant to them and second, it is not communicated to them in a form that is easy for them to consume. So it’s interesting, but as long as we are communicating it.
Natasha Puri: I still would love to know, in the context of how you build your teams, where does content sit in the overall marketing team for you?
Scindia Balasingh: In my team, there are people in product marketing, events, webinars, field marketing, and performance marketing. Everyone works with one team that is content. So any communication which goes out from it will be through us and signed off. Whether it’s within our brand guidelines we use the right language. Everything is our content, if we agree to do any events or any webinar, how catchy the topic is, and what are the key takeaways we are coming up with, that is again the whole event success and the webinar success is on the content team. And even as a product marketing team, whatever research, data, whatever copy they come up with communicating. Because again as you said, I do not say that product marketing is boring. But it’s heavy and it’s high-tech, right?
Communicating it in an easy form and making people relate to it again, content plays a major role in that and I have a big admiration for content because maybe I’ve always seen them as an artist or as art everyone cannot do. I can give a structure, and I can give an idea but if you ask me to sit and write a whole book, I can’t do it. So whoever is doing that, I always have a big respect for them. So in my dream, always content plays a major role even for other people who are not content marketers. Also, I would expect them to know what is the idea behind it, at least they should be able to give a structure. They should be able to give an idea, right? And what are we into? So everyone needs minimal content knowledge to be a marketer first. No one can say – hey, I don’t write content. If you’re a marketer, then you should know the content. Are you doing that full-time is the question. Otherwise, you should note if you have a mix of in-house and outsourced content creators. How is that mixed for you? For me, outsourcing content never worked that much so I always build my content team.
Natasha Puri: And if I can just ask why hasn’t outsourcing worked for you?
Scindia Balasingh: It’s very difficult for us to work very hand in hand with you. And they should understand your brand well because lots of times we will end up doing double work. They will not understand. They will write something which will not be in your brand tone. And sometimes they will not understand who your audience is here. And they will come up with something again, our team has to do the briefing again. We have to intervene, we have to say – hey, you can’t call it out. In-house teams know how to get into the groove and they understand our audience well, they understand our brand well.
Natasha Puri: So you’ve also spoken a lot about a lot of examples but are there any specific campaigns that are very close to your heart where you feel the content was at the core of it and you would consider those successful and then again, how would you measure that success?
Scindia Balasingh: So I wanted to link this with my previous role as a technology partner marketer. So in the pandemic, right, everybody got a shock because all the physical events got stopped and people were not coming to the office. A lot of people were falling sick and companies were finding it very difficult to run campaigns digitally because the digital world was fluttered, the content was not performing so we had huge pressure to bring in leads, right? So that time the marketing team came up with an excellent campaign for Freshworks where we ran an eCommerce boot camp. So we brought industry experts like Shopify, SurveyMonkey, Slack, and AWS, like eight partners came together and we made it a two-day event. We had multiple sessions with multiple experts all thought leadership just with an intent. How is this new to eCommerce people? They will get all the hacks for tips, everything. That was the whole intent and we were not selling any products. All experts came and spoke together about how to build an effective eCommerce system for the brick-and-mortar system to be very successful when they launched their online image. So there we all partners agreed to drive 200 leads each but we ended up overall with 2500 registrations. We would have hardly spent $1,000 but that was the lowest cost per lead campaign for referrals and it was highly appreciated and he didn’t stop there.
After that, we did an ebook of a store and we circulated that and nurtured the audience and attracted the local audience through that. And then we found Ecommerce interview series, one on one interview series with experts and we continued with the same theme. That helped and we did the same thing for travel and tourism in a slightly different way. There is going to be a phase where you will be on top. That’s what is happening nowadays. You’ll be at your peak and you will milk. So how will you prepare yourself to stay ahead till the pandemic is over? And when the boom comes, how will you be at full capacity? How do you have to manage? We did a different thing again, we brought all the experts and spoke about this too, which helped us to grow three times, four times than what we expected as a target. That was close to my heart because of that idea as a marketer when you brought in something and it was successful.
Natasha Puri: We’ve come so far with content marketing where you are saying everything is content. Now, what is the future of content marketing?
Scindia Balasingh: As for you, without you folks, there will not be a marketing function. That’s the future and it’s the present. Also, you can’t see a marketing function without content people being there. See, today everything is replaceable, right? Everything can be automated, even your events organizing can be outsourced. Your webinar organizing can be outsourced, everything can be outsourced. But the real IP of your campaign lies with the content. It’s the people. That is the only thing that people can do. It’s not a process like you cannot have a checklist of events or you cannot have a checklist for a webinar. You can’t have a checklist for anything, right? It is not going to work that way. So this is a creative process. So you need people whose IP cannot be transferred tomorrow. That person is leaving, another person is coming in. You can’t expect the same. Content can be better. That may not be better. You don’t know till they come, get into the blue, and perform. So this is one thing when the world is moving towards automation, the world is moving towards eliminating routine work. But this is something which cannot be replaced all the time. And this is going to live like the core intelligence team. So core IP team is our core team. So that’s how I see this.
Natasha Puri: Yeah, I’m glad you say this because, in a world where there are also AI content generators, there’s always this feeling that content creators have. And there’s a lot of debate about it as well. Pepper also has an AI content generator, but we are also very clear that that doesn’t mean that the creator is going away. The content creator is not being replaced by AI. It’s just making their life even easier. Yeah, to make them more productive.
Let’s take an example. Like if an automatic car is coming, doesn’t mean that all drivers are going to go away. It’s here to make your life easier. And similarly, if you’re getting all the modern-age kitchen accessories and appliances, that doesn’t mean that you will not need to cook. So it’s just making your life easier. It’s not going to replace anything.
This is the last piece of suggestions for everyone. All these people think the great piece of content or the great video or the great speech is all about keeping a lot of jargon and statistics, right? Actually, according to me, no. I’ll always tell writers that – hey, just forget everything. Consider you’re someone reading that or someone attending the event. What do you want? What will you understand? Come as a layman. And if I don’t know anything, I want to learn and I’m coming, will I be able to relate to this? Will I be able to gain value from it? That is what all matters. Showing off the jargon, having heavy bursts, making it very difficult and fancy. It may attract you because you are an expert in it. Someone who wants to learn and wants to gain value from it. See how easy it is for them to relate, remember, and take action. So any content has to be actionable, and may not be fancy. That’s what I believe.