As a part of our blog series covering the Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2014, this blog highlights the key points of the ‘Marketing thought leaders on creating amazing customer experience – 1 hour, five speakers’ session.

The five speakers at this event, all of who only had 10 minutes to speak, were Jason Miller, Senior Content & Social Media Manager from LinkedIn, Marisa Kopec, Vice President and Group Director from Sirius Decisions, Jeff Marcoux, Senior Product Marketing Manager from Microsoft, Heidi Tucker, Vice President of Global Alliances from InsideView and Sinan Kanatsiz, CEO of KCOMM.

I will quickly take you through the insight these people offered in their talks and will try to relate it to your experience as a B2B marketer.

Big rock content

The first person to speak was Jason Miller. Jason focused on the relevance of content. He explained that 1 piece of big rock content that you can ‘live off’ and re-purpose for the next half a year will bring much better value to your company than 20 pieces of smaller, ad-hoc content. Here, the most important thing to watch out for is that your big rock content will address the issues your target audience faces. If your big rock content achieves this, you can rehash it into multiple webinars, blogs, infographics, videos and so on. When the advice you’re giving wears off, have another piece of big rock content ready and never look back (except for performance metrics, always look back for performance metrics).

Jason Miller also mentioned that the rock piece of content must not only be informative, but just as importantly, must be educative and inspirational. A good piece of advice is to aim for various types of content – switching between easy-to-read, entertaining, more ‘meaty’ and thought-provocative pieces of content. And if you’re striving to decide whether your content is relevant or not, ask yourself whether it offers information-only, or original insight that helps your target audience understand how to fight their battles more productively.

Coming back to performance evaluation, when we’re evaluating the performance of a piece of content, it’s also easy to fall into a trap of virality. Just because your content has gone viral, doesn’t mean that your target audience has seen it. Isn’t it much better to be noticed by 10 prospective customers than by 1500 uninterested people? Rather than focusing on virality, track how many new leads you create with every piece of content and how many such leads actually convert.

Selfies and content marketing

The second speaker, Marisa Kopec, in her talk said that the content marketers produce today is a lot like teenage selfies. Why? Teenager take selfies regularly in vast amounts and flood their social media with them, without any concern for those who’re going to see it.

Marisa argued that the customer journey today is, more often than not, misunderstood. Marketers often don’t know what content is appropriate for their leads at every stage of the business funnel. The problem is that marketers think they know what their audience wants to hear, based on what the marketers themselves would like to hear – forgetting they know their solution much better than the potential customer.

As a result, much like selfies, content created without this insight ends up unused and in worse cases, damages the brand. Eventually, leads drop out of the business funnel sooner or later, simply because they haven’t been persuaded that your company can be of help. So how do you prevent this from happening? Talk to your target audience. Engage with them on social media or get an external agency to find out more about them, if you must. Collect plenty of data to learn about the ‘day in the life’ and relate it to your product’s benefits. Putting yourself in the shoes of your customers is a much wiser way of doing business than keeping yourself busy by pushing out quantity of content.

Trans-media marketing

After Marisa, Jeff Marcoux went third and he used his 10 minutes to speak about trans-media marketing. Trans-media marketing stands for presenting you brand via different media in different ways (unlike Omni-media, where you send the same message across all of your channels). Although you must stay consistent in the core ideas you’re presenting, you’re always showing your audience a different side of your brand – a different side of the story. Jeff mentioned the Game of Thrones – the audience’s experience is different whether they watch the show, read the book, or engage with their maps, because each time they learn different information and immerse themselves deeper into the story.

To replicate this successfully, define which sides of your company you want the customer to see. Do you contribute to charity or enjoy squash evenings together? Involve all of your employees in presenting your brand via different media, with different messages – your employees will be forced to think about the business identity more often and your customers won’t get bored of you so quickly. Once you start engaging your customers in varied ways, you’re likely to create richer content and a richer customer experience too. Double win!

Customer intimacy

As the fourth presenter, Heidi Tucker spoke about building customer intimacy. She said what many others were already suspecting – that having big data is not really an advantage unless you can turn it into smart data. This means, just having thousands of names, job titles, companies and industries in your database won’t make you a better marketer.

What will make you a better marketer is making sense of your data and using them to create a bond with your customers. How? Find out more about your leads – have they recently changed jobs, published a book or are they going to be hosting an event soon? When you manage to capture some information about their recent activity, contact them and let them know how you can help them in their new situation. Personalised messages like this tend to get a much more positive response rate than generic ones. Heidi says you’re likely to close these deals faster, at a lower cost (even despite the time you dedicate to the research) and with higher margins.

Of course, to do this on larger scales would be extremely time-consuming. Start by doing this once a week – allocate 1-2 hours of your time to find out more about your leads and record this information in your customer database. Even if you don’t make a sale in each particular case, you’ll always learning more about your target market.

Marketing in 2014

The last speaker, Sinan Kanatsiz talked about the ways internet marketing is changing in 2014. He dedicated his 10 minutes to talk about powerful content, customer relationships and trust, customer data and marketing channel integration. His 10 minute speech was just a short version of another one of his talks at the Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2014, where he talked about these points in more depth. You can read about his presentation in this blog.