Introducing “FIR B2B” with Paul Gillin and Allan Schoenberg

B2BHow do B2B communicators evaluate and integrate the changes happening from digital media? What are the top brands doing to maintain marketing and sales leadership? Who are the people shaping the ideas and thoughts around B2B brands and marketing ideas?

If you think B2B social marketing is just a minor variation on the practices that work in consumer markets, then a new podcast added to the FIR Podcast Network will show you otherwise.

Our new podcast is FIR B2B, debuting this week and next, then continuing every other week. Hosted by Paul Gillin and Allan Schoenberg, FIR B2B will cover the latest news in B2B communications, interview practitioners at innovative companies, and present weekly ideas and tips for making the most of online and in-person conversations. Paul is a veteran B2B journalist and co-author of the 2011 book, Social Marketing to the Business Customer; Allan is the London-based Executive Director of Corporate Communications at CME Group. Both are past guests on FIR.

A podcast focused on B2B marketers and ideas is long overdue. FIR has long covered B2B topics, but B2B companies were actually some of the first movers in social media and this market continues to evolve and shift due to technology. Companies like Sun, Microsoft and IBM were blogging years before blogs went mainstream and with B2B decision cycles longer there’s an intense need for dealing with data and information at all stages of the buying process.

If you have ideas for topics you’d like to listen to and covered, we’d love to hear from you – join the conversation and leave your comments in the FIR Podcast Community on Google+.

You will find episodes of FIR B2B at the main website –

About Your Hosts

Paul GillinPaul Gillin is a veteran technology journalist and a thought leader in new media. Since 2005, he has advised marketers and business executives on strategies to optimize their use of social media and online channels to reach buyers cost-effectively. He is a popular speaker who is known for his ability to simplify complex concepts using plain talk, anecdotes and humour. He is the co-author of Social Marketing to the Business Customer (2011), the first book devoted entirely to B2B social media marketing.

  • Connect with Paul on Twitter: @pgillin

Allan SchoenbergAllan Schoenberg is based in London and responsible for managing the international media relations, issues management and brand communications for CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse financial marketplace. He was instrumental in launching the company’s social media activity in 2007 and continues to lead its social strategy and online community engagement. He has more than 20 years of experience in B2B communications, including his work for Accenture, Edelman Worldwide and Fleishman Hillard.

About The FIR Podcast Network

FIR Podcast Network

The FIR Podcast Network is a series of business podcasts founded by Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz. The anchor podcast in the network is The Hobson and Holtz Report, a weekly show presented since January 2005.

For information about FIR, to see show notes for the podcasts and to subscribe, visit You can also subscribe via iTunes and other podcast directories.

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

FIR Interview: Oracle’s Jill Rowley on Social Selling and Social Business

The Socially Enabled Enterprise“I think a social business at the foundation is a business that is collaborative, that is transparent; that is engaged with its constituents, whether they be employees, whether they be customers, whether they be partners or even influencers.

“And I think a social business is a company that actually is very engaged in a two-way dialogue where that dialogue is happening and whether that be offline, whether that be online, it should be all of the time.”

Jill Rowley of Oracle was interviewed by Michael J Procopio, our correspondent, to get her views on social selling and social business. She is well qualified on these topics as she teaches social selling to the Oracle sales teams and has been doing social selling since before the term was popular.

Listen Now:

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About our Conversation Partner

Jill RowleyAfter six years in consulting and 13 years in sales at and at Eloqua, Jill Rowley made an about-turn in her career: She now leads Oracle’s Social Selling and Social Business initiatives. Jill is currently responsible for evangelizing and enabling Oracle’s global sales team on the Why, What, and How of Social Selling.

As an award winning, top selling sales executive, Jill utilized social media in her selling process. She mastered the art, and as a result is one of the most referenced experts in today’s shifting world of B2B sales and marketing. From LinkedIn to Twitter to YouTube to SlideShare to Facebook, Jill practices the ABCs of Social Selling:  Always Be Connecting and Curating  quality content.

Jill defines the modern sales professional as an information concierge, a content connoisseur, an insights professional, and a mini-marketer with a personal brand.

Connect with Jill on Twitter: @Jill_Rowley.

FIR Community on Google+Share your comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future podcasts, in the online FIR Podcast Community on Google+.

You can also send us instant voicemail via SpeakPipe, right from the FIR website. Or, call the Comment Line at +1 415 895 2971 (North America), +44 20 3239 9082 (Europe), or Skype: fircomments. You can tweet us: @FIRpodcast. And you can email us at If you wish, you can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

Check the FIR website for information about other FIR podcasts. To receive all podcasts in the FIR Podcast Network, subscribe to the “everything” RSS feed.

This FIR Interview is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years. Information:

Podsafe music – On A Podcast Instrumental Mix (MP3, 5Mb) by Cruisebox.

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

The real challenge of content marketing is when you don’t have a strategy

52% No!Two reports were published this month by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute that assess the state of content marketing in 2013 to project a picture for 2014 in the US from both the B2B and the B2C perspectives.

Each report – The State of B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends and 2014 B2C Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – are worth considered study to see what similarities and differences there are between two facets of marketing – to businesses, and to consumers.

What I zeroed-in on in both reports are the challenges facing people in organizations, large and small, who communicate news and information about their businesses and the things they think will interest their customers and other people they want to connect with (aka content marketing).

Many think this activity is largely the same whether it’s to-business or to-consumer. I agree in the sense that it’s all about people talking to people whatever the business type. B2B tends to have more layers of complexity compared to B2C. Other than that, I think there is very little difference. (Christopher Penn has a pretty good comparison between the two.)

On those challenges I mentioned, what keeps content marketers up at night depends on the size of their business according to the reports.

For instance, the biggest one cited by B2B content marketers in large companies (over 1,000 employees) is producing the kind of content that engages – 16 percent of those surveyed said that – closely followed by lack of integration across marketing (15 percent), lack of budget (13 percent) and lack of time (also 13 percent).


Yet that isn’t the same case for B2B marketers in small companies (less than 100 employees) where only 8 percent said producing engaging content is their biggest challenge. What concerns them most is lack of time: a huge 34 percent said that compared to 13 percent in large companies.

It’s the same in B2C content marketing – much depends on the size of the business according to the reports – with producing the kind of content that engages being the biggest concern in large companies, with lack of time the biggest in small companies.


Overall, it’s a more complex picture than you might think and both reports go into considerable nuanced detail to examine strategy, tactical usage, social media usage, business goals, and more.

And on that topic of strategy, here are some alarming metrics.

According to the reports, almost 50 percent of B2B marketers have no content marketing strategy, while more than 50 percent of B2C marketers (52 percent, to be precise) have no content marketing strategy.

Perhaps worst of all, a small but significant percentage in each camp is unsure whether or not they have a strategy for content marketing.

No strategy...

There’s your biggest challenge right there, no matter whether you’re B2B or B2C nor how big or small your business.

First and foremost, you need a foundation, a strategy. You need to know:

  1. What you’re trying to achieve,
  2. What measurable goals the content marketing activity supports,
  3. What your tactics will be to execute on the strategy, and
  4. How you’ll know whether it works or not.

Once you have your documented strategy, I’d argue that all those other things that B2B and B2C marketers are concerned about will seem less challenging.

And one final point to consider – content dissemination aka distribution.

It seems to be a common view that a primary goal is to just get your stuff “out there,” spreading it as far and as wide as possible. Does that make sense?

Mitch Joel doesn’t think so, arguing that there is too much content in too many places. In his thought-provoking post The Failing State Of Content Marketing, Mitch offers his view of what is the true success of content marketing:

[…] You do have a distribution strategy for your content marketing platform, right? The sad reality is that many brands still struggle with a consistent editorial calendar and haven’t really thought all that much about what the distribution model looks like (and what it can become) beyond posting it on their own sites. I recently spent some time with an individual who has quickly risen the ranks to become one of the most beloved bloggers in the world. The strategy for success is more distribution [than] creation. They test things on Facebook, and then blow it out into a newsletter article if it gets traction on Facebook. Once they get the analytics from their email newsletter, they decide which pieces have done well enough to be blogged about. From [there], this individual has a handful of very diverse third-party publishers interested in their content. What does this equate to? For every hour of writing a piece of content, they spend two to three hours working on the distribution of it – within their own channels and beyond. The frequency of publishing is reduced in order to spend more time on the distribution of it.

As Mitch says, great content means great distribution. It means effective distribution. And it has a major place in content marketing.

Time to work on that strategy.

Related posts:

In B2B marketing, content is king


An interesting report was published last week by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs in the US on B2B content marketing and predictions for 2013 in the US market.

Wikipedia defines “content marketing” thus:

Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to attract, acquire and engage clearly defined and understood current and potential consumer bases with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action. Content marketing has benefits in terms of retaining reader attention and improving brand loyalty.

It’s as good a definition as any I’ve seen that focuses on the role of content – reports, videos, white papers, blog posts, whatever it might be – that, very broadly speaking, has a middleman purpose as a catalyst to connect buyer and seller.

While the report – called B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America – is about what’s happening in the US, I think there’s strong validity for looking at this report with UK eyes as well.

According to the report, B2B marketers are spending more, using more tactics and distributing their content on more social networks than they have before. There’s also more uncertainty among B2B marketers on whether they’re employing tactics effectively.


Note the top seven tactics in the chart above:

  • Social media other than blogs – 87%
  • Articles on your own website – 83%
  • E-newsletters – 78%
  • Blogs – 77%
  • Case studies – 71%
  • Video – 70%
  • Articles on other websites – 70%

Gamification is bottom in the popularity table – largely, I suspect, because it’s still very much an emerging channel (and one seriously hyped according to Gartner).

Key points:

  1. On average, B2B marketers are spending 33% of their budgets on content marketing, up from 26% in 2011.
  2. 54% plan on spending more next year.
  3. All content tactics are being used more frequently, with research reports, videos and mobile content seeing the largest increases.
  4. On average, B2B marketers are using five social distribution channels, the most popular being LinkedIn (Twitter was top in each of the past two years).
  5. Main challenge this year: producing enough content (in past years: producing engaging content).

On that fourth point about social distribution channels, it’s also interesting to note the tools and channels now making their way into the B2B repertoire for the first time, as the chart below indicates – from the bottom: Quora, Tumblr, Instagram, Foursquare, StumbleUpon and Pinterest.


Note, too, how Google+ has leapt up compared to last year – 39% now compared to just 13% in 2011 (its launch year).

As you might expect, and as is clearly evident in the report, social is key to everything in B2B content marketing.

It’s a worthwhile report that you will find of value in your B2B business planning. You can get a free copy of the PDF report in return for giving the CMI your contact info. And you can read the CMI’s overview. Or, check the Slideshare presentation.