B2B content is broken (but we can fix it)

B2B content is broken. It always has been, but the pandemic has exposed the problem like never before.

The rising adoption of marketing tools and platforms has leveled the playing field for leading firms and startups alike. It’s more cost-efficient than ever, but it’s not cost-effective to blanket the market with cheap but poorly targeted messages. All that guarantees is that more people will be turned off and will click away from content that sounds more like a conference-hall presentation than the one-on-one conversation every message should be.

In a nutshell, the language of business is too often generic, and addresses audiences en masse instead of appealing to individual needs in both content and tone. In turn, the business of language is too often broken when writers and clients fail to work in a collaborative, creative targeting partnership. It’s what I strive for in producing both editorial and media content.

What can you do to improve your content? I can’t tell you in a short rant, but here’s a quickie roadmap:

  1. RETHINK your approach to reflect the reality of message and media consumption: It’s intimate. Engage individuals, not people, and don’t assume SEO, SEM, analytics and a marketing automation platform can do it all. 
  2. POUNCE on hiring creative people who “get” that mindset and offer new ideas to light-up your audience(s). People who believe good content provides an opportunity to engage, differentiate and promote click-through to your also well-crafted landing pages, webinars, blogs, reports … all content you post, publish, track and measure.
  3. IMPROVE good copy with a tighter collaboration between your best content creators and your data geeks to close the feedback loop in “realer real time” than you currently do. Close the gaps, adjust your market appeals and engineer incremental gains — practice actual teamwork for continuous improvement.

Change your mind, change your culture. It’s your best inoculation against mediocrity.

Retail analytics: Here’s lookin’ at you, kids

I recently reunited with FoodOnline.com to write a story on Big Data analytics in the retail food supply chain. The first bylines I had for that site were in 1999, when I was Editorial Director for that related sites — before the big bursting of the Internet Bubble. Accenture’s Stages of Analytic Capabilities

When the Internet was new, there were no iPods, let alone iOS, Android or Bluetooth-powered beacons; Big Data was just a gleam in its young Business Intelligence mother’s eye. And retailers had no idea what to really do with their Business Intelligence systems. Those who finally do, today, see BI as old news as analytics — predictive and now prescriptive — come into their own, powered by Big Data and cloud computing.

Today, as an exec from SAS told me, a shopper who stands in front of a Nescafé display for more than 10 seconds might just get a virtual tap on the shoulder, or rather a bzzzz in the pocket, with a coupon to get that package of coffee off the shelf and in to the cart.

My favorite interview in this story just might have been Nick Hodson, former head of strategy at Safeway Stores and current leader of the North American consumer and retail business practice of Strategy& PwC, who reminded me that the technology isn’t at all the point of progress so much as creative minds who come-up with new things to do with it. Yes, major retail marketers from Walmart and Nestlé may well fave a backlash over privacy concerns if opt-in/out issues aren’t handled correctly, but these times sure are interesting. Read all about it in my story, ” Predictive Analytics Helping CPGs Reach Individual Consumers.”

A DYI ‘shroom farm? A fish-tank herb garden?

“That’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen,” the Whole Foods buyer told Nikhil Arora, who opened a big & stanky bag-o-fungus in the buyer’s office. To the young innovator, that bagful was the crown jewel of a new product he’d liken to a “next iPhone” for natural products fans.

He was kinda right, as you’ll find out if you read the story — “Home mushroom farming, fish-gardening and other supply chain collaboration challenges,” — that I wrote when I saw Nikhil in my travels on the packaging beat. Over the next few years he found the right suphttps://www.packworld.com/article/contract-packaging/contract-packaging-news-trends/home-mushroom-farming-fish-gardening-andliers for his DIY mushroom kits and then a cool aquaponic fishtank-meets-herb-garden kit.

New product to bow end-February 2015.

New product to bow end-February 2015.

Now he Alejandro Velez, co-founders of Back to the Roots, are at it again; they’ll unveil a new product on February 26th.

What’s it gonna be? I don’t know, but I couldn’t be happier to see these folks start so small and gain national distribution so quickly with such simple, honest ideas.

Rock on, guys.

How ‘Social’ marketing is like Soylent Green

Goin' social in Tucson

Goin’ social with the Contract Packaging Association at the Tucson Omni/National

Okay, we get that Spam — the canned pink, meaty stuff — has a protected trademark, unless it has a lowercase “s,” in which it’s less edible still. And Kleenex ain’t just any paper product. Unlike brand names, however, in the struggle to make “social” interactions relevant, there aren’t many actual rules to governing relationships.

What’s social networking in a B2B sector where smallish businesses do outsourced manufacturing and packaging services for large brand-owners? The key — just as in the movie Soylent Green  — isn’t about industrial machinery, it’s…people.

Presentations, discussions with attendees and deep thoughts at a winter confab of the Contract Packaging Association led me to wonder how this group of (mostly) small business execs is un/like their counterparts in other sectors. One of the presenters, following a group participation event, noted that he’d never seen a group with so many self-identified “socializers” vs. other kinds of personality types. Then came dinner, drinks and a day of golfing around. So yeah.

It was a fun trip that led me to write a short column on those personalities, and the “people thing,” in my column for Contract Packaging magazine: “Where’s this Relationship Going?

iPhone app for prescriptions seeks to tap a new-ish $100 billion market

Goin’ mobile: How many people never fill that first prescription? Not to worry; there’s an app on the way for that, too — GetMyRx — as we reported in this story at Pharmaceutical Commerce.

getMyRxDeveloper GetMyRx Inc.’s CEO Luis Angel says “at least a few hundred” scrips have been filled” since the iPhone app’s soft launch in the Miami-Dade, Fla., market in November last year. The app links to fee-paying pharmacies in Angel’s network, as opposed to a single store or chain, and lets people enter data or scan labels as well as insurance cards, coupons and related discount cards. New York and San Fran are top-priority markets for rollout perhaps by summer, Angel told me.

This and other moves by chains are hope to combat patient abandonment issues surrounding initial prescription fills, which a Harvard study indicates may constitute 30% of patients and Angel says has gotta represent a market worth at least $100 billion.

When Big Pharma brands shed their sales reps, you know outsourcing’s here to stay.

Major brands in various industries have shed all but their deepest core competencies. For the largest U.S. and global brands, this has typically led to a major offloading of manufacturing, packaging and distribution- and logistics-related functions. The reason is simple; for many if not most brands, much of those functions are commodities, whereas the real and profit-adding value to the brand is the brand itself. When the product can be manufactured and otherwise acted upon using standard equipment, processes and services that meet the brand’s specifications, even the sales function can be outsourced.

Sales is so closely linked to marketing in the Big Brand wheelhouse, it may surprise you to learn that sales, even in the highly specialized life sciences business, is often outsourced. How much of the Big Pharma sales force is outsourced depends on lots of product variables, but the use CSOs, or contract sales organizations, has been mainstream for many years.


How do pharma firms and their CSOs manage the ebbs and flows of the market and tenor workforces? In part, CSOs have been busy scooping-up experienced sales reps as brands reduce their headcount. CSOs area also laying the ground work for global growth through enhanced IT competency, broader service offerings and international partnerships and acquisitions.  Online and mobile app use and the resulting collaborative capabilities of sales force software has only hastened the integration of in-house and outside contractors in communicating to customers, in this case healthcare providers. (See article linked below for an explanation of the graphic.)

I recently investigated the phenomenon and wrote what I found in a feature for Pharmaceutical Commerce magazine. Learn more by reading the story, “CSOs broaden their palette of service offerings.”