In this article, Vinnie Romano from Dough Digital shares this journey and insights into helping grow B2B business clients.
- Q: Can you introduce yourself and share what inspired you to get into digital and content marketing?
- Q: As an independent consultant, how are you helping your clients in B2B growth? Are you still working with financial and tech kinds of clients?
- Q: What do you think about that problem? Is it with startups or established businesses only or with both?
- Q: How do you help your clients to develop that buyer persona, identify all the steps in the very journey and map down the content that they need to move forwards in their buying journey?
- Q: What do you think that some writers missed in the process that would make their content more effective?
- Q: How do you advise startups to do content marketing effectively?
Q: Can you introduce yourself and share what inspired you to get into digital and content marketing?
I have been a part of different companies, and I have been advertising for 16 years. I have worked in large agencies around London, Sydney, Brisbane, and the US. In January 2015, I started my own agency, a B2B content marketing automation agency called Frisbee, and I sold that two to three years ago.
Since then, I have become a consultant and helped agencies in content marketing; their brands put me in front of their clients. As a consultant, I am now using Dough digital, my brand name.
I am working independently as a consultant, but I am also working with an agency in Brisbane that shares my values, called Hunt and Hawk.
It’s worth noting that 16 years ago, I joined publicist London, one of the world’s largest advertising agency holding groups.
I entered very much in an above-the-line sphere, so it was a lot of TVs, print, and outdoor radio, and very much of websites and a lot of static imagery; there wasn’t anything else.
At the time, I was 21 years old, and it was new at that time, so it was like a natural progression to push that sort of stuff towards the people of my age.
There was not any merit in it. But, if I talked about when I got the aha moment to get into content marketing for the B2B sector, then I would say it was in the second year of running Frisbee.
We had been calling ourselves a content marketing agency from the beginning. We have been creating content for digital and social tiles using a growth marketing strategy, for a mixture of different clients, for some local small businesses and large multinational corporate brands in the financial services and tech space.
I wanted to take the company to a more corporate side, and eventually, we happened to carve out our niche in the B2B marketing space, where my traditional training had been in B2C marketing.
We tended to gravitate towards that B2B marketing space mainly because I feel that as a new agency, we can offer similar services to that of a B2C traditional agency, and what’s interesting between B2B and B2C is that B2B company has longer sales cycles.
So if you are a business selling to another business, you have more people involved in the decision-making process, which means that that sales cycle is ultimately so much longer.
As we were already working for big finance and tech brands, it seemed easy to pick up more in this space due to case studies mainly.
Q: As an independent consultant, how are you helping your clients in B2B growth? Are you still working with financial and tech kinds of clients?
As of today, I am playing both roles. Personally, I don’t talk about growth marketing or sales until the end. Those operations are merely a byproduct of the business’s health from a transparency of objectives perspective.
So I always start with the business objective. What is your business objective? Are you trying to grow sustainably over the next 20 to 30 years and leave a legacy? Are you looking to multiply and sell and exit? Or are you a lifestyle business? That’s a question that you can only ask smaller enterprises.
So depending on the size of the business, I don’t talk about sales and B2B growth marketing until the very end. Even though those are my expertise, and that’s where I’ve spent the majority of my career.
I got to understand and get buy-in from the senior leadership team, and I do this to demonstrate that your sales and marketing won’t give you the results you want until everyone in the leadership team is aligned.
We identify the gaps together from a business level and manage our way through the alignment of sales, marketing, and customer success.
For example, I had a gym brand that needed help with B2B marketing. I asked them what the state of the business was? What are you trying to achieve?
Everything from the CEO level and downwards, we need to figure that out because if the CEO isn’t communicating correctly and clearly and transparently with the rest of the team as to what the direction of the business is, everyone’s going to be running around like they don’t know what they’re doing.
The same is true within sales and marketing. If the business doesn’t know what it’s doing, the marketing will be confused, leading to a confused customer.
Marketing should be the last thing that any company does, so I suppose that’s where I start. That’s the value that I think is being able to work; back upwards from sales or marketing or customer success or product and really looking at it from the top-level perspective and then figuring out what that messaging and marketing strategy should be.
Q: What do you think about that problem? Is it with startups or established businesses only or with both?
Yes, both of them have this problem, especially the established business. I think it happens for different reasons. When the company starts, it starts with a problem that we need to solve. As a result, we can generate some revenue and truncate our hard costs. So ticking both boxes, we’re solving a business problem, and we’re going to make money off it.
As a startup mentor, I tend to come across these people starting businesses. They are going through startup accelerators. The ones who join these startup accelerators tend to be the people in the corporate world before.
They’ve been through it as an employee in a big corporation and realized that there’s this tiny little gap that they need to solve. So the experience they have and bring to the table, they might not have all the money in the world, but they’ve got that sort of expertise in some way and double down on that.
Whereas, in larger businesses, you generally find that people rise through the ranks. People get promoted, and we’re talking about people that are serial employees. They haven’t done a startup themselves, they haven’t worked outside of this comfort zone, and it’s not a criticism; it’s just a fact.
They haven’t experienced what it’s like to double down on something with their own money. It’s like a game of poker. If you’re playing a poker game without real money, it’s a different game.
When you start playing with the actual money you’ve earned yourself, a more prominent gambler is at stake. Whereas at the startup level, you can’t afford to not look at what the customer wants because you’re like, ‘i want to get this right.’
Q: How do you help your clients to develop that buyer persona, identify all the steps in the very journey and map down the content that they need to move forwards in their buying journey?
If we’re talking specifically about B2B, for me, it’s all about trust. How do you build that trust? First, you’ve got to identify where your people are on the path to purchase? So this was something that I implemented for Lenovo at an Asia Pacific level.
Lenovo was a client of mine back at Frisbee days and helped the APJ team through this process and bucket out where all their potential customers were on the path to purchase, cleaning up their CRM, and filling in any holes on the customer journey that they needed to be.
You’ve got acquisition on one side and retention on the other so that you’re not losing any customers; you’re not missing out on converting customers. The key to this is a lead scoring system. You’ve got the lead scoring system in place, but at what point is there marketing handoff to sales handoff?
Because there is not that marketing and sales alignment, and the way in which you achieve that is by having marketers understand how to sell and having salespeople start marketing themselves. So you’ve almost got to teach the two different teams what the other team does.
You have to get the marketing team to write content, but that doesn’t happen. Marketers want that to happen, but they don’t know how to go about it, so sales and marketing alignment is a big big problem, and it still does not get sorted out yet.
Q: What do you think that some writers missed in the process that would make their content more effective?
I have worked with many writers, and if they are missing something, it’s more likely going to be either experience in the field, research, or an inability to write in the tone of voice of the person that they should be writing. Those are the three things I look for when recruiting a writer.
Q: How do you advise startups to do content marketing effectively?
I would say be transparent, align your team’s thinking, get everyone on board with the objective and become proactive, not reactive. Think long term to identify what you can do in the short term; that will bear fruit.
Not always think long term and work backward to identify the short-term opportunities. The third one I’d probably say is that in today’s climate, be ethical, not opportunistic.