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Standing Out From the Crowd: Insights From 12 Marketing Industry Leaders

Posted on Jul 15th, 2019
Written by TopRank Marketing
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  • Standing Out From the Crowd: Insights From 12 Marketing Industry Leaders
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    Standing Out in the Crowd

    It’s time for B2B content marketers to stand out. You know it. I know it. We all know it. 

    But capturing attention in a crowded content room is hard to do, especially when content creation has seen the biggest uptick in spending among your fellow B2B content marketers. You can’t be subtle. You can’t be boring. But you also can’t be obnoxious; relevance and resonance are paramount. You have to accept and adapt to what your audience needs and wants at any given moment. It takes speed, flexibility, bold ideas, fearlessness, and more.

    Where do you start? How about starting with a little inspiration and insight from industry leaders?

    Below we have insights and advice from 12 marketing and customer experience leaders on how to stand out from the crowd and create content your audience can’t ignore. 

    12 Attention-Grabbing Tips from B2B Marketing Experts

    David Meerman Scott1. Eliminate Gobbledygook

    “Always remember that you are communicating to people. Eliminate innovative, cutting-edge, mission-critical, best-of-breed gobbledygook from your writing. Using the same inane language as everybody else ensures you are lost in the crowd.”

    – David Meerman Scott, Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author, Freshspot Marketing

    Follow David on Twitter or LinkedIn.

    Beverly Jackson2. Show How You’re Different

    “Show don’t tell. In order to create an engaging user experience on social platforms, you need to be able to show users something from their perspective not yours. You need to be able to reach into their heart, put your fingers around it, and feel the pulse beat. And video, when done right, can do just that.”

    – Beverly Jackson, Vice President Social Portfolio Strategy, MGM Resorts International

    Follow Beverly on Twitter or LinkedIn. For more insight from Beverly, read our complete interview with her.

    Peter Issacson3. Take a Stand

    “Great content isn’t about platitudes. It’s about provocation. Incitement. Taking a stand and making your audience think in a new way. Giving the counter-argument to conventional wisdom. When we do that, we advance the dialogue, rather than diminish it.”

    – Peter Isaacson, Chief Marketing Officer, Demandbase

    Follow Peter on Twitter or LinkedIn.

    Customer Experience Expert Shep Hyken4. Ignore Your Competitors

    “Marketers need to stop placing so much emphasis on catching up or edging out their direct competitors. Customers don’t compare you to your competitors anymore—they compare you to other positive experiences they’ve had. If you keep chasing what your competitors are doing, you’re always a step behind. That’s a good way to go out of business because you’re just doing what someone else is already doing.”

    – Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations, LLC

    Follow Shep on Twitter or LinkedIn. To hear more advice from Shep on how to wow your audience, read our full conversation with him on convenience and the customer experience.

    Kirsten Allegri Williams5. Empower Others

    “Celebrating success and championing internal entrepreneurship is key: Great ideas can come from anywhere. We are limited only by the constraints we inflict on our vision. So I try to make sure everybody with an idea they think has potential feels they can bring it to my doorstep. That doesn’t mean every idea gets the green light, but it does mean that every idea is heard.”

    – Kirsten Allegri Williams, Chief Marketing Officer, SAP SuccessFactors

    Follow Kirsten on Twitter or LinkedIn. And don’t forget to read our full interview with her to learn about her background and tricks to success.

    Tim Washer of Cisco6. Be Human

    “Comedy is the most powerful way to humanize a brand because it demonstrates empathy. Let’s face it, a lot of true comedy comes from pain. So, when we can come out and touch on a customer pain point, we show them that we understand their point of view. When we do something that is self-deprecating, when we look vulnerable, and when we let our guard down a little bit that’s when we make a connection.”

    – Tim Washer, Emcee and Keynote Speaker, Ridiculous Media

    Hear the rest of Tim’s comedy plus marketing tips by reading our full conversation. And while you’re at it, follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

    Whitney Magnuson7. Partner with Influencers

    “Year over year, we’ve seen consumer trust of brands decreasing, and people turning to seemingly more objective sources when making buying decisions: peers, 3rd party review sites, analysts, etc. Partnering with an influencer allows you to highlight your brand’s own existing narrative in a new way, so that you can reinforce the proof points you really want your customers to know.”

    – Whitney Magnuson, Senior Director of Enterprise Social Media, Hilton

    Follow Whitney on LinkedIn and don’t forget to read the rest of her B2B influencer marketing tips with our complete interview.

    Heather Pemberton Levy8. Put the Story First

    “Create a structure for creating content that always begins with a story your reader can identify with and uses this moment to bridge their point of view with your brand’s unique selling point. Many marketers still talk about their products and services in terms of what they can do for their audience rather than what the audience cares about, why that’s important and how their solution can help solve the problem. Stories have the power to engage prospects with an emotional hook that endears them to a brand more successfully than standard marketing copy.”

    – Heather Pemberton Levy, Vice President of Content Marketing, Gartner

    For more content marketing advice from Heather, follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn or read our conversation with her.

    Ann Handley9. Slow It Down 

    “It’s important to slow down our marketing to get the basics right. Like developing a documented content strategy. Like doing the required research. Like developing robust, non-one-dimensional Flat Stanley buyer personas. Like articulating your bigger story. Like investing in quality: excellent writing (and editing) and storytelling.”

    – Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

    Want more genius advice from Ann? Read our interview with her or give her a follow on Twitter and LinkedIn.

    Peter Krmpotic10. Do Your Research

    “We have the people, the data, and the tools to create engaging content at scale, yet we often jumpstart the process of creating content without the required thoughtfulness on the initial critical steps. It is essential to be clear which audiences we are targeting and subsequently to define clear goals for the message we are creating. To this day, most brands need to improve at this stage, otherwise the best content marketer in the world cannot create an effective piece of engaging content.”

    – Peter Krmpotic, Director of Product for Einstein, Salesforce

    Hear more from Peter by following him on LinkedIn or Twitter, or by reading (you guessed it) our interview with him on creating a steady content supply chain.

    Tamsen Webster11. Don’t Be a People Pleaser

    “We want customers to feel a part of the brand. We want them to feel like the brand belongs to them. But then too often we send out ‘one size fits most’ messages… and wonder why we don’t get that sense of belonging that’s a hallmark of great brands. Your brand is not for everyone. It isn’t. It’s for the people who want something you can help them get, who value the same things you do, and who see the world the same way you do. And that’s not everyone. Full stop.”

    – Tamsen Webster, Founder and Chief Message Strategist, Find the Red Thread

    Follow Tamsen on LinkedIn or Twitter for more poignant advice. Or, read our interview with her for tips on how to drive change in marketing. 

    JP Medved12. Experiment More

    “Most of our content fails. Like, over 90% of it. And that’s not at all uncommon in the content marketing world. If everyone knew the exact ingredients to a “viral” content piece, that’s all anyone would produce. But we don’t know. Pieces I think will do really well, more-often-than-not sink without a trace, and pieces that seem like throwaways can take off because they’ve tapped into some pent-up need in the marketplace of ideas.”

    – J.P. Medved, Content Strategist and Novelist

    Learn about the different experimenting J.P. has done by reading our interview with him. Give him a follow on LinkedIn for more insight and updates on his next novel.

    Not the Norm, and Proud Of It

    Rarely does anyone want the same old, same old. So, don’t give your audience more of the same. Use the advice above to your advantage and break the norm, separate yourself from the pack, try something new, or reiterate on a great idea. The more you can break the mold, the more you’ll stand out amongst the crowd.

    For more advice on how to stand out, read our guide on how to Break Free of Boring B2B featuring more expert insight and best practices.