The view from over there:
A conversation with Ethel Klein at Konica Minolta

The view from over there:
A conversation with Ethel Klein at Konica Minolta

At B2B marketing events and conferences, we can often be found shooting the breeze with our industry peers.

Typically, we hear all about data, intent, sales & marketing alignment, ABM, tech stacks, content, programmatic, and personalization. But do you know what rarely gets a mention? Good creative.

And when you stop to consider just how vital good creative is to almost every aspect of successful marketing, that’s pretty strange.

That’s why we are inviting ambitious marketing leaders to tell us all about their own creative processes, what they see as the role of creativity, and how they’ve seen creative tackle huge business challenges.

Jeff Matteuzzi, SVP Strategy at Earnezt, recently sat down with Ethel Klein, Senior Marketing Manager at Konica Minolta, to share ‘The view from over there’

Ethel Klein
Senior Marketing Manager
Konica Minolta

══════════════════

Jeff Matteuzzi (SVP Strategy, Earnezt)
Ethel, can you let us know what you and the team at Konica-Minolta have been up to and what you’re working on?

Ethel Klein (Senior Marketing Manager, Konica Minolta)
We’re working on refreshing our regular old advertising and marketing model to try to go more ‘old school’. In fact, we’re actually incorporating more direct mail because we don’t feel like it’s a dead channel.

We’ll be doing a lot more of that and experiential marketing so that people can have the experience with our product and services to try to get them more ‘hands-on’. 

We’re also focusing on our managed IT services portfolio and rolling that out through the next couple of years. And yeah, I’d say we’re trying to ‘disrupt’ the market with some of our marketing efforts and simply do all those things better than our competitors do.

Jeff
That’s great. And I like that there’s a focus on direct mail – it seems like the right time as direct mail has seemingly fallen out of favor to the likes of digital. But it really does allow you to zig when others zag, huh?

Ethel 
But that’s the whole thing; it’s almost like being an early adopter. You kind of have to look at it that way, in that if you can get in there before everyone else. You’re set, but you have to do it before it gets mainstream and everyone else is doing it (again).

Jeff
Okay, something I always like to talk about is the differences between B2B and B2C. When most people think about marketing and advertising, I find they tend to think more of B2C brands. How would you score the creativity levels of B2B relative to B2C?

Ethel
I just saw a very creative campaign on YouTube from Bed, Bath & Beyond and it was all about ‘offline’ shopping. It just featured two people preparing their wedding registry, but they’re in the store and the question gets posed ‘what is this?’ 

And the spot states that it’s this new concept called offline shopping, which is of course ridiculous because it’s basically people going into a store and buying stuff and actually touching it, you know? 

That resonated with me in this day and age and I thought it was pretty clever. It paints the web as a place polluted with clutter and confusion when you compare it to an actual in-store experience.

Jeff
Do you think that B2C brands have more creative freedom to be playful than B2B brands?

Ethel
Yeah, I think B2C is a little bit of a different approach, right? Because you’re not necessarily selling to a business that’s going through a whole RFP process with a wide range of considerations; it’s just not that playful and far more complicated. B2C can afford a looseness and everyday type of causal interaction compared to B2B, which is more stringent and serious, in certain cases. 

Jeff
Yeah, I think you’re right and I think it really is a function of that customer journey. It doesn’t take much for me to see a Bed Bath and Beyond ad and then pop into a Bed Bath and Beyond if I pass one. And of course, I better have my 20% off coupon that they mail me just about every single day.

Ethel
That coupon actually works for me because it makes me want to buy more stuff.

Jeff
Well, how about B2B brands? Is there a B2B campaign you’ve seen that you were impressed by?

Ethel
Here at Konica Minolta, we have a great, and very visually stimulating campaign that’s running now, where we’re promoting a new product, which combines both of our business units. So you can think of it as the hardware and the software all-in-one. We call it the ‘Workplace Hub’ and it’s a good synergy across all of our business units. Workplace Hub is a scalable platform that offers industry-leading hardware, software, and security, and combines that with a full suite of managed IT services and solutions into a single package. It gives organizations control over IT spending while providing the convenience of working with a single provider for all your IT needs. 

And the campaign we’re running is visually very beautiful with great video and well thought out brochures, which brings it into the physical world. But it’s all about the workplace of the future and not to be funny here, but we think it’s a little “disruptive” given the uniqueness in the market; there’s no one else with this offering in our space.

Jeff 
I want to get into how the team came up with the idea and what the creative process looked like – did you build that content internally or did you turn to an outside resource?

Ethel
Both. We do have external vendors and agencies that we work with, because often there’s just so much that needs to be done across all of our business units and regions. 

This has already launched in Europe, and we recently brought it to the US. We’re still in the rollout phase because big initiatives like this take time, especially at larger organizations. 

But we handled all of the content development in-house, but used outside help for the look and feel portion.

Jeff
How are you distributing this content?

Ethel
Right now, mostly email, but we’ll move to direct mail pieces once we get fully launched. We have an open house planned that will feature this as well as an innovation showcase that will go on the road to 3 markets – one of which is Boston, my favorite city to visit. It’ll start on the east coast and then launch into a full roadshow throughout the rest of the country.

Jeff
How technical does this content get?

Ethel
It’s not overly technical as we’re stressing this idea of all of your solutions rolled into one offering. One of the elements is a flipbook but there’s also an infographic. In fact, there’s a whole media library that you can look at with clickable links.

Jeff
Let’s talk lead gen and demand gen if that’s okay. I like the simplicity and beauty of this content and campaign, as you’re describing it, but I have to ask how this fits in with the more technical content that B2B marketers use for lead gen; is there a way creativity can be used to spice these pieces up or are those technical pieces a necessary evil?

Ethel
I think it really depends on the audience, to be honest. If the dry stuff is what your audience is looking for then you need to deliver it. With this campaign, however, we’re really trying to deliver more of a visual appeal.

With the infographics and videos coupled with the appealing look and feel, we wanted to create something that’s enticing for you to want to consume them. So while this is more consumable, I do think that the technical content is just the nature of the beast; the whitepapers and the technical eBooks, they have to exist.

But I would say that we’ll probably use them more for nurture tracks. I would say, though, that for this more consumable and quick content, we don’t want it to be technical. We want it to act as gateway content, to bring someone in softly so that they’ll quickly understand the problem our solutions solves for versus overloading someone right off the bat with too much information because then they’ll be like, ‘What the heck do I do with all of this?’

Jeff
I think you’re right and I think it’s a function of where they are in the journey and who they are, meaning what specific role they have on the buying committee. You talked about experience being really a big initiative for you and I think the customer experience should be agile or fluid. It should adjust and account for where you are in the journey as an organization and what role you play.

Ethel
100%. I totally agree. It’s so important to understand the various buyer personas and who’s going to be consuming it and how they’re going to be using this information. And you’re right, if they’re just going to be stamping it or if they’re going to be passing it along to someone else as opposed to actually hoping to continue the conversation, marketing needs to understand that.

Jeff
We fully understand how critical it is to have a deep understanding of ideal customer profiles at the account level, but also at the individual record level.

But that’s often such a hard thing for brands to do, especially at larger enterprises, because frequently marketing doesn’t have access to that data; it’s sitting with sales and it’s not being properly analyzed through a marketing lens. And if it is being analyzed, it’s often not being shared back with marketing.

One thing we’ve done to combat that is hosting customer advocacy panels on behalf of our clients where we talk to existing customers and discuss not only how they’re using the product, what that experience looks like, and what they want to see on the roadmap but also what triggered the search for the solution in the first place, how the journey unfolded, and what factors drove their decision.

Because once you understand that, it helps influence the development of the content from the language and tone to the overall messaging as well as the look and feel. You know, the emotional component of the content.

Ethel
I love it. I think that’s something we need to take a serious look at.

Jeff
I just want to ask a few more questions around your own personal creative process as well as the organization’s; what does it look like, who’s involved, how long does it take, etc.?

Ethel
I would say that it takes a lot of research, certainly in the beginning, to understand what’s out in the marketplace already—what’s good and what’s not—so you can model yourself after something that you feel is a great piece and performs well. 

You know, imitation is the best form of flattery. I see that research as due diligence and it’s an important step in helping you figure out what to build. But yes, it does have to go through all the lines of people, process, conversations, and strategy sessions, etc. before it could even really materialize into something. 

It takes a lot of understanding in the beginning to get what exactly it is that you want to put together and have it not just make sense, but really be impactful. Because what’s the point of putting together content to just throw against the wall to see what sticks? That’s definitely not the mentality around here. It’s really about making the content and optimizing it to use the best way that we can and get the most out of it that we can.

I don’t know if that really answers the question, but the creative process is a long one, there are so many components to it but at the end of the day, what we’re really trying to achieve is to get some really great pieces of content that are effective. And we look to get a lot out of each piece; we’re not just developing an ebook or a whitepaper every other week just to do it; we’re really trying to get the most out of it that we can.

Jeff
That’s really great to hear. A follow-up question based on what you said; how involved are the sales teams in the development of that content, or at least in the overall process?

Ethel
We’re really trying to get better at that because we do have a pretty good transparency policy with sales and we continue to strive towards alignment. 

For 2020, we’re working on backing up all of the marketing that we’re doing with sales enablement pieces so that sales can follow through more easily. 

We’re transparent with sales about what we’re doing, what we’re planning and then having them carry that follow up through with their reps so that the whole message is consistent for prospects and customers. 

That’s important because when sales reaches out, it’s synced up with a marketing blitz and prospects have an easier time relating to the story that sales is telling. As opposed to just calling up cold, and not telling a consistent story. 

Aligned and targeted messages pays off over time if you can keep the cadence up. So, the short of it, yes—sales is very much involved in what marketing is doing.

Jeff
That’s great because I think that’s the right way to tackle it. My last question is; how do you measure the impact of the content—of the aligned marketing and sales outreach?

Ethel
We rely heavily on our analytics team that goes into our CRM and Marketing Automation tool and pulls out performance data. But we also look to the sales follow up because, again, we’re not just building content for content’s sake. 

The sales follow up is key and we look at lead engagement for what we’re creating. But we’ll get better with our data and eventually marry the importance of marketing touches around our content plus sales follow up.

Jeff
Ethel—thank you so much for sitting down with me.

Ethel
This was fun! Can we do this every Thursday? 

══════════════════

We have more talks on the way, and if you’d like to be one of them and share your own ‘view from over there’ please do let us know.

Categories

Inspiration

Keywords

Earnezt

══════════════════

Author Photo

Sarah Przybylak

Client Lead at Earnezt