The Kula Ring podcast is essential listening for manufacturing marketers who want to grow their digital presence and compete online.
Sponsored by Kula Partners—an agency committed to helping leading B2B manufacturers craft digital experiences that transform how they engage buyers, serve customers, and outpace their competition—The Kula Ring podcast features conversations about marketing, sales, and technology with top manufacturing executives from across North America.
The Kula Ring podcast is co-hosted by Kula Partners principals, Carman Pirie and Jeff W. White, both of whom are frequently sought after for their digitally-focused B2B expertise. They regularly share their insights with audiences including conferences like B2B Online and HubSpot’s INBOUND, the Gardner Manufacturing Marketer blog, and other podcasts focused on B2B marketing and technology.
How can manufacturing marketers repurpose existing content for Account-Based Marketing (ABM) campaigns? In this episode of The Kula Ring, Renee Tarnutzer, Marketing Director for Digital at Kerry for North America, talks about reviewing the company’s bank of content marketing in order to make it fit an ABM model. Additionally, she shares their process for compiling target accounts and optimizing content to serve different verticals.
Repurposing Content Marketing for ABM Transcript:
Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White.
Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how you doing, mate?
Carman Pirie: I’m doing lovely. Thank you for asking.
Jeff White: Well, I’m glad you’re doing well.
Carman Pirie: People listening to this that have heard this same intro 40 million times now are wondering like, “What’s he gonna ask next?”
Jeff White: Well, it’s been 113, but I’m sure they’re probably-
Carman Pirie: It can feel like that, maybe.
Jeff White: It’s true, and you know, we did pass a milestone last week. We’ve had over 50,000 listens to the show, and I think that feels like an accomplishment. Feels like a good number.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. That’s kind of fun. You know, it’s a very, very, very niche podcast. You know, we’re not trying to make this for everyone, we’re trying to make this for marketers in manufacturing and those that get that manufacturing marketing is frankly a different kettle of fish. So, that’s not everyone, but there are at least 50,000 folks out there, so that’s kind of cool.
Jeff White: It is indeed, and Spotify is not calling anytime soon to have us replace Joe Rogan.
Carman Pirie: Well, but I think that that could be a positive for Spotify on a number of levels, frankly, i f they did call us up. But we’ll cross that bridge perhaps in the next episode.
Jeff White: Yes. Yes, indeed. Looking forward to our guest today, having another great conversation about ABM. I mean, it’s just it continues to be the topic that is on the minds of a lot of manufacturing marketers and I’m always interested to hear how people are approaching it.
Carman Pirie: Absolutely. Yeah, let’s get going.
Jeff White: Absolutely, so joining us today is Renee Tarnutzer. Renee is the Marketing Director for Digital with Kerry. Welcome to The Kula Ring, Renee.
Renee Tarnutzer: Oh, thank you. I’m excited to be here.
Carman Pirie: Renee, it’s awesome to have you on the show and thank you for bringing such a unique last name to the party and trying to trip Jeff up again. It’s been an ongoing theme here at The Kula Ring to try to get Jeff to mispronounce a last name, so I guess-
Renee Tarnutzer: Fantastic.
Carman Pirie: Yeah, he did all right this time, so it’s kind of disappointing. We can’t make fun of him. But Renee, it’s lovely to have you on the show and please give us a bit of an introduction to Kerry, if you would, for those listening that don’t know of the organization, and a bit about your role there before we get underway.
Renee Tarnutzer: Sure. Absolutely. Kerry is one of the greatest companies you’ll never hear about. We are behind the scenes in a lot of food and beverage ingredients, and the easy way to explain it is that we make great tasting food clean label, and we take clean label foods and make them taste great.
Carman Pirie: Very cool.
Renee Tarnutzer: Yeah.
Carman Pirie: That’s a lovely, succinct way of putting it.
Renee Tarnutzer: Yeah. It makes it really easy to understand and so my role at Kerry has been as the Digital Marketing Director for North America, and as part of that, it’s really been to establish Kerry as a thought leader in the industry with our content marketing, and then use that content marketing for lead generation and demand generation, and over the last year, year and a half, two years, we’ve really been also focusing on trying to start on an ABM journey to make sure that our content is much more personalized for our customers.
Carman Pirie: Very cool, and I do want to get into that. Just for context setting a bit, because I think when people look at a company the size of Kerry, they’re thinking, “My goodness. You probably have a 500 person marketing team.” Give us a bit of an idea of the scale of the marketing organization.
Renee Tarnutzer: The actual digital marketing team is about six people. We also have a design team that is just fantastic. They are a team of about five people, five or six people, and we have an amazing insights team, and both of those other two teams make my job a lot easier. But our insights team consists of three people.
Carman Pirie: Relatively small but mighty, isn’t it?
Renee Tarnutzer: Small but mighty. Yep. We try to make sure that we’re either getting the most bang for our buck, or we’re repurposing, reducing, reusing, as much as we can.
Carman Pirie: I bet. Well, look. Let’s dive into this ABM journey because I know, I think like a lot of marketers you’re kind of in that transition phase, if you will. You’re looking at a bank of content marketing effort and then looking at how do you shift that or pivot it, if you will, to make it fit an ABM kind of model going forward. And I think you’ve been going at it a little bit with that in mind for the last little while, so I’d really like to understand more about your experience there.
Renee Tarnutzer: I think for us, it’s been a fantastic journey, quite frankly. It’s been one of those things that when we started on this, really taking a look at again the content behind it is key, so before you do anything in ABM, you’ve gotta be able to have that content marketing strategy well established, and content that you can use to be able to repurpose for that personalization. When our insights team really was focused on trying to get us great research, great thought leadership that we could start putting out there, then it was a matter of how can we repurpose this into blog content, into email, into interactive tools? How can we reuse these tools to make a better experience with our content?
It became something that very quickly the rest of our organization saw how important that was to just lead generation. As we continued taking a look at okay, this works. It’s a great opportunity to be able to find out what our customers are interested in, find out what prospects are interested in, how can we continue to have those conversations?
Carman Pirie: And at that point, is the content that you’re creating starting to narrow in on verticals or specific applications or pain points?
Renee Tarnutzer: Yep. As we started to take a look at how can we personalize this, the first step was to take a look at the verticals. What might be interesting to one vertical may not be interesting to another, so really making sure that whatever we’re doing is super important to that vertical and gets them to continue to engage.
Carman Pirie: It’s a common way of delineating the different tiers of a target account list, that tier one being one-to-one outreach, tier two being more vertical-specific, and then tier three being everybody we want to sell to, but we don’t want to sell to them enough that we actually are gonna personalize anything.
Renee Tarnutzer: Right.
Carman Pirie: It sounds like you really kind of narrowed in on what some people would think of as that tier two vertical strategy.
Renee Tarnutzer: Absolutely.
Carman Pirie: And begin to narrow the content in there first with a view to at some point taking it to a one-to-one, correct?
Renee Tarnutzer: Absolutely. That has really been our journey, is starting out at the one to many, and then slowly moving into the how do we pilot this into a one to few, and how do we then expand it to be able to be… and for us, it needs to be one to few on different verticals and different channels, so how do we make sure that we’re doing that across the board? With the ultimate goal of being able to get to that one-to-one journey.
And we don’t necessarily have absolutely every tool in place to be able to fully do ABM, and so based on the principles that we know to be true for ABM, based on what we know, we want to get to for an experience for our customers, what pieces can we put in place to help us get to that journey? And kind of modifying it for what our needs are and how we can take what we have, make our proof case, and then with the ultimate goal of being able to get to that one to one with the right tools and the right experience.
Jeff White: Renee, I don’t want to lose sight of the toolset that you’ve put in place and how you’ve been attacking implementing ABM, but I want to go back a little bit, because you’ve been with the company for just under four years, from what I understand.
Renee Tarnutzer: Correct.
Jeff White: How did you approach content at the start of your work there that differs from how you approach it now? Because you didn’t necessarily have that foundation when you came in, if I recall correctly.
Renee Tarnutzer: We absolutely did not. We were doing lead generation that was not centered around content at all, and we got very lucky, we had some new people in the business, and we had some research behind us, and we said, “Great, let’s take it. Let’s run with it.” And it was extremely successful in demand generation. Again, that was really that mass blast. It was relevant to everybody. And it was important to prove the case that thought leadership was the right thing to do, so we needed to prove that case and we did very successfully. And how we’ve kind of evolved that is to then take that mass content and figure out what pieces of it would be relevant for any given vertical and how do we reuse that to make sure that things are relevant to those strategic account strategies that are super important to review and look at as you’re planning your ABM.
Carman Pirie: That’s a funny kind of hinge of this. I’ve been thinking about this a fair bit lately, this notion that if you go down the lens of creating lead gen content, content for what people typically think of as inbound marketing, if you do that with an ABM lens, it leads you to create different content than what you would create if you were just doing it as a lead gen program. Because that, just like you said, it forces you… If you’re thinking about it just through the inbound lens, then your initial predisposition is to say, “Let’s cast as wide a net as possible because I need some content.”
Renee Tarnutzer: Right.
Jeff White: How many firms can I hit with this content?
Carman Pirie: Yeah. I need content that serves a lot of masters then, right? And almost all ABM demands focus. It wants a focus. In some ways, yes, I think ABM and inbound, they can coexist, but I do think the pure methodology is in some ways a bit contradictory.
Renee Tarnutzer: It is.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s an important distinction for most manufacturing marketers versus just B2B marketers.
Renee Tarnutzer: Right.
Carman Pirie: An awful lot of B2B marketers don’t have a finite target account list at all. It’s almost unlimited, but there are only so many people that can buy from Kerry.
Renee Tarnutzer: Right. Well, and I think too it’s helping bring your C-Suite along with you on that journey. Again, you see great success in thought leadership and that mass blast and great, we’re bringing leads, we’re bringing in contacts, they’re engaging with us, and then now all of a sudden you’re going to a program that isn’t going to drive as many leads, that isn’t going to necessarily be that same metric that you’ve been touting for a while.
Carman Pirie: That’s an interesting one, it’s like be careful of the vanity metrics early on because it can come back and haunt you later.
Renee Tarnutzer: Right. But you know, the thing is how we’ve been able to really help bring the C-Suite along with us on that journey is as we continue to evolve, as we continue to be smarter, we need to be that customer-centric focus. For us it’s not a perfect, “Here is our ABM. We’re gonna be that one-to-one.” It’s, “How do we keep our C-Suite happy, and yet how do we bring them on that ABM journey so that we know as we go forward we’re doing the right things for our customers?”
It will continue to be a transition process for us but it’s the right thing to do.
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Jeff White: Yeah, and I love this because it’s often you’re competing, you’re putting the C-Suite against the sales team in some respects, like the C-Suite wants to hear like how many more people did we bring into the site, how many people converted, are they reading our stuff? Are they downloading it? How are we contacting them? And the salespeople are going, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. I don’t want too many of these people because if you give me too many, I know that most of them are gonna be bad, so give me the ones that matter. Give me the ones that do what I…”
Renee Tarnutzer: Right.
Jeff White: How engaged have you been with the sales team at Kerry, as well, in terms of getting their buy-in and getting their thoughts on the content that you’re creating in the ABM program?
Renee Tarnutzer: We have been pretty close in contact with that team to make sure that they understand what is being sent out through our pilot and communicating, and again, this is new for them. Digital is just a new space for that at Kerry, and so being able to help them understand, okay, here’s what a good follow up might look like. Hands down, you know your customer the best. I’m not at all suggesting here’s what you need to say to your customer. But in a typical digital follow up, this is what it might look like, and making sure that we have the right tools for them to have additional conversations with them, so even providing them with some additional, “Here are some blog articles that might be interesting. Here are some other pieces of content that aren’t necessarily digital, but that might be interesting to continue the conversation with them.”
It gives you an opportunity to continue to say, “Hey, I think you might find this interesting, as well.” And really form that partnership so that that communication and that customer-centricity, okay, great, we know you might be interested in this, here’s some additional information that might help you.
Carman Pirie: It’s a great tip. I mean, in some ways if you approach those sales interactions, or as the marketing team if you’re too prescriptive in suggesting what sales ought to be saying to their customers, I mean, they’ll slap your hands pretty quick and suggest you’re out over your skis. And I like your approach to say, “Look, here’s some content that can kind of help further the education journey that you’re bringing your prospect on.” I’m curious how some of this follow up may look in another world. You do it as you wish. That’s probably a nice balance.
Renee Tarnutzer: Right. And I think it’s such an important balance. As marketers, we can only be so successful. As salespeople, we can only be so successful. But when you actually partner together and get everybody working on the same process and the same things, boy, that’s when you can really see the magic happen.
Carman Pirie: Yeah, and especially as you begin to take a more account-focused orientation across the enterprise, the demands that it become more of a synchronized swim is much greater.
Renee Tarnutzer: I like that.
Carman Pirie: That’s a hard… Everybody wants to talk about the integration of sales and marketing and how they’re all on the same team and on and on, but most organizations still have a long way to go. They’re not in the infighting stage like a lot of people were maybe five, ten years ago, but organizations are still kind of different breeds in some way.
Renee Tarnutzer: Right, right. Yeah.
Carman Pirie: Before we get too far away from it, because you mentioned the interactive tool versus other types of content that you create earlier on, and I’m kind of curious. I guess we’ve had a fair bit of experience in the development of interactive tools for lead gen. Find that they, not to lead the witness too much, but we have found over time that they convert almost at twice the rate as static assets, all other things being equal, which they never are. I’d be curious, have you seen a similar kind of performance lift with interactive content versus static? And to what extent have you experimented with making that interactive content more account focused, or one-to-one, or vertical focused?
Renee Tarnutzer: Yeah. The interactive tools that we have done have been really data-based. As we continue to pull our research, how can we use that as a tool to let our customers select for their market, or their specific product, what types of ingredients might be important? One of the most recent that we launched was a productive health tool that actually allowed you to say, “I’m interested in incorporating this type of functionality into my product and these are some of the top 10 actual ingredients that customers perceive to have that functionality.”
Because that is done by product, so a beverage product is going to be looking at something different, and people perceive that as just different for potentially a snack product. It’s already defaulted to a little bit more segmented, but so far we have not fully created an interactive tool for one particular market, but it’s something we’d like to do.
Carman Pirie: It’s a point well taken, though, that it’s already kind of a bit segmented as you-
Renee Tarnutzer: Right.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. And is my hunch correct? Is the conversion rate higher on that type of interactive tool than what you see in some of the static content?
Renee Tarnutzer: Absolutely. And one of the interesting pieces is that it has also become a source for just great conversations for the sales team to be having, and hey, they’ll dive right into it, so it’s just they’re just fantastic tools. It’s great to think out of the box with that.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. It’s a nice way to make the website something that the internal team uses in addition to just prospects and customers.
Renee Tarnutzer: Exactly.
Jeff White: I think that’s often a sign that you’re doing it right, is if you can get the internal team to start using your own website in their conversations with customers and clients.
Renee Tarnutzer: Yep.
Carman Pirie: And when salespeople are telling the prospects, “Don’t go the website,” that’s when you know you’re doing it wrong. Both happen.
Jeff White: Yeah.
Carman Pirie: Well, Renee, this is fantastic. I admire the evolution on this content journey, kind of beginning to think about it through that ABM lens as you pilot this process, and I guess as you look in the crystal ball a bit, where’s it all going? Is it the kind of you’re seeing more expansion of the account-focused approach? Perhaps integrating intent data and things of that sort? I’m just curious. What do you see on the horizon?
Renee Tarnutzer: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I think the future holds for us just getting closer to that ABM. Really making sure that we’ve identified how, what is the best way for us to be segmenting in that one-to-few space, and then how do we start looking at a pilot in the one-to-one space, so that we can again build our proof cases and say, “This is how it actually moves the needle.” Because ultimately we know it’s the right thing to do, but the proof is in the pudding, right? We’ve gotta be able to make some proof cases, so running pilots and making sure that we’re having open dialogues about what’s working, what’s not working, how do we continue to make this better and inch closer to that one-to-one model and then scale it? Because that’s gonna be the next case, is great, we might be able to get to one particular customer that we can do some really great ABM plans, but then with a very small team, how do we make sure that we can scale it appropriately?
Jeff White: We talked a little bit earlier about the fact that you were rolling your own toolset. Are you intending to roll out something larger that gives you more control and more power in that respect? Or are you gonna continue to kind of grow and use these more specific tools that you’ve pulled together?
Renee Tarnutzer: At this time, we’re probably focused on using our own tools, but you know, I would like to get to a point where demand gen or ABM is such a critical piece of our tool house that we look for a specific tool that can really help us with that.
Carman Pirie: I think a lot of people find themselves in that position. I mean, ABM platforms, there’s a variety of them and they all have different feature sets or what have you, but it’s not a small investment for many marketing organizations. And they find themselves in a place where they’re trying to have to present and build proof cases without the benefit of the technology that can really help drive those results. It’s a bit like being asked, “Okay, well, you gotta win this boxing match, but just the left hand’s gonna be behind your back the whole time.” You can do it.
Renee Tarnutzer: Right. It is. And I know this seems strange, but I think as marketers we need to keep the faith. You know what the right thing to do is and you need to make sure that okay, I get it, I get that the investment is high, so you need me to prove it. Great. I’m gonna prove it. We’re gonna continue the dialogue about why this is the right thing to do and we’re gonna get there. I think as marketers, that is our job. We need to think out of the box. How can we use the tools that we have? Nobody is gonna give us the magic million dollar check that says, “Here, whatever you want,” said no marketer ever.
It’s one of those things that, great, I’ll make my proof case, we’ll continue the dialogue, and then how do we get to the place where I know as a marketer it’s the right thing for us to be doing as an organization?
Carman Pirie: Yeah. Absolutely.
Jeff White: Outside of the toolsets and things like that, and thinking a bit beyond the content, one of the things we haven’t really talked about is how you are compiling your target account lists and where you’re sort of going with that side of things, like how are you moving forward with that in terms of continuing to segment and niche or niche down the people that you’re going after?
Carman Pirie: I think that’s an interesting question, Jeff, because I mean every organization does find that typical segmentation or that you would think from the outside looking in isn’t where you end up. There’s some more nuance to it. I’m curious about this, Renee.
Renee Tarnutzer: Right. And I think the key is, and especially when it’s something that if your organization is new at, if your organization doesn’t have those strategic account plans, to start somewhere. Start and just try and figure out, “Okay, what do we think is the best?” And then taking a look at… everything with us with digital is it’s gotta be based in analytics. Start, take a look at the analytics, and then let the analytics drive where your next decision should be. That’s what we’ll be doing going forward, is just making sure that as we do everything, that we’ve got some sort of analytics behind it to say, “Yeah, we feel like this is good. Do we feel like we can move the needle better if we tried this? Great.” Test it. Learn. Continue to advance.
Jeff White: Yeah. One of the things I think you really benefit from is having this three-person insights team, as well. It’s not necessarily a common component of a lot of marketing teams within manufacturers, and I think sometimes that, because good data analysts and good people who can dig into not just the analytics of how things are performing, but also the analytics of your content and the company itself, I have to imagine that they’re playing a big role in helping you determine what to do next.
Renee Tarnutzer: Oh, absolutely. Our insights team, like I said, our insights team and our design team just make us look good when we roll anything out. Being able to have that level of data, if I could advise anyone on one thing, is making sure that you either have someone really great in insights or that you’re using an outside source for insights. It’s critical. It’s critical to creating that thought leadership, it’s critical to helping you drive decisions, all the way along the journey.
Carman Pirie: I was going to ask, Renee, to what extent is the insights team focused on internal data analytics versus market-focused thought leadership and kind of insights on the market itself, and category?
Renee Tarnutzer: They’re much heavier focused on the market category and that type of thing. They are fully willing to help us as time allows with all of the other things and we thoroughly look up to their skillset, so anytime we can get that assistance, we appreciate it beyond anything.
Carman Pirie: That’s really cool. And you’re right, Jeff, I think having an insights team of that magnitude is not that common. I mean, they do exist, but you don’t run into it every day.
Jeff White: So, Renee, what’s next? Where are you headed? What are you looking forward to in… I think everyone in the world is looking forward to 2021 being different than 2020. What are you looking forward to most in-
Carman Pirie: Beyond the vaccine, you mean.
Jeff White: Yeah.
Renee Tarnutzer: You know, I think the food and beverage industry, as with many industries, has really… It’s been impacted both in positive ways and negative ways over the course of the pandemic, and you know, really seeing how this industry takes it on and continues to evolve, continues to develop, continues to innovate I think has been just extraordinary to watch at a time where I know it’s really difficult for everybody.
For myself, for our team, for our organization, it’s really about that customer-centricity, and if nothing else, and I’ve always been great at pivoting and making sure that you’re taking a look at what’s going on and responding, this coronavirus has just been just beyond any pivoting that I had ever experienced before. Continuing to keep that in mind and making sure that anything that’s customer-centric, so we have to pivot to a world that is focused on our customers. It’s gotta be about that, so taking a look through that lens for everything that we do. How are we solving that? How are we providing that additional value to our customers has gotta be what we focus on going forward.
Carman Pirie: Renee, I think that’s a great lesson to look back on when you think about the extent to which five-year plans are useful.
Renee Tarnutzer: Yeah.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. You can’t pivot your way out of 2020. It’s completely different… There’s no if-then statement for 2020 when you start planning for it.
Renee Tarnutzer: Oh, my goodness. So many things learned. So many things learned.
Carman Pirie: Thank you for sharing your expertise with us today. It’s been a real pleasure to have you on the show.
Renee Tarnutzer: It’s been great to be here. Thank you for having me.
Carman Pirie: All the best.
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