Led by: Jen Grant, CMO, Looker and Drew Neisser, Founder & CEO, Renegade

Jen Grant
Drew Neisser






CMOs firmly believe that a thoughtful content strategy is key to their marketing plan. However, very few felt they had an ironclad strategy. 
Rather than provide answers, Drew Neisser, Founder, and CEO of Renegade, started the session with a piece of advice.

Drew Neisser– “Assume no one wants to engage with your content.”

According to a Nielson Total Audience Report, adults spend an average of 11 hours per day consuming content. How do we cut through the noise? How do we create content that invites engagement?

Create Content Around a Strategic Insight

Jen Grant, CMO of Looker, recognizes that prospects have many options when it comes to platforms.  She discovered that her customers’ and prospects’ greatest need is to understand databases.

Jen Grant– “We broke through the content clutter by creating a pocket guide to databases and developing an eight-week course on databases. This had nothing to do with our product, but it served the need of our customers and prospects and was therefore very effective.”

Ian Howell, VP and Head of Marketing at Sage Intacct, learns what customers need through extensive interviews. The company conducts at least 50 interviews on each micro-vertical. Executives are trained to ask the right questions.

Ian Howell– “Is there anything I didn’t ask you that I should have?

Drew Neisser shared a story from Brent Adamson’s recent book, The Challenger Customers, it which Dentsply was having difficulty selling a lightweight tool to dentists who felt they had enough tools. Rather than continue to create content about the features of the new tool, the company helped the dentists understand the costs of hygienist absenteeism via a calculator and other content that showed how their current heavy tools were leading to carpal tunnel syndrome and other maladies.

Keep it Real

Brands test content for engagement and invariably, the most authentic posts win. The group discussed how many fashion brands are staying away from overly touched-up posts because they get quickly rejected. Labeled by Bloomberg as “Instagram’s First Retail Success,” Brandy Melville has relied entirely on digital content from the outset. Much of their content comes from real customers who visit the stores wearing Brandy Melville merchandise.  Andrea Fasulo, SVP, Consumer Products Marketing & Global Home Entertainment, Viacom / Nickelodeon Consumer Product, confirmed the notion that younger customers demand authenticity.

Andrea Fasulo– “Teens outright reject any photos or videos that are too glossy or contrived.”

The desire for authenticity is not limited to younger consumers, according to Casey Foss of West Monroe Partners.

Casey Foss– “While our product videos can be high production value, our recruitment videos actually perform best when they are less polished because they are deemed more authentic.”

A tried and true method for keeping it real involves your customers.

Drew Neisser– “Every customer is a potential source of content and consumer of content.”

Address Emotional Needs

Carol Kruse, former CMO of Cambia Health explains that only content that aligns with an emotional need is effective.

Carol Kruse– “Getting people to follow a treatment plan is very difficult, some people are in denial regarding being at high risk, others don’t want to change their lifestyle. So much of what a doctor says is functional. To get through, we address their emotional needs in short videos, podcasts, and paper form.”

Tariq Hassan, CMO, of Petco, shared how they are finding subject areas that their customers are interested and personalizing it.

Tariq Hassan– “Dog owners typically don’t walk their dogs enough, so they are creating content that educates them on the correct length based on age and breed.  Petco can do this because a large percentage of transactions happen via their rewards card and this enables a high degree of personalization.”

Final Thought

Drew Neisser– “All pieces have to add up. Everything has to come back to your why and resonate with your target.” He noted that one company doing great content is Drift, the chatbot folks. They’ve created an impressive range of podcasts and just released a book called Conversation Marketing, which is the big idea that informs of all their content.