Ashley Zeckman

Carlos Abler of 3M Asks B2BMX Attendees: Can Marketing Save the World?

Ashley Zeckman on Feb 26th, 2019     B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Marketing PR Conferences

For many B2B marketers, it can be so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tactics of marketing to where we don’t take the time to pause and ask ourselves: Can marketing save the world?

To help us answer that question, Carlos Abler, Leader of Content Marketing & Strategy at 3M took the stage for a keynote at the B2B Marketing Exchange conference in Scottsdale, AZ.

In his keynote, Carlos shared a variety of ways that B2B marketers can approach marketing differently to increase their impact on customers, prospects and the world. Below are some of the key takeaways.

3 Ways Marketing Can Save the World

Marketers as Publishers

In the 21st century, it’s no surprise that the internet has become THE location for conducting business. We know that the majority of customer relations are done through content. Why? The internet allows consumers to self-serve.

We also know that if your B2B brand isn’t there to answer the questions of your prospects, someone else will, and therefore win the business.

And while it’s essential that brands become publishers as a means to provide excellent content and have a presence, it’s an incomplete approach and one that finds marketers stuck.

Why Are We Stuck? Today’s marketers are finding themselves in a black hole of sorts. They continue to pump content into the void. Even when deploying a mix of great tactics, something is missing.

Successful Brands Looking Outside of Business for Inspiration

One of the best frameworks for brands to follow for profitability actually doesn’t come from businesses at all says Carlos. He shares that it will become inevitable that brands learn social entrepreneurship and how it can help guide their business.

Social entrepreneurship is defined by Wikipedia as the use of start-up companies and other entrepreneurs to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues.

Brands that have followed this model have time and again seen an increase in exposure, awareness and ultimately: leads.

AmEx Open is a great example of an organization that provides valuable insights for their customers and prospects, without creating content that is hyper-focused on their product. They’ve won numerous awards and increased business substantially by creating a community of connected professionals looking to solve common business problems. In fact, it’s their number one source for their small business credit division according to Carlos.

Kraft is another company that is successfully targeting and inspiring their audience to come back again and again to binge on their content (and recipes). In fact, Carlos shared that their online community generates a staggering 19.5M monthly users.

Making The World Better Through Sustainable Development Goals

Over the years, the United Nations has developed a list of 17 goals that are focused on sharing a blueprint of peace and prosperity for people and the planet. Here is the full list of goals from the United Nations website:

There is a large number of enterprise, mid-sized and small businesses that have started to rework their infrastructure to make these goals an integral part of their brand.

One example of such a company is enterprise brand SAP.

Recently, our team partnered on an influencer-driven content program with SAP to highlight three of those core pillars including:

  • Gender Equality
  • Safe Supply Chain
  • Global Education

As a part of this program, we reached out to business leaders and activists supporting these key pillars and included them as part of a podcasting interview series. The whole interactive experience can be found on the SAP website.

In his presentation, Carlos also shared a best practice example from the world of social innovation from which businesses can learn a great deal. Aponjon is a project from Bangladesh, that ladders up to Sustainability Development Goal 3, Good Health and Well Being.

Aponjon is a text message-based information service designed to help reduce infant and maternal mortality. Women receive multiple texts per week synched to the timing of their pregnancy up to the child’s second year of life. Within 16 months, Aponjon earned the subscriptions of 600,000 young women—an enviable achievement for a content marketing program. If a company delivering healthcare and personal safety-related products and services were to scale this solution across multiple geographies, they could conceivably realize a customer database of a billion people, Carlos said.

Additionally, this content-as-a-service program is GDPR friendly, high-frequency touch, and is a profit center because a nominal fee is charged for the service. The fee is waived for the super-poor, but nonetheless, 80% of subscribers pay. Carlos stated that this fact makes this one of the best proof-points that people will pay, even voluntarily for relevance if it delivered.

By replicating and scaling this type of solution globally, a business can create a powerful content marketing platform with rich first-party data, while literally saving lives.

Are You Ready to Save the World?

So how exactly can content marketing save the world? According to Carlos, brands that internalize a framework model for how to help and empower people will be the brands that make the best content that exists on the planet while meeting measurable business goals.

For more live updates from the conference, you can follow @TopRank, @leeodden, @azeckman and @CaitlinMBurgess on Twitter. In addition to speaking and tweeting, team members from TopRank Marketing will be live blogging sessions (like this one) throughout the conference so be sure to follow the blog for more.

Disclosure: 3M is a TopRank Marketing client. 

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Ashley Zeckman About Ashley Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman is the Senior Director of Digital Strategy for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency. Her background includes expertise in everything from content marketing strategy to branding, account management and social media.

Outside of her role at TopRank Online Marketing, Ashley prides herself on being a great home chef, painter, prankster and dog mom.