Meet Brad Young, Global Content Strategy Leader at Dun & Bradstreet—a solution for Risk & Finance, Operations & Supply, Sales and Marketing professionals who want to uncover truth and meaning from data—and our last Content Marketing Innovator in our series. Read how Brad and Dun & Bradstreet are “killing it inside the box” in his interview with ion below:
What is your approach to content marketing?
Brad Young: A lot of people ask about content marketing strategy. The answer is easy and hard at the same time. Our content marketing strategy is our business strategy: driving growth. It’s that simple. That’s what we’re all here to do. I just want us to tell our stories in a way that drives our growth. Content can do this by building better relationships with the executives out there who have a lot of questions about how data and analytics can help them drive their own growth, and they turn to our blogs or videos or infographics or salespeople for just that kind of insight. We want to fuel those points of interaction.
So that’s the easy part—saying that our content strategy is our business strategy. The hard part, of course, is delivering on that. Knowing that we are meeting the knowledge needs and curiosities of our targeted personas in a meaningful, relevant, differentiated way. Measuring the impact of that content on the relationship—that something we published grew a prospect or existing customer’s relationship with us. Being creative. Being on brand. I heard a great thing on NPR about their storytelling—they want to be informative without oversimplifying, engaging without being pandering, surprising but not wasting the audience’s time. I think that’s a pretty good standard of quality to hold ourselves to.
What content advice would you give to other marketers?
BY: Be 100% connected to the business and marketing strategy as a whole. Don’t sit off in the corner in your dreamy brand newsroom making stuff you think is cool. I talk all the time about constrained creativity. Rather than having a blank whiteboard and doing whatever I fancy doing, I want to know the parameters of the objective we are marching toward. I hate to use this cliché but it really says it best: Rather than thinking outside the box, I would rather understand the boundaries of the box—the persona/audience, our company POV, etc.—and absolutely kill it inside the box.
Another little thing: Encourage your team to have a unique voice. Let them be individuals. I love it when our writers get complimented on having an approachable tone to their writing. I like when they bring themselves into the story. We talk about data and analytics—pretty esoteric stuff. If writing in an approachable way lets us put a bit of a human face on that, all the better. And I love that my management lets us do that instead of being corporate automatons.
Why did you incorporate interactive content into your program?
BY: Because white paper is a four-letter word. I’m exaggerating, obviously, because every content format has a place in a given strategy or situation. But what we really try to do is think concept first and format second. I want us to spend most of our time on storylines and ideas and not trying to think of what we want to WRITE about next. Interactive storytelling is a terrific way to bring a concept to life.
Also, one of our core values at Dun & Bradstreet is to be data-inspired. Not just data-driven, which feels obligatory and forced. Data-inspired means to be wowed by the potential of data and what it can do for us. In the storytelling we do that comes across in three ways, ideally: We want to be data-inspired in our ideas, to know empirically what our target audiences are interested in. We want to be data-inspired in how that content reaches the audience, to have it be served up in a personalized way based on what we know about their needs and areas of interest.
And lastly, we want to be data-inspired in the way the content gets presented. It should feel like it is coming from a company with data at its heart and soul. Interactive content has that feel to it for sure.
What do you think is the most exciting thing happening in content marketing right now?
BY: Credibility. Thanks to the great content creation being done across businesses of every size and shape, and thanks to the power of social to get those stories into audiences hands in a (relatively) democratic way, companies are being seen as legitimate sources of thoughtful, informative, inspiring stuff.
I genuinely think audiences don’t care if a great article or video or interactive experience comes from the Financial Times or from Dun & Bradstreet. They just care that it makes them smarter and better at their jobs. I love that. I used to work at Fortune, and five years ago we all would definitely have felt like brands couldn’t even remotely compare to us in terms of content quality. Now that’s not the case. It’s funny—the editors I worked with back then would never have thought that working for a brand was a good option. They would feel like they had sold out. Now, that’s not true. The notion of content marketing has come such a long way because of the quality work so many brands have done. Let’s just not blow it by creating commercials and calling it content.
What’s in store for the future of content marketing?
BY: I actually don’t think content marketing will be a thing unto itself in a few years. It will just be marketing. It will be the way companies like ours get our stories out there. Quality will continue to elevate, I hope. Investments go into making sure we can be nimble and effective creators of multimedia content.
Paid, earned, owned and shared media will continue to converge into one stream and strategy, blending the functions of traditional advertising, creative and communications departments. And business to business companies will continue to adopt account-based marketing strategies, where they realize they can drive growth by focusing on select relationships and use content and experiences to drive deeper engagements with those companies—rather than wider, thinner messaging and engagement across multiple verticals, company-size targets, etc.
The team at Dun & Bradstreet sure knows how to have a unique voice that captures their audience through interactive content. Are they killing it “inside the box?” You better believe they are!! Want to see all of the interactive content trendsetters in our Content Marketing Innovators series? Check out all five interviews here!