Ep. 122 – How to Develop B2B Content That Solves Business Problems w/ Steve Goldhaber

How to Develop B2B Content That Solves Business Problems

A crucial part of B2B marketing revolves around understanding the core business problems that content can solve. B2B marketers must also proactively have conversations with different departments and customers, and conduct the relevant diagnosis in order to produce content that is interesting, insightful, relevant, and delivers results.

Join us as we sit down with B2B content marketing expert Steve Goldhaber (CEO26 Characters). Steve talks about the five common barriers to solving problems, what the six core business problems are, and the six effective techniques that B2B marketers can use to discover the real problem that they’re facing. He also elaborates on the different visions for a content marketing program and the different ways to plan and execute various types of content.

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Topics discussed in episode

  • Steve explains why understanding the core business problem is a crucial component of successful B2B content marketing [2:32]
  • The 5 common barriers to solving problems [8:57]
  • Steve talks about how he deals with internal roadblocks when creating content [13:40]
  • Six effective techniques that B2B marketers can use to uncover the real problems that their company is facing [17:01]
  • The 5 visions for content marketing [23:14]
  • Steve talks about how to map the buyer’s journey separately from a sales process [26:45]
  • Key metrics B2B marketers should pay attention to when it comes to content [29:21]
  • Steve’s actionable tips [34:12]
  • A status quo that Steve passionately disagrees with and why [40:06]

Companies and links mentioned



Steve Goldhaber, Christian Klepp

Christian Klepp  00:03

Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for changemakers where we question the conventional, debunk marketing myths, provide actionable tips, think differently, disrupt industries, and take your marketing to a new level, from improving your campaigns to making you a better marketer. These are the inspirational stories that will help us change the way we think and approach B2B marketing, one conversation at a time. This podcast is brought to you by EINBLICK Consulting, helping you to stand out in the market and drive revenue to your B2B business. And now your host, Christian Klepp.

Okay, folks, welcome everyone to this episode of B2B Marketers on a Mission. This is the show where we help you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry and take your marketing to new heights. This is your host Christian Klepp. And today I am joined by someone on a mission to help B2B companies to shine. So coming to us from Chicago, Illinois, Mr. Steve Gouldhaber. Welcome to the show, sir.

Steve Goldhaber  01:09

Hey, thanks, Christian. Great being on here. Been looking forward to it. So thanks again.

Christian Klepp  01:15

Likewise, Steve, it was a pleasure to be on your show. And I’m really looking forward to this conversation because we are going to roll up our sleeves and talk about some really not just interesting stuff, but something that’s very, very pertinent to B2B marketers out there. Steve, short of stating the obvious, you’re no stranger when it comes to content marketing for B2B. In fact, you’ve written a book about it called “What’s your problem?” And that’s probably wasn’t meant to be confrontational. But there you have it.

Steve Goldhaber  01:47

For people who knows that I’ve been in marketing forever. They kind of can understand it, but for the non marketers who I work with, they do have that reaction like, Oh, interesting, like everything okay over there, Steve? And I’m like, it makes sense. When I explain it, it will make sense.

Christian Klepp  02:04

Absolutely. Absolutely. On that note, let’s focus on a topic today, which I believe has become part of your professional mission. So it’s understanding the core business problems that B2B content marketing can solve. So if we’re going to kick off this conversation, let’s kick it off with this question. Why do you think that that’s such a crucial component of successful B2B content marketing?

Steve Goldhaber  02:32

Yeah, good question. I’ll answer that with a little bit of a story. So before I started my own company, I was the global digital lead for two Fortune 500 companies. I did that for about five, six years. And part of the fun of my role was I got to work with everyone in the company, because inevitably, digital was hot, they needed something. So they would come to me as the leader of that team and say, Hey, Steve, I need this thing. I need an app, I need a website, I need an infographic, you name it. And when I started doing my job, I was I was not that effective. And it was because I would take all these projects on and be like, yep, we can do that, we can do that. And then I noticed that, when it came to like measuring the results of these things, it was a little bit of hit or miss or some of these projects just died out, because there was a lack of interest from the person who started them. So I realized that I needed to do a better job of figuring out why they actually were requesting these digital things in the first place. So the inspiration behind the name of my book, and an answer to your question here is I always started to say, tell me about what your problem is, you know, what’s the business problem that you’re trying to solve? And when I started asking that question, half of the projects went away, because people couldn’t understand why. And, you know, this wasn’t, that’s not like a, it’s not necessarily something I’m proud of, oh, I want the projects to go away, right. But those, the projects that didn’t get kicked off were the ones that wandered and weren’t really implemented. There wasn’t really a success story around those things. So to me, understanding that business problem is something where great marketing starts. And because people just request things. Hey, my boss wants this, can you give it to me? And I think marketing too. Depending on the organization, culture, sometimes marketing just takes the orders. And other times they can get in and they can solve the problem. And I’ve always prided myself on trying to be the marketer who asked the questions. You know, I’m not, I’m not the person who just takes the prescription that someone gives me and I fulfill it. I try to work upstream. I try to diagnose, I try to listen, ultimately, knowing that once we figure those things out, then yes, we can actually execute it and create whatever the marketing thing is that we’re creating.

Christian Klepp  05:01

Absolutely, absolutely. Wow. A lot of the things you just brought up really resonated with me, because I’ve seen that throughout my career as well. But over to you, I’m curious to know, what your take is, do you feel that… And we can probably talk, like, from a top level perspective, because it can get pretty nitty gritty, right, like, um, but in terms of B2B content marketing, you know, from your experience and observation, do you feel that sometimes where the content falls flat is a result of, well, A) not understanding the business problem, but B) also not understanding who the target audience is, what they’re looking for, and how they benefit from consuming this piece of content?

Steve Goldhaber  05:50

Yeah, I agree. I think that a long time ago, I learned this framework called, you know, essentially the business brand customer framework. And imagine three circles that have to overlap. Some content marketing is just all brand related, right? So those are like the brand journalism efforts, the hey, we spent a lot of money to drive awareness, we want people to think about us differently. The business circle is essentially, you know, what’s the product? What’s the solution? What are we trying to accomplish there. And then the last one I see is the customer. So I do agree with you that when people create things, content, marketing things, they don’t work as well, unless you can overlap all three of those, right? Like, you can’t just say this is our product, we want a technical paper on it, maybe maybe there is a place for that if someone’s already like, low in the funnel, and they and they’re ready to buy, and they just say, hey, strip away all the brand and the information about the customer. Maybe that’s the case. Most of the time, it’s not. So yeah, to me to create great marketing, you have to, you have to build those three things into it. I’ve always thought that great marketing is one where the customer or the prospects reaction is essentially, this company really gets me. And I think that that’s, you know, the whole role of marketing in the B2B space is about building trust to enable a sale. And some companies will make that assumption that the best way to build trust is just to showcase the product, or to push the brand. But essentially, if you create headlines, designs, whatever it may be, that really connect with your customer that that again, they say this company gets me, they understand my pain, they understand my challenges, they understand how I make decisions. That’s when you’ve done your job as a marketer, because you you can really blend all those three things together.

Christian Klepp  07:48

Absolutely, absolutely. And yes, amen to building trust, because it’s just going to be hard to do anything if you don’t establish that early on the piece or build that credibility, especially with potential buyers or prospects that don’t know the company yet. Right? And take your pick, and I’m sure you’ve read them right. Like Gartner Forrester McKinsey, about the B2B buying process. And how, for lack of a better description, how haphazard and nonlinear that is.


Steve Goldhaber  08:23

Yeah, well too it’s funny too. You bring up the analyst companies, I mean, that’s a whole category built out of “can I trust you?” Right? Well, if Forrester says I can trust you, then I should probably trust you. Right. So those people should be thankful of the lack of trust in the B2B space, because they essentially help you make an informed decision.

Christian Klepp  08:43

Absolutely, absolutely. I’m gonna move us on to the next question, which is focused on your book. So in your book, you talk about the five common barriers to solving problems. So can you talk to us about what they are?

Steve Goldhaber  08:57

Yeah, sure. So I’ll just list them off right now. So unnecessary constraints, mental set, confirmation bias, groupthink, and we’ve got paradigm blindness, and then or irrelevant or misleading information. So these are these are all things that are, are sometimes hard for us to control and doing planning work or strategic work. It’s just so critical. When you’re trying to figure out the problem and solve it. I, I always will fall victim to some of these at one point, right. So I’m not speaking from a standpoint of, Oh, you just have to follow these things and you’re good to go. I think mental set is one that we’re probably most familiar with because it essentially is saying we’ve always done it this way. And that that’s very comfortable for organizations in how they do marketing or even down to like the budgeting process like so much of the budgeting process unfortunately becomes: What we do last year. What’s the target that finance has given or the CEO has given? And we’re gonna go up 10%, we’re gonna go down 10%. I mean, when did this become the magic formula to do great work, right? It’s the… So that’s, that’s an example of that flaw is just, “we’ve always done it that way.”

Steve Goldhaber  10:24

Confirmation bias is when you go out to find a solution to something and you already know the solution in the back of your head, but you’re just going to kind of go through the motions. And you’re essentially just finding facts that support your conclusion. And that’s a bad thing, right? Very hard to control. Certainly, how we can be very efficient from a marketing perspective is because we have all these learnings in the past, but we have to, we have to respect that sometimes you use those and other times, you just say, All right, I’m ignoring this for whatever reason, and I’m gonna see if that leads me to a different outcome.

Steve Goldhaber  11:05

Paradigm blindness is another interesting one, you know, Thomas Watson made the funny statement about how he saw a world market in global computing for five computers, he’s like, I think there’s a market for five, you know, and at the time, probably not such a bad insight, right? Like, these companies didn’t understand how to use this. So he’s like, I think we can sell five. There’s also a great quote from Henry Ford, who always joked about, you know, hey, if I ask people what they wanted, they would have just said faster horses. So Ford could see through that paradigm, and see the bigger opportunity.

Steve Goldhaber  11:45

And then the last one I’ll kind of bring to life is the irrelevant or misleading information. It’s especially relevant recently, because there is too much information in our world. It used to be very tightly curated amongst small networks who had vast reach. And now, you know, the media landscape is a combination of that fragmented, but also individuals creating their own content. And, you know, we have to understand what to filter, what to discredit, in order to be productive, in order to solve a problem.

Christian Klepp  12:24

Fantastic, fantastic! Those are some really great points. And I’m gonna throw this question in there if you don’t mind, Steve, only because I know you can handle it. All right. Let me put it this way. I know that a lot of the listeners out there have to contend with this issue, especially if they are in larger organizations. And there might not be a straightforward answer to this. But how do you as a content marketer, in B2B, when you’re developing content? How do you go about maneuvering the internal politics? And I know that can get super complicated, but what I mean by that is, well, and you’ve probably dealt with this before, but I guess the goal here is not to try to please everybody, the goal is to try to get a piece of content that is useful and relevant, ultimately, to whoever the audience’s that the piece is intended for. But you and I both know that sometimes you run into these roadblocks internally, or somebody says, Well, no, you can’t say that, because that’ll make that person look bad. or you gotta get it approved by these many levels. So maybe just scratched the surface a little bit. Because I know we can go pretty deep with this one. But how do you deal with that?

Steve Goldhaber  13:40

That’s a great one. To me, I’m a big believer that the customer always breaks the tie. And what I mean by that is, there’s all these different people that you’ve got away when you’re creating content. And inevitably, someone will take it more, too far in a brand way where the customer is going to look at that and go, I don’t want this or someone’s going to take it too much in a product way where we haven’t connected yet with the customer. So when I say the customer always breaks the tie, I try to bring that into the conversations that I have. And I will ask questions like, Is that the best thing for the customer? What would the customer have to say about that? That’s some organizations you have the luxury of doing research. So you can create these things early on, and share them and get the feedback. And, you know, when I when I used to do this for larger companies, you know, you sit in focus groups for a day or two, and you just you get all that feedback. And if the decision maker is in that process, they see it and they’ll have the humility to go, we were wrong on that. Like we just we have to scrap that. There’s not as much of that done today, I think because of the need for speed. So even if you don’t have focus groups, or you can’t have your customer actually say that I would just say like, you know, there’s a great philosophy along this lines of “Always leave one chair open”, or for your customer in the meeting. And the whole, the whole idea behind that is, give your customer a seat at the table, acknowledge that they are there. Because if you don’t, you’re just going to create stuff that that you want. Whether that’s a good or bad thing. that’s up for debate, but like you have to ultimately measure your marketing by the customer saying that’s, that’s really helpful. That’s really effective.

Christian Klepp  15:30

Yeah, no, that’s, that’s a good, that’s a really good point. And it’s that whole, like, you know, outside in versus inside out perspective too, isn’t it?

Steve Goldhaber  15:39

Yeah, yeah. I mean, sometimes, I mean, I’ll start projects off, and I’ll just say, hey, like, organizationally, let me know what what type of business you are? Are you, Are you vertical centric? you product centric? Are you customer centric? And, you know, of course, everyone feels the need to answer customer centric, alright. But I encourage them not to answer that way. If it’s not, in fact, other structure, because then what I can do as we create the things is say, Well, okay, let’s pause for a second, you guys said that you wanted to be customer centric, what you’re asking for is not. Do you want to change that paradigm? Or do you want to course correct? So it’s, it’s good to establish that upfront, like what I’ve learned as a marketer, is you, you want to predict the the hard conversations before you have them, so that you get people’s vision or philosophy before you encounter the problems. And I think that helps keep everyone honest. Because when you’re in the trenches, and you’re creating the content, and someone says, No, I really, I think this is the right path to go, then you can connect it back to a conversation that you’ve already had.

Christian Klepp  15:57

Absolutely, absolutely. Move on to the next question, what are the six effective techniques that you believe B2B marketers can use to discover the real problem that they’re facing, or their company is facing?

Steve Goldhaber  17:01

Yeah. So there’s, there’s a bunch of them, I think the most helpful ones I’ll start with the first one is, is journey mapping, you know, I think journey mapping has been around for a while, it got a little bit more traction, when, maybe 10 years ago, the whole like UX/UI emphasis started, but essentially it’s just saying, let’s map out the entire journey from when a customer doesn’t know us to when they know us to when they start to work with us and use the product and renew or buy other things from us. And what I love about that is you just start with a dot on the left side of the page, draw an arrow to the right. And you, you map out all these different things. And then you work with the organization to say, what’s working well at these stages, what’s not working well. And to me, content marketing is really effective when you kind of fill in the cracks or the gaps of what’s happening. So if you get to around one meeting, where people still are saying, I don’t really understand what you’re doing, I don’t understand your product. That’s an opportunity to say, all right, maybe a week before that meeting, we should do this as a prep for that meeting. So that the meeting isn’t just us talking about ourselves, the meeting is us understanding the true needs of the customer, whatever it may be. So journey mapping is a really strong tool.

Steve Goldhaber  18:29

Another one, root cause analysis, I think that’s a really great tool to get underneath what’s really happening. And I can, I’ll share an example to bring that one to life. So in the 90s, in Washington DC, the Jefferson and the Lincoln monument had stone that was falling apart. And one day, a huge, you know, 100 pound stone just fell and almost hit someone. And they needed to figure out, alright, what happened there. So, you know, root cause analysis, it’s a scientific thing, it’s… go look it up, like you’ll see all the steps and how to use it. But for this example, what was really interesting is they said, Well, what’s been happening as we’ve had to use more cleaning solution on these monuments? So the frequency of us cleaning them has increased, therefore, we think something in the in the solutions may be affecting them. So that was a good theory. And then, you know, essentially said, Well, why is that the case? Why are we doing that? And then they met with the custodial staff who then said, Well, we’re cleaning up bird droppings, and we’re doing that like two three times a week because we want to keep the monuments clean. Okay, well, why? Why are the bird droppings happening more frequently? Well, it turns out that there was all these nets that were being attracted to the area and the birds would come in and eat the nets for you know, meals, leaving all the droppings behind. Okay, well, why are these nets showing up all of a sudden? Well, the reason why the nets are showing up is because we actually have these really beautiful powerful lights to light the monuments up at night, we want to make sure people can see them. Oh, so the lights, were drawing the nets, which were drawing the birds, which, you know, and you can understand that. So, without root cause analysis, the solution might just seem something like, Well, don’t clean the buildings as often or get another solution. But then you really start to see what’s going on here. Oh, maybe we should, we should still like these monuments, but not in a way that is so strong to attract the nets. So that’s an example of root cause analysis. It’s, it’s harder and deeper to get to it. But once you’ve invested the time in that, that’s, that’s a great tool. And I’ll share one more, which is what I’ve used forever. It’s called the Five why’s. And I use some of that in the root cause analysis in my example, but the five why’s very simple is just, if you presented with a challenge or a problem, ask yourself why five times. And the thought is, is that if you keep on getting deeper and deeper, you’re essentially, you know, peeling back layers of an onion, you finally get to what’s really happening. That was a technique used in Toyota’s manufacturing process by a really, you know, well known engineer, and he was able to pinpoint, you know, well, why did the assembly line slow down? Well, it’s because this thing happened and that, and he would get it down to like, Oh, we’re not oiling this one thing. And if we fix that, if we apply oil once or twice a day, then all these other things, fix themselves. So those are the, that’s the fun part of problem solving is when there’s just something that was really puzzling, and you can’t figure it out. And you use these techniques. And then you go, like, think of that, like, we’ve been doing this for a year or two years. And no one no one has figured that out. So that, for my work, that’s the joy that I have is if I can be a part of a team or if I can individually help figure out that problem. That’s really satisfying.

Christian Klepp  22:11

Absolutely, absolutely. No, those are some really great points. You made me think about, like, on the topic of root cause, like reading Sherlock Holmes mysteries was part of a required reading back in high school. And I’m not sure if you remember any of them. But in any case, there was one standard pattern and each of these mysteries, right, like Sherlock Holmes would never… he was very rarely seen with a pistol, right, or a gun. And the way that he would solve all these crimes was through powers of observation and deduction, he would see things and he would peel back layers that nobody else, either they overlooked it or they or they just completely ignored it. Right. And that’s what immediately came to my mind when you when you were talking about the technique. Just peel back the layers keep peeling…. Okay, what, from your perspective, are the five different visions for content marketing program?

Steve Goldhaber  23:14

Yeah, good question. So, you know, people use content marketing for a variety of reasons. And what I’ve helped some clients with are essentially like, what’s your vision, right, and this usually will reflect the company culture and how they’ve set up their business. Some companies will take a brand centric version to content. So an example of that, you know, the company John Deere has been around for a long time, in the late 1800s, they started this magazine called The Furrow and it was all about them, building a relationship to the farming community. And that was their goal. You know, like, they just wanted to let farmers know that they were there for them. They weren’t necessarily talking about the new tractor. So that’s one way is just we want to have a relationship. Another vision is what I call the “helpful friend”. Now, the helpful friend thinks, I’m not even going to create content that has to do with my company, I just want to build trust with you. Because if I build trust with you in some way, you’re more likely to think of me as relates to my product or solution. So HubSpot is a good example who’s embraced that philosophy as it relates to content, they will, they will do things that are just trying to earn trust, and then they’ll kind of talking about you know, CRM, automation, things like that. Another version is, you know, a sales journey. So essentially, like some clients I work with, you know, they may have a head of sales who starts the engagement and they just want to sell more so you can create a content vision that is all about educating and converting. So that’s, that’s the sales version. Other companies will do something, what I refer to as a customer retention vision, so you already have the customer. Now your goal is to retain them as long as you can. So how can content do that? How often do you have to connect with that customer? To remind them of the value that they’re getting? And then what data can you look at? To help determine, Okay. All these customers signed up on day one, but on day 50 100 200, they all look very different. They become, you know, essentially different segments, and how do you market to each of those segments. And then the last vision tends to be like a product launch solution, launch vision. So, you know, we’ll take Apple, you know, every, every time a couple times a year, they’re going to do product launches. And that’s your, you’re essentially saying, we’re making the announcement this day, let’s work backwards to figure out the best way to do that. So, yeah, that’s the thing that’s interesting about content marketing is there’s not a there’s not a way to do it, it is very much about what are you trying to do? What’s the what’s the organizational structure or culture, and then you kind of have to find the right vision, to bring it to life.

Christian Klepp  26:11

Some really great points, I’m sorry, I’m gonna go back to something you said earlier, this light bulb just suddenly went on in my head. On the topic of journey mapping. And just from your own experience, Steve, how often have you seen this happen… When you’re sitting down with a customer and having a meeting with them, you’re doing the brainstorming, and you’re trying to come up with this, essentially what’s meant to be the buyers journey. And then you take a step back and you realize, like, Wait, hang on a second, this isn’t actually the buyers journey, this is their sales process. How often do you run into that situation?

Steve Goldhaber  26:45

Yeah. It happens a lot. I mean, and here’s a, here’s a little technique that I do is on the line that I was referring to, I say, you can only put things on the top that affect your customer, and you can only put things on the bottom that are that have to do with your process. So that one thing is a great exercise, because you essentially show that client, you guys are too product centric, or some might be too customer centric, but putting out information above and below the line is a really helpful exercise, because I think that’s, that’s the challenge of most marketers today is they, they are safe. And assuming the role of I have to be all about the product, like you never, you will never get criticized by the product managers or the you know, the CEOs for being too product centric, it’s the safe, it’s the safe play. So you have to kind of get yourself out of that, that comfort zone, because you have to, you know, you have to do some things that are a little bit daring, in customer centric in the world of marketing to make sure that that it works, because ultimately, the challenge of every marketer is if you don’t bring your marketing hat into what you’re doing, you will make a lot of people very happy internally. But those are the people who are going to come to you afterwards and say, Why didn’t this work? And that’s the conversation that you don’t want to have. So you have to,  you have to balance that. keeping people happy, because they just want it that way versus focusing on the customer, which ultimately if you focus on the customer, your business outcomes and metrics should follow.

Christian Klepp  28:28

Absolutely, absolutely. Gosh, you really hit the nail on the head there. Like I mean, how often have I seen that… In B2B companies where they, they just try to play it safe. Let’s, you know, let’s just be a little bit risk averse. Because we don’t want to like you know, throwing whatever analogy you want, drop the ball, ruffle the feathers, rattle the cage, or whatever. But like, to your point, you don’t want to have that conversation like in the next quarter. Well, why didn’t this convert any leads? Right? Like, why did this not generate results? Right? Like what’s going on here? On the topic of metrics, love it or hate it. But you know, at some point, you’re gonna have to show that this content that you’re producing and putting out into the wild there is producing results. And I know that we can go on and talk about this all day, but just off the top of your head. What’re some of the key metrics a B2B marketer should be paying attention to when it comes to content?

Steve Goldhaber  29:21

Yeah, so metrics are a good conversation to have, I think, for me, my advice to my clients is always for whatever we’re doing, choose two, maybe three metrics, force yourself to do it. And it’s not to say that you can ignore all the other things, right. But if you have two or three primary metrics, most of your conversations should be about those metrics. Now, secondary metrics, to me are more diagnostic tools. So it’s kind of like you know, your take your car in for service that can run all these tests, figure out what’s going on. In marketing, the secondary metrics, there’s too many of Oh, there’s hundreds of things time on site, impressions, click through rates, all these different things that help you understand what’s going on. I think the challenge of many marketers is, they tend to weigh all the secondary or diagnostic metrics as important. So that’s, that’s my big take on metrics is you got to choose two or three to focus on. And then if you need to go to the diagnostic metrics, as your secondary metrics, that’s fine. Those things always help you understand a little bit about behind the scenes, what’s really happening, but don’t get lost in the diagnostics, because you just, I’ve seen it many times where people will present results of a marketing program by just sharing diagnostics. And, and you’re usually sharing them to non-marketers. So oh we increased our impressions by this. They don’t know what that is, like, why is that important, but they’re up. If they’re up, they’re good, you know, like this, just, it’s really hard to have this conversation. So I think the more you can focus on primary and have those primary metrics be focused n the business, then as a marketer, you start talking the same languages, you know, the CFO, the CEO. It’s just more productive.

Christian Klepp  31:13

Absolutely, absolutely. And more often than not, about this conversation with a couple of other guests on the show. It’s about understanding, again, who the audiences are, right, who you’re presenting these metrics to? And to your point, what do they care about? Or what should they care about and why. And not like inundate them with all this data. And this marketing jargon. Because you know, I’ve been, I’ve been in a couple of meetings with like, boards of directors, and they don’t get to tell them a long story, man. I mean, get to the point, right? Well, what’s the data telling us? Why should we care? And what’s your solution? Right?

Steve Goldhaber  31:52

Yep. That’s, that’s so true, I think that the more you get away from presenting to non-marketers, that’s when you become like, really effective as a marketer is because now you understand your audience. You’re, you’re sharing information in ways that they understand. And sometimes it’s like, my favorite thing to do is just, you do all the legwork for a meeting like that. So like, if you’re documenting it, you have it in the appendix of a presentation. And if some… because there’s always one person who’s Senior who is like, I know a little bit about this, and I’m gonna go deep on it, and then you can kind of go, Oh, you want to go deep. I’m happy to go deep, like, I have a slide to go deep, and just let them have that conversation. But most people, they don’t know what you’re doing. They know marketing, but they can’t get into the operational side and the diagnostic metrics.

Christian Klepp  32:50

Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, you know, let’s not forget, this is B2B we’re talking about here. I mean, I don’t know about your experience, the but my B2B marketing career, I had one CEO that had some marketing experience, right. Everybody else was a CFO or CIO or CTO. Everything else. Yeah. Right.

Steve Goldhaber  33:14

I agree. It’s rare, it’s rare the CMO of a B2B company gets elevated to an executive role. Maybe a little bit more common, maybe in like this, the B2C space I’ve seen some maybe some CPG people where, where you do, like, marketing can really shape the consumer landscape fast. So they can maybe do that. But I agree with you. Marketing tends to be the alien in the room that not everyone understands.

Christian Klepp  33:46

Absolutely, absolutely. Okay, so we get to the part in the show where we’re talking about actionable tips, and I think you’ve given us plenty of them already. Right? But let’s just imagine that there’s somebody out there that’s listening to our conversation, and you want them to walk away with three to five things that they can implement right away. When it comes to B2B content marketing, what would those things Yeah, off you go,

Steve Goldhaber  34:12

Things that they could implement as it relates to B2B marketing. I mean, obviously, the whole problem solving thing is my first tip, just by taking away from this conversation, what’s your problem will help you immensely as a marketer. I think the other thing would be what I said earlier, which is don’t wait for the conversations to happen. Have them before. So what I mean by that is, get alignment on why are we doing this project. Are we brand centric? Are we customer centric? Are we vertical centric? Get alignment, all those things before, so that’s essentially the handshake that marketers need to have with their organizations. So that when you start building the problems, you’re just reminding people and I think a lot of marketers just don’t have those conversations inherently. So that would be my second thing. And then the third thing is, I would say, think of different ways to produce content. There are some very mature models to produce it, meaning organizations can build these teams in house. So they can say, hey, we need a couple of designers, we need some writers, we need some operations people, some metric people, like you can very much do that. And if you go down that path, know that like, that could be a three to nine month thing to build that team. But you can also create content very efficiently. You can hire a freelancer, you can use a content marketing agency, you can use an online platform. So that would be my third takeaway is, is don’t feel like you have to go all-in on content. You can start by experimenting, I love the idea of piloting content. And then if it works, if you think there’s something there, then great, build the function internally or do some type of a hybrid model. So yeah, that would be my that would be my advice. As far as like, more of like, you know, what could you do this afternoon after listening to the show to get some traction as it relates to content.

Christian Klepp  36:16

Fantastic advice. And Steve, only because you handle that. So well. I’m going to ask you a follow up, another follow up question. It’s on point three. And you’ve probably heard this more often than you care to count. But how do you save the world from boring, B2B content? What’s your advice there?

Steve Goldhaber  36:34

That’s a great question. I’m saving the world right now. I would go to, you know, what I said earlier in the conversation is, bring your customer in the room. And I would you know, in the perfect world of an A|B test, create boring content, create exciting content, and let the customer react to it. And whether that’s through research, or whether that’s just saying, Hey, we’ve got a list, let’s take half the list and do that and half of the list to the other thing. That’s why I would say that I think that’s the fastest way to convince people that it doesn’t have to be boring is to is to say, hey, let’s run an experiment. I love working with companies to just say it, let’s figure that out. Let’s run an experiment. I don’t know. I don’t know if my way is right. You know, I think marketers, you know, maybe they can be a little bit guilty of doing cool things just to make them cool. And hey, this is fun for me as a marketer, so I’m going to do it. But if you can put your science lab coat on and just say, Hey, I don’t know which way works. Do you do? Would you agree that would do an experiment? And I’ve, I’ve found that that specific phrase, it is rare to find someone who just goes, I’m sorry, I don’t want to do an experiment. So fight for the experiment, do a traditional A|B test. And I think that’s, that’s how you get rid of boring. And who knows, maybe, maybe there is a time and a place for boring. You know, like I’ve, I’ve worked with some clients who they’re targeting engineers, and those engineers will actually want like instruction manual type level things. So boring, boring, should win for that audience. Let that be boring. For other audiences, do do what you think is best for, for what they would react to.

Christian Klepp  38:29

Fantastic, fantastic. I suppose it’s a bit of a balance, right? Because on the one hand, like you said, boring is, quite frankly, open to interpretation, depending on who it’s for, what stage of the buying journey they’re at. And it’s also on the one hand, you don’t want them to scroll past the content. On the other hand, I mean, marketers that say, Okay, we want to create stuff that goes viral. I mean, that’s kind of also missing. I think a little bit of a…

Steve Goldhaber  38:59

Yep. Yeah, it’s you got to figure it out. I think it’s if you go back to that customer journey, you know, there’s times you know, upper funnel. If someone doesn’t know who you are, you probably should do something to get their attention. Lower funnel. Yes. They probably don’t want the circus tricks as much but sometimes you need a circus trick up upper funnel to to get someone’s attention to go. Oh, did you see the funny thing that company did? No what company? I’ve ever heard of them. Oh, well, they’re they do this. That’s not important. Just watch the funny thing. Then you’ve done your role, right? Like you’ve had someone who doesn’t know your company spent 10 20 30 seconds on, on something you created. So it’s helped do what they needed to do.

Christian Klepp  39:43

Absolutely. Absolutely. Cool. More questions before I let you go, Steve. This is kind of like the soapbox question, but I suppose you’ve already been on the soapbox all this time, but please stay up there a little bit longer. A status quo, in your area of expertise that you passionately disagree with, and why,

Steve Goldhaber  40:06

Yeah. All right. And this is going to come from someone who’s been in marketing for about 25 years. And I think that while I love planning and strategy, there’s a there’s a belief that like, oh, we need to figure out a new strategy, a really effective strategy or an interesting plan. Having done marketing this long, I do believe that like, all the plans, and all the strategies have been done before. You know, it is there is no new strategy to be discovered. Now. Is the marketplace different? Are the channels that we use different? Of course, that is, that is the thing to figure out in today’s world. But all of that front ends things about like, what’s the business trying to accomplish? How are they going to grow? Are you trying to acquire more? Are you trying to convert? Better, those things are already played out. So I would, I would encourage people to kind of appreciate that and know that it’s not so much about finding the new planning or the new strategic thing, but really just saying, Oh, it’s one of these. Okay, so we’re doing that right now. Or, hey, here’s the stage of where this company is at. This company is backed by a private equity company, which means that, you know, they have a two to four year window that they’re trying to sell. So that means this so here are the things that they’re going to be looking for. And spend your time and energy on the on the marketplace stuff on the channel stuff on the customer insights stuff. But yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s my one thing is, there are no more new strategies to be discovered, they have already been done. So just study them and know when to pull them.

Christian Klepp  41:50

Absolutely, absolutely. No, that’s a really good one. And I suppose that spans across the entire B2B marketing spectrum, right? You have these people that are just always over planning, right? Over analyzing and let’s just spend a little bit more time on planning. And just like, let’s shelve the execution until we’ve got the perfect plan. Right.

Steve Goldhaber  42:11

Yeah. Well, I mean, the thing is, like, the conclusion of any planning process is that decision has been made. And for some companies, that’s hard to do. To draw a line in the sand, like any great plan just draws a line in the sand. One of my favorite questions to ask, when planning is wrapping up is okay, what are we not doing? Is it clear in this plan, that we’re not doing things? And because some plans are just we’re gonna do this, it’s like a firework show, we’re gonna do boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And and sometimes you have to say, no, that’s not that’s not a plan. You have to say, no, your plan needs to clearly, you know, someone I used to work with. Define strategy in a really great way. He said, It’s a bet. You have to bet on something. You can’t bet on everything when you plan. So what’s your bet? What do you have the five paths that you could take? You gotta choose one. What are you going to do?

Christian Klepp  43:09

Absolutely. Steve, this has been such a great conversation. Thank you so much for coming on, and for sharing your expertise, insights and anecdotes with the audience. So please, quick, introduce yourself and help folks out there can get in touch with you.

Steve Goldhaber  43:23

Yeah, so Christian, thanks for having me on the on the podcast, I really had a good time. People want to know more about my business. It’s called 26 Characters. We’re a B2B content marketing company. We specialize in service based businesses. So feel free to go to my website, if you’re interested in more problem solving, and that that puts you in the realm of you might be interested in the book. So you can go to Amazon and find the book. And then lastly, if you want to hear more crazy things that I say it’s Christian alluded to before, I’ve got a podcast called interesting B2B marketers, so you can find me and other podcast channels for that.

Christian Klepp  44:03

Fantastic, fantastic, and we will be sure to drop all the relevant links in the show notes once this episode gets published. So Steve, once again, thank you for your time. Take care, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you soon.

Steve Goldhaber  44:15

All right. Thank you for having me again, and take care.


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