Allen Gannett is shaping the future of B2B marketing.
Allen Gannett is the CEO of TrackMaven, the premier competitive intelligence platform for digital marketers. The TrackMaven platform allows you to upload a list of your competitors and track every piece of content they’re publishing across over fifty different channels. From there, TrackMaven provides reports on what is working and what isn’t — for both you and your competitors — so you can understand which areas can be improved and optimized.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Allen about the future of B2B marketing and technology. Before I share the video and my top takeaways from the talk, let’s get to know Allen a little bit better. Here are a few facts about him:
What’s his favorite book?
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Top four marketing heroes?
• Jason Lemkin
• Joe Chernov
• Ann Handley
If he were not a marketer, what would he be?
A semi-pro rock photographer
The Future of B2B Marketing is Proactive
The future of marketing, says Allen, is proactive. Marketing technology is often thought of as a workflow tool used to simplify your day-to-day processes. For example, think about when your team wants to disseminate a new piece of content. You likely use martech ranging from a marketing automation platform to social media scheduling tools. But one problem with this reliance on marketing technology, explains Allen, is that “we make this assumption that the piece of content we are publishing is actually good.”
But good content production usually takes a long time, and that’s something many marketers lack. Allen gives a great example of the typical content creation process. It goes something like this:
- Marketers gather around a whiteboard and write down a bunch of content ideas.
- They select one and write a white paper on the topic without allocating many resources to the project.
- The marketing team spends a ton of time creating buzz around the content using email marketing, social media, paid ads, and so on.
- Finally, they look at the data . . . and realize that nobody really cares about the topic. Even if the white paper got a decent number of downloads, none of the leads it generated became opportunities.
“We have all these channels and opportunities — but how do we create really great content?” questions Allen. The problem TrackMaven solves is how to utilize competitive data in the content planning process to be proactive instead of reactive. Using data while planning content allows you truly understand your audience and what they care about, which allows you to create relevant content that will resonate and share it on the channels where it will be most effective.
[Tweet “Use data to proactively plan #ContentMarketing so you can stay relevant to your audience. – @Allen”]
What’s Next for TrackMaven?
TrackMaven currently excels in two key areas. The first is benchmarking how your content (and your competitors’ content) is performing, giving insight into strengths and opportunities to improve. The second is helping you to identify the topics and tactics that work best on each marketing channel and providing valuable research tools to assist in implementation.
So what’s next? The company plans to move towards more automation features in the future. Predictive analytics will play a significant role in the future of TrackMaven. Allen envisions the platform being able to predict what content you should create to help you get ahead of your competitors. The goal is to shorten the content planning process, allowing marketers to spend more time actually creating and distributing great content.
[Tweet “@Allen envisions the future of @TrackMaven as a predictive #ContentMarketing platform.”]
TrackMaven is not your typical startup. For one thing, they’re based in Washington, DC — about 2,800 miles (or a 42-hour car ride) from Silicon Valley. Most of their capital comes from NEA, a global venture capital firm with offices in DC and around the world.
Another way TrackMaven stands out is how customer-focused they are, which involves a great deal of attention to marketing, sales, and customer support. Their goal is to always stay focused on how to acquire customers, how to convert them, and how to give them a really great experience.
“If you own those three things, the fundraising comes really easy,” said Allen. “Those are the things that actually help you build a $100 million company and be able to go public, which is what investors are looking for.”
[Tweet “When it comes to #startups, revenue speaks louder than anything else. – @Allen #ROI”]
B2C vs B2B Digital Marketers: What’s the Difference?
B2C and B2B marketing share some similarities, but they also have some key differences. For example, B2C companies usually have shorter sales cycles, so the ROI of certain marketing efforts is often more immediate. B2B marketers, on the other hand, tend to have greater ability to track revenue all they way through the funnel, which allows them to make smarter decisions and investments — a key differentiator. But of course, the goal of both B2B and B2C content marketers is to create engagements that lead to conversions and brand awareness.
Another key difference? The rapid channel fragmentation in B2C makes it more challenging for marketers to keep up and have a consistent presence on all the channels where their customers are active. And although there are fewer channels in B2B, the challenge here is for marketers to prioritize and focus on the channels matter most for their business. (For instance, does your manufacturing company really need a Snapchat?)
The key to success in digital marketing is understanding your audience regardless of whether you are a B2C or B2B marketer. It’s crucial to know who they are, what they care about, and where they spend time. Small business owners are much more likely to have a presence on consumer channels such as Facebook or Instagram. Conversely, a CIO of a bank might only be reached through LinkedIn.
“As marketers, we know we should truly understand our audience, but few of us actually do,” says Allen. “We just use our gut and go with what we think we should do — which is a scary reality.” And that’s why actionable data from martech tools like TrackMaven is so important.
[Tweet “The words “feel” & “think” do not belong in #ContentMarketing. Use data instead. – @Allen”]
Allen Gannett is not just predicting the future of digital marketing — he’s shaping it. He’s a technology, content, and business wiz who’s seen serious success building a SaaS business capable of scaling to great heights. I hope you learned a lot from him! Now, let me know: what are your greatest challenges in content marketing? I’d love to hear in the comments below.