By Joshua Baez, Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing

To say that the B2B landscape has changed dramatically over the last decade would be an understatement.  In recent years alone, it has shifted, morphed, and evolved into an entirely different beast, accompanied by new codes of conduct and new terms of engagement.  While the principles of content marketing, lead generation, and pipeline acceleration may not have changed, the ways in which we do business in today’s modern, digital world have.

However, it’d be dismissive to think the changes in B2B content marketing solely revolve around new technologies displacing the old.  Because among the digital disruptions and cloud cover, you’ll find that the boardrooms and meeting spaces are experiencing changes of their own.

While we’re all too familiar with the recent headlines of “Millennials ruin” this and that, they’re making an even more significant impact among today’s B2B buying committees.  What does this change mean for B2B sales and marketing teams?  That’s what we wanted to find out.

The Project: It All Starts with a Theory

Our objectives with SnapApp, an interactive content marketing platform, were to drive thought leadership, interest, and engagement at the top of the funnel with new content.  To do this, the teams came up with a theory – “there seem to be endless stories today about what millennials are doing wrong,” but most, if not all, of these stories come through a B2C lens.  So, that begged the question – what is a millennial’s impact in the B2B world?

The answer is that traditional B2B buying committees are undergoing a generational-paradigm shift.  Millennials are taking their seats at the buying table, seated among their Generation X and Baby Boomer colleagues, and that disruption is happening, and will continue to happen, whether B2B sales and marketing teams are ready for it or not.

But this shift in leadership and decision-making should not go unnoticed.  As committees grow more diverse the more difficult it becomes to navigate the already complex B2B buying environment.  It’s an important distinction to be aware of, and it is a shift that will, ultimately, change the ways in which B2B sales and marketing teams plan, operate, and execute.  So, rather than be reluctant to change, what can today’s savvy teams do to find leverage, even advantages, among a shifting landscape?  That’s what Heinz Marketing and SnapApp set out to find.

“The Heinz Marketing team was great to work with – they took the time to truly understand not just the deliverables we were looking for, but also the why behind what we asked for.

They were true partners, fully invested in the success of the project, even after their work was completed.”

Melissa Nazar, Director of Content Strategy, SnapApp

Driving the Engagement: Content Development, Marketing, and Promotion 

To meet the objectives of this project, Heinz Marketing and SnapApp co-created a generational study to better understand and identify the generational differences, as well as the impact of those differences, on the B2B sales process and buyer’s journey.

The survey was conducted over two weeks in late June 2017, and the team received responses from 503 professionals with buying influence and/or authority across B2C and B2B businesses, in different functional areas, and from organizations that range from SMB to large enterprise.

During the engagement, Heinz Marketing worked through five phases:

  • Survey Development, Creation, and Launch
  • Survey Promotion and Amplification
  • Influencer Outreach
  • Content Strategy and Development
  • Content Distribution and Amplification

Survey Development, Creation, and Launch

In the first phase of the project, Heinz Marketing and SnapApp worked together to produce a survey that uncovered the impacts of the generational differences within different buying committees.  The team started with a hypothesis on these impacts, and from there, developed a multi-layered storyline, supporting points, and lastly, the questions of the survey.

Once the questions were finalized, the team created the survey using SnapApp’s proprietary platform, chosen for its more interactive, engaging experience than most other survey tools allow.  We were also able to construct a more complex survey, which provided us with richer data and results that revealed deeper insights into how B2B sellers and marketers react to generational differences in a buying committee.  Once launched, Heinz Marketing maintained the survey over its two-week span, in addition to providing frequent updates on number of completions, disqualifications, and incompletes.

Survey Promotion and Amplification

The second phase of the project encompassed the promotion and amplification of the survey.  To accomplish this, Heinz Marketing developed a multi-channel two-week promotion strategy that utilized both the Heinz Marketing and SnapApp websites, email databases, social media channels, as well as direct outreach to target influencers.  Heinz Marketing wrote email and social post copy for both teams to utilize, as well as the influencer outreach strategy and communications.

Influencer Outreach

Influencers played an important role in the promotion of the final research report as well as the following webinar.  This phase had Heinz Marketing compile a list of relevant B2B influencers, identify those who Heinz Marketing and SnapApp had pre-established relationships with, write the outreach copy to be sent by both teams, and lastly, send the communications to the specified influencers.

Content Marketing Strategy and Development

Once the results of the survey came back and the survey had closed, the team began the content development phase of the project.  The teams worked to analyze the results, organize them to tell a meaningful story, and then produce a 15-page research report from those results.  The challenge here was communicating the survey data in a consumable way that reinforced the story we were telling.

Heinz Marketing worked to draft and finalize the copy of the report, as well as provided guidance and best practices to SnapApp’s design team when it came to the layout of text, charts, and graphs.  Once complete, both teams reviewed and provided edits to the report to check for quality and ensure all information was relevant, coherent, and accurate.

In addition to the final research report, the teams also created a number of handout cards which were given out at events and other in-person opportunities to assist in promotion.  Each card presented a unique key finding from the report as well as a link to download the full asset.

B2B Content Marketing Research Results


“The process was completely collaborative – they weren’t just some vendor agency that executed
on our specific vision, 
they enriched our original concept and helped us deliver an exceptional end-product.”

– Melissa Nazar, Director of Content Strategy, SnapApp

Content Distribution and Amplification

In addition to promoting the research report, to further amplify the results of the survey, the teams decided to produce and host a joint webinar, where Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, and Aaron Dun, SVP of Marketing at SnapApp could further discuss the findings of the research in more depth, while responding to questions asked by the webinar participants.

The webinar was promoted through a variety of channels, similarly to how we promoted the survey.  Using a mix of emails, social posts, both teams’ blogs, as well as the influencers who gave their perspective on our survey findings, we were able to drive over 200 registrations for the webinar.

The Business Impact

With two new assets in the research report and on-demand webinar, as well as the extensive research findings themselves, Heinz Marketing helped SnapApp build and execute one of their highest performing campaigns of 2017.

But this impact didn’t cease on December 31st.  In fact, the nature of the survey findings allows for new content, campaigns, and messaging to continue to be created and leveraged well into 2018, providing long-term value and an impact to demand generation well-beyond the end of the proposed engagement.

With an influx of new leads and a source for new content to be created from, SnapApp is in a strong position to continue to accelerate pipeline, generate demand, and close more deals with the resources Heinz Marketing helped provide them.

“Ultimately, we ended up with content that built out one of the highest performing campaigns we had all year.
I look forward to working with the Heinz team again!

– Melissa Nazar, Director of Content Strategy, SnapApp

Looking Ahead

What does any of this mean for today’s savvy B2B sales and marketing teams?  What’s the business impact of millennials taking their seats in the buying committee?  It all comes down to personalization, intent, and thoughtfulness.

Gone are the days where B2B teams could send mass emails to their database and get a decent response back.  Gone are the days of unfocused, one-dimensional marketing campaigns.

For today’s B2B sales and marketing teams to succeed, they need to deliver personalized content marketing experiences to their prospects.  They need to take into consideration not only who they’re targeting, but also the why and how.  Millennials respond to content marketing initiatives differently from Baby Boomers, who respond to it differently from Generation Xers.  Beyond that, one must think of the roles these buyers play within their respective organizations.  Who are they?  What do they want?  What do they need?  What do they value?

Content marketing in the 21st century relies on a deep understanding of who you’re marketing to, and without this knowledge, your content marketing efforts will fall flat.  It won’t matter if you’re using the most current interactive videos, digital content, visual tools, or a combination of them all – if your message isn’t relevant, you won’t be either.

The future of content marketing relies on personalization and the only way to accomplish that is to have a profound understanding of your buyers.  So, take the time to get to know who you’re marketing to; craft a message that resonates with your prospects; and deliver a meaningful, thoughtful content marketing campaign that demonstrates your value to your audience.