Zag Ed.12 – How to Structure Teams to Drive Innovation, The Biggest Opportunity for B2B Growth, and Why You’re Missing a Key Factor in the Content Marketing Equation

🚀 Growth comes from innovation.


Innovation comes from a willingness and ability to change.


Often it’s the willingness that’s as much, if not more, of the blocker than the ability, especially in incumbent organizations.


It’s the innovators dilemma. The tension of short-term vs long-term. The need to put yourself out of business before someone else does.


There are many examples of incumbents who were unwilling to change (none more so than Blackberry), and few examples of those who were (check out this great case study on Disney+, and this one on Amazon Prime)


How do you break the innovators dilemma? Ultimately it’s about setting and delivering on a mandate to both run AND change the existing business. Operate AND innovate.


This is why so many incumbents set up innovation groups or launch flanker brands. It creates a clear, structured lane for change and innovation to occur. And that can work…but often times it only works up to a point. To a point where the the new business and brand starts to cannibalise the existing business and brand. Just when the innovation gets to a point where it has the potential to deliver real change, it gets reeled back in and slowed down.


Some incumbents take a more direct approach. They prioritize the innovation mandate first, over the operation mandate. DBS, the leading bank in Singapore and an incumbent who has managed to think, act, and grow like a challenger, asked the CEO to change the business and the CFO to run the business. That’s not how it works in most incumbents…


In order to drive long-term growth, someone needs to run the business and someone needs to change the business. This applies to the c-suite, but it also applies to your department, your team, and even yourself. You need to run your part of the business and your part of the team, but you also need to change it.


However you structure it, whatever strategy you put in place or responsibilities you delegate, make sure someone is running the business AND someone is changing the business.

(Thanks to Chris Skinner for the jam session last week on this topic).

😍 There is a massive opportunity for brand-led growth in most B2B sectors.


Because most B2B businesses treat marketing as a support function for sales. The role of marketing is to support and enable the sales function – developing collateral, optimising sales ops, etc.


But marketing and sales are two equal factors in the B2B growth equation. Marketing generates demand and builds brand. Sales converts demand and builds customers. Both need to be resourced and developed to their fullest potential to maximise growth of the business.

And especially in a world where 95% of your potential customers aren’t looking to buy at the moment you reach them, if you’re only focused on converting demand, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to generate future demand and cash flow.


Many of challenger B2B businesses disrupting their industries are taking advantage of this brand-led growth opportunity (see the playbooks from Drift11:FSBrex).


The tactics and even the strategy of what you need to do differently as a B2B growth leader will depend on your business and team. But the mission you need to set out on and accomplish is to set up marketing and sales as equals with clear roles and strong collaboration between them. Unless you are one of these best-in-class challengers already, chances are there’s much more growth you could be driving by being more brand-led.



🦷 Here’s a great case study by Marketing Dive on one of TikTok’s top advertisers (as measured by conversions, so it’s not a subjective opinion on what’s working). If you’re a B2C brand, you really should be on TikTok at this point, if not prioritizing it as your primary social channel. For SmileDirectClub, they’ve seen success with a three-pronged strategy that’s all about creating engaging content that’s contextual to the platform and tapping into a network of influencers to answer user questions about their product. The big takeaway for CMO John Sheldon?


“…The big thing that we’ve learned in our advertising [on] TikTok is that you don’t go into TikTok and just place ads. You go into TikTok, become a creator and become part of the TikTok community.”


🧨 Think in headlines. That’s how others think of your brand.


It’s tough to admit, but most of what we do doesn’t matter. It doesn’t breakthrough, it doesn’t stand out, it isn’t remembered.


But some things do. Some things make headlines. Either literally, or figuratively in the sense that people notice them, remember them, and talk about them.



Focus on the few headlines that will matter – plan them out: make sure you maximise their potential and follow through on the execution.


The headlines are what define your brand.



🏭 What’s more important in content marketing? Quality or quantity.


It’s both, but quantity is hugely undervalued right now.


Here’s why.


Content marketing is about adding value. Think of it as an equation – the sum of everything you is the value you add to your audience, which then drives your business objectives.


Most people think of it as an equation

  • Quality = Value

But there’s a factor missing in that equation, a multiplying factor, actually. The real equation for content marketing is

  • Quality x Quantity = Value

The quantity factor is as important in this equation as the quality one. Most people are much more focused and explicit on how to raise their quality, but they should be as focused and explicit on how to raise their quantity as well.


And you need to find the right combination of those two factors that create the best output. Sure, you could invest in producing the highest quality content possible, but that means you won’t be able to produce as much of it. What happens if you reduce the quality from prefect to pretty good but do twice as much? You have to know what the minimum quality level is that you and your audience find acceptable, but once you hit that you should be trying to drive volume as much as possible.


Quantity also gives you some things that quality doesn’t in modern-day marketing.

  1. It lets you fill more of the feed. Content has such a short shelf-life, you need a lot of it to reach and saturate your audience.
  2. It gives you more feedback on what’s working, not working. Digital channels offer huge advantages in the data you can get from your audience. More content takes more advantage of that.
  3. It gives you more chances to tap into earned media potential. You never know when something will get shared, where the tipping point will be. You can engineer the content as best as possible, but sometimes it comes down to timing and circumstances outside of your control. The more swings you take the more chances you have of hitting a home run.

Quality AND quantity. High volumes of high quantity content. You need to be pushing for both.


Have a thought on this? We'd love to hear it.

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