Jennifer Stalzer, Vice President, Product and Brand Communication, MasterCard, and Kristie Helms, Chief Content Officer, Head of Content Strategy, Digital Content, Marketing and Social Media, State Street Corporation, discussed how their respective companies approach business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing during a Fireside Chat at the 2016 Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Forum: Spotlight on Financial Services in Boston on Sept. 15. Together, the pair outlined some of the ways that marketers can connect with their target audiences consistently, regardless of whether they operate as B2B or B2C marketers.
According to Helms, understanding the link between a message and a target audience is crucial for today's marketers.
"You can do all you want to hone in your message and know your audience. But at the end of the day, if you don't deliver the story and connect the two, then it's all for naught," Helms noted.
In addition, learning about customers via social networks represents an excellent opportunity for marketers.
Because customers provide feedback via Twitter, Facebook and other social networks day after day, marketers must be ready to collect and evaluate customer feedback from these online sources regularly.
"It was really important that we told people who we are and what we do," Stalzer stated. "We realized there were some 30 million conversations happening around MasterCard every day or each month, and we weren't really in those conversations."
Furthermore, all companies -- and their customers -- have been affected by digital technologies.
"You can do all you want to hone in your message and know your audience. But at the end of the day, if you don't deliver the story and connect the two, then it's all for naught."
With the rising use of smartphones, tablets and other state-of-the-art technologies around the world, marketers must be able to provide relevant, engaging content via multiple channels to generate interest in their businesses.
"At the end of the day, we're all in the midst of this digital transformation," Stalzer stated. "Everybody is consuming information differently. Everybody has that information at their fingertips."
Marketers also must examine the customer experience and ensure that customers enjoy positive experiences with a business' products and brand. By doing so, marketers will be able to understand customers' needs and be better equipped to fulfill customer requests every day.
"People not only want to have a good experience with your product, but they want to know about your company," Stalzer said. "People are very interested in who you are and what you do. They have many, many choices, and it only takes a moment for them to have a bad experience with you and move on to someone else."
Furthermore, the line between marketing and communications has become blurred. This has led to greater collaboration among marketing and communications professionals -- something that has helped many companies improve their content marketing campaigns.
"Whether you're in marketing or communications, we all have the same tools," Stalzer said. "Content marketing isn't just for marketers. ... There's a lot that we can learn from each other. We're story makers. We're storytellers. We're content creators."
For marketers, maintaining flexibility may help them discover the best ways to deliver information to their target audiences.
"At the end of the day, we're all in the midst of this digital transformation."
Stalzer noted that marketers can use everything from press releases to photo captions to connect with customers, and understanding which content marketing tools are available and finding the best ways to leverage these tools could help marketers build long-term partnerships with customers.
"Every piece of content is the opportunity to tell a story or share news," Stalzer said. "Keep [content] simple, and keep it smart."
At State Street, the company frequently analyzes trending topics and how to generate content based on these topics. This enables State Street to create relevant content that drives traffic to State Street's blog, social accounts and other online sources, Helms said, and ensures the company is able to connect with consumers effectively.
"We've done a lot of listening and analyzes [our clients'] social media streams and what they're talking about," Helms said.
For instance, Helms provided an example in which State Street put together a series of emojis that illustrate new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations around modernization, liquidity and derivatives. She also pointed out that her company previously put together block chain emojis to help define various regulations.
Helms stated that even though some people criticized State Street's use of emojis, her company's distinct marketing efforts were successful.
"Within the first 10 minutes that we sent out the email with the block chain emojis, the CIO of one of the largest pension funds in the United States clicked on it," she stated. "To me, that's a win."
Looking at new forms of communication can help marketers identify and address trends faster and more effectively than ever before. Although marketers may face criticism at times, maintaining a flexible outlook may prove to be exceedingly valuable and enable marketers to find the best ways to help a company extend its global reach.