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How Fortune 500 Marketing Experience Can Work for a Niche Market

Authors: Jess Beth Taylor
Posted Under: The Content Experience Show
Content Experience Show Logo
Hosted By

Anna Hrach

Convince & Convert
About The Content Experience Show:

Welcome to The Content Experience Show where content experience is the new content marketing. It’s not only about reaching our audiences where they are, but engaging them with a personalized experience of meaningful, useful content that they’ll take with them over time. The guests on the Content Experience Show share strategies, tips, and real-world examples of how they’re taking their content marketing to the next level and providing their current and prospective customers with a true content experience. This isn’t just a trend. It’s a movement.

Apple Podcast Reviews:

It doesn't get any better for content marketers. They present a balanced, insightful discussion of current trends and ask all the right questions. Their guest list is a "Who's Who" of content professionals. Outstanding.

Jared Johnson Piano

I love listening to marketing podcasts and this one is on my must-listen to list. Very knowledgable hosts and topical discussions.

The Marketing Book Podcast

Beth Taylor, Marketing Director at the Airline Tariff Publishing Company, joins the Content Pros Podcast to dig in to what it’s like to go from owning content in a large organization to building the marketing department of a small organization from the ground up.

Beth-TaylorSlimming Down and Building Up

Moving from the land of marketing for a Fortune 500 with broad offerings to running the shop for a much smaller niche organization involves lots of scoping, learning, and elbow grease.
While it may seem easier or wiser to stay in a comfy and laudable career with a global company, there is a lot of opportunity and career-defining success in paring down. Building a marketing department for a unique product has provided Beth with the professionally invaluable chance to stretch and tone her strategic legs.
One of Beth’s most impactful learnings was in translating the intangible to the tangible through content marketing. A thoughtful, well-executed marketing strategy can show customers the value of a product through seemingly unconnected mediums.
This is especially important for niche markets, where everybody uses your very particular product and has come to underestimate its presence in their daily life.
Engaging and surprising content can bring home the utility and value of any product, large or small.

In This Episode

  • How internally answering tough questions about your campaign before implementation leads to more successful executive buy-in
  • Why marketing for an intangible product means bringing it into the physical realm
  • How starting from scratch in an established industry leads to a thrilling and rewarding career
  • Why successfully relaunching a marketing campaign sometimes means not waiting for permission


Quotes From This Episode

“I’m coming in there from a cloud/high-tech lens and I’m not going to settle for IT as this dying breed.” —@BethATaylor20
“Anything that left our team had some degree of testing or data-driven inference attached to it.” —@BethATaylor20
“When you owned a market, you didn’t really have to do marketing until it was as digital as it is today.” —@BethATaylor20
How Fortune 500 Marketing Experience Can Work for a Niche Market Click To Tweet
“You have the traditional ways of doing things or distributing that data, and then you have new ways and new models that are being pitched very strongly because there is a lot of profit in it. I’m not ignoring either.” —@BethATaylor20
“By putting it out there, getting the results coming in, and demonstrating that coming back to the senior management team, it makes for a pretty strong argument.” —@BethATaylor20
“It’s up to the marketing leader’s job and the team’s job to demonstrate the power that can come from combining those messages and making them role based messages.” —@BethATaylor20
“As a successful content manager, it pays off to invest heavy early on because you can use that for content one day. You can go a lot of directions if you have the data up front.” —@BethATaylor20
How Fortune 500 Marketing Experience Can Work for a Niche Market Click To Tweet



Content Pros Lightning Round

How did you go from marketing school to investment banking and back to marketing again? I got a job offer at Budweiser the same week I got a job offer at Deutsche Bank, and all my friends said to go to Budweiser. I kept looking at my bank account and decided to go the Deutsche Bank route.
What type of content do you tune into for fun? I watch Homeland, Ray Donovan… I like those shows that are gripping stories.
Where is the best place you have visited? North County – San Diego you cannot beat. It’s like living in in the suburbs but living at the beach.


Randy: Welcome to another episode of Content Pros. I’m Randy Frisch from Uber Flip and as always now I’ve got Tyler Lessard joining me from Vidyard. Today, we’ve got a really exciting episode. I think we’re going to get to really dig in to what it’s like for a marketer to own content in a large organization, and then pull that into a smaller organization, where they have to own all of marketing and figure out how content gets prioritized in this big new world, where she’s trying to build that brand. Tyler, you want to tell us a little bit more about Beth?
Tyler: Yeah, we’ve got Beth Taylor with us. Beth’s got a really interesting background having been in some industries, that I feel are very tough as a marketer, government IT, and there’s some places that I’ve tried to market to before, I know the challenge there. As Randy mentioned, I think really shifted your vision for what you want to be as a marketer and the opportunity out there and moving from the world of content at IBM into taking on a broad focus in marketing at ATPCO. With out further ado, maybe I’m going to ask you what could be the toughest question of the entire podcast, Beth. That’s to explain what ATPCO actually stands for.
Beth: I ask myself the same question every day. ATPCO stands or Airline Tariff Publishing Company. Which if you can imagine, is a company name that was founded over 50 years ago.
Randy: That makes sense.
Tyler: So you recently, I’ll just give you a little bit of the background, from what I know. You recently joined ATPCO after a number of years at IBM, and a very successful career at IBM. Looking at your LinkedIn profile, I just wanted to start off with a quote from there. To flatter you maybe a little bit, but to dig on some of the success that you’ve had. It says, under your direction, your content strategy dramatically increased organic video engagement, delivered the most watched videos in IBM’s history, the top performing lead space ever on and a huge boost in engagement on Facebook. So, it sounds like in your life at IBM there was an incredible focus on content but not the old world of content, which you would expect there. Some of these new worlds of social, of video, of driving real engagement in the market. I would like to start there and ask you to talk a little bit about your experiences there and in your three or four years at IBM. How did you come to really delivering the kinds of results that you’ve seen out there?
Beth: Yeah, so to clarify that quote, that was for the IBM Systems Business Unit. For anyone that’s unfamiliar with IBM there’s several, no fewer than eight business units at any one time. Each business unit is like it’s own company. IBM Systems is probably the oldest part of IBM. It’s what you think of as the IT infrastructure business. It generates a lot of the revenue to keep the company operational into their vision, their vision with Watts … More contemporary stuff, technology. It’s not going away. It’s this foundation layer, that as a content marketer and a marketer in general, was often thought of as the forgotten child. The piece of a business that, yeah, you know, go into the IT infrastructure business if you want to do things the way they’ve always been done. I really took it upon myself, coming in there, I came in there after having launched our cloud, market shaping strategy at Bousell and Hamilton. So, I’m coming in there from a cloud, high tech lens and I’m not going to settle for IT as this dying breed. Me, looking myself in the mirror every day, waking up hungry to change that perception through content.
Tyler: I love that idea of coming in and looking to change that. I think you’re dealing with a market that has some perceptions, both on the market itself, but also, who that audience is and who they care about. I think what was most exiting when I was learning more about you was the Remix IT project that you did there. Which, seemed like the exact opposite of what you would expect in how you market to an IT audience. Did you want to talk a little bit about that and how that came to be?
Beth: Yeah, absolutely. That was actually my … You know how people say, over the course of your career you should move on the upswing, right? So, the day I took the offer to come to ATPCO to start their marketing communications division was the day I got the news that that was the most watched and engaged with campaign of all time for that business unit. It was a really, really nice accolade to make that decision off of.
The Remix IT, interesting story where it started. I was on Twitter one day, probably after dinner or whenever, my personal time. I saw a video of my friend’s brother, who’s a fairly successful DJ, who had taken his razor and gotten a perfect G note and turned that G note into a hip hop track. It went viral. I saw it the first day and I thought this is genius, this is so smart. I watched it over the course of that week, it go from ten views to over a million. Right?
I said to myself, the fact that I knew from the first instant I watched that that this was going to be something that caught on, why are we not thinking about this in the way we’re engaging with our own product. He’s looking at a shaver. I’m looking at a server, not a server farm, but a data center. What’s one of the most obvious traits of that product? You can engage with them. If you put every single product that IBM has on a table, you know they have consultants, they have people, they have software, they have APIs, all that great stuff. Very few of them can you actually touch. I was like, that’s the key. That is where we need to focus.
Went from there, looking at the types of DJs we actually wanted to pull in, I actually pulled in that original DJ Andrew Hypes, who kind of was the brain child behind this, or was the inspiration for me. We took those two DJs, sent them to data centers around the world, getting perfect notes from all of our machines. We looked at it a few different ways. There’s obviously, the obvious thing, where you take those sounds and turn it into a music video or some sort of track. Okay, that’s great. How can we take this a step further. We wanted to give the samples to our customers so that they could create their own tracks themselves and also do it for folks that are kind of a layman in that world. We used the IBM Watson technology to allow them to create tracks themselves and share it on social media. Finally, as a true content marketer, always thinking about the next call to action, how are we going to get that person from a moment of entertainment or surprise, oh, I’ve never seen a data center operator look cool to considering the product. That’s where the real magic in this campaign happened.
That was taking that DJ, and the samples he had created. Having him sit down, with our customers, for example Plenty of Fish was one of them. Our DJ sat down with the director of IT at Plenty of Fish, listened to his theory of IT architecture and created a track from that discussion. The sound of the perfect match. It’s something that’s very indirect. You’re taking music theory, spinning it into a customer story and ultimately a product.
Tyler: Randy, did you see the video and are you inspired to make a drum and bass track to amplify what a content marketer really is? Are you ready to do that?
Randy: I’m so glad you asked because I’ve got something keyed up here to play … I’m the last … Musical … but I did see it. I thought I was really cool. I’m just wondering, aside from how cool it is and all that. How did you figure out that that would be something that would work for your audience? Did you do testing on that? I think that’s a tricky part, sometimes as a marketer, right? We sit in a room, we brain storm these amazing ideas, sometimes we fall in love with them ourselves. I’m just curious in this case, obviously it worked, because it got watched more than anything else. How did you know that this type of music and this type of way of connecting with your audience would resonate?
Beth: I’m glad you asked that because, for anyone that’s worked in a really large, matrix organization, I was asked that question by every single, executive that came into contact with me. How is this not just a waste of money? How is this not your personal idea come to fruition because you have the budget to do so? Simply said, our content strategy team, it was myself and two ladies out of Austin, Texas, who were phenomenal, Jeannetta Clement and Melissa Lambert. Anything that left our team, had some degree of testing or data driven inference attached to it. So we had this idea, we knew that it was probably viable because of its emotional connection in that pathos means to persuasion. Right? That connection through something that’s a little intangible and more about personal identity. We took it to an internal group that our market intelligence team had access to, basically our exact target audience. We asked them. What do you think of this? Does this resonate with you? The funny thing is, more often than not, there is a lot of undercover musicians in the white collar world. I’ve seen it at the company I’m at right now, I’ve seen it at IBM, I’ve seen it on the floor of these events.
I’ve had a lot of people coming up to me and being like, you know I actually have a record label in my side time. It was, that we were taking their day job and connecting it to something that they found cool or interesting or that they were passion about as a person, outside of a day job. If it wasn’t that, it was, in some cases, like I said, these guys had been attached to, I’m just the IT guy keeping the lights on. We were suddenly making their jobs seem pretty cool.
Tyler: It’s interesting. You’ve both touched on some important things that I’ve seen both in my experience as well with making sure it’s going to be sure it’s something that resonates, but making it … What I liked about Remix IT, and how you did it, it ended up making it more personal for those audiences. Like you said, bringing it into an actual customer, showing them physically in the space. I found that that’s such a magical connection, when you can make it personal, make it interesting and make it really exiting for people.
I’ll share one story that I have related to that. In the very same, similar market, we have a client, Lenovo, who, very similar actually they did a parody rap video for their IT audience, very recently as part of a campaign they have called, Users Happen. What I loved about this campaign, what tipped me to it was, Randy, your question, they were under the same thread of, they wanted to create this really fun rap video, but did it really work for their audience? When they talked to their audience they found that IT people really love to share stories of users in their business who do silly things. Who drop a laptop, or break things, and of course they were promoting rugged products. So they produced this rap video showing these IT people as heroes amongst their employee base, who are these folks that are dropping equipment and things like that. They actually made it as a personalized video, where they would bring the person’s name right into the content. They saw an incredible engagement on that. I think, again, it was the same idea of knowing the audience, what is the story line that’s going to pull them in? Making it fun and personal, and making it something they really want to share. Which is obviously a big part to today’s marketing. It sounds like, if you are targeting IT folks, hip hop and dance music, whatever you need to do, that’s the answer.
Let’s switch over to your new life. You’ve recently come over to ATPCO and expanding out your focus. You’re starting fresh there. What got you really excited about that opportunity and what have you done in your first few months there to really accelerate the business?
Beth: What got me excited? First off, this is a company that has never had a formal marketing communications department. They haven’t had to. They pretty much own the market when it comes to the fare distribution process. If you have recently bought an airline ticket, it’s very likely that it’s come through our walls. You can imagine, when you own a market you don’t really have to do marketing, or you didn’t have to before the market was as digital as it is today and consumer patterns have certainly changed. Really, it was kink of that blank slate. Coming in, recognizing that this is the market leader in their craft. I’m a data nerd, and definitely a tech junky, so the fact that they were a big data marketplace did not hurt. I think it’s something like, a hundred and sixty million fares on our database at any given time. If I was an app developer, I would want to work here. That being said, from a marketing angle, they’re not selling themselves. Clearly, this is a diamond that has been hidden. It’s hidden in the industry. It’s like the best kept secret in a way. As a marketer, how motivating is that? If you like a challenge, you have this great foundation that hasn’t been tapped. That’s really what turned me on to it, was coming in and showing the world what they’re actually doing. If this company had been started three years ago it would have been marketed a totally different way, in terms of applied technology.
I’ve been in, about five months now, and it’s been crazy. I work long hours and I love it. It’s one of those things, I wake up every morning, and I’m really, really excited to come to work, which is how I like my career to go. I came in, I took a look at the team, the guys that were here, the guys we needed to hire. There was no real digital function, or digital strategy. Content was missing. Corporate communications was missing. I’ve been through a process of analysis, evaluation, setting the strategy, setting a multi year approach to what we need to get done. Certainly, this year is the foundation. From a foundational perspective, I think most content marketers start in the same place, that is research, data, understanding the customer. That’s really what I’ve been focused on the last couple of months in particular.
Randy: Beth, I’m curious as you describe that. It sounds like such a exciting opportunity. Coming from IBM where there is so much man power and so many different ways you can attack a segment verses now, you’ve got to figure out every segment, every stage and as you described foundation. Obviously, you’re going to get beyond that in the months that come, I think you’re only about five months in you said. As marketers, one of the things that, definitely Tyler and I hear people debating about these days, is where should we focus in the funnel or where should we focus in the buyer journey? I’m wondering where your first focus is going to be? As you reinvent this brand, is your need to focus more on top of the funnel or is your need to focus more customer marketing because as you said you’re kind of owning the market today? Where do you take that first look in that type of a company in this stage of what you want to do, but what the company needs?
Beth: That’s the question I get asked the most, Not only externally, but within the company itself, because there is so much to do. Just to give your audience a little background, if you think of the airline industry, it is a small industry, comparatively and it’s very relationship based. They’re going through a similar kind of experience a lot of industries are, where they’ve operated the same way for a long time, we’ve had the same accounts for a long time, there’s only so many airlines in the world. There’s all these new disrupters coming in, coming in from tech, coming in from startups, and from consultancies trying to convince the world of new ways of doing things. It is a two pronged thing. I needed to get a sense of how satisfied our current customer base was, both at the user level, of the guys that are in the data every day and at the decision maker level, the guys that are responsible for cutting the check to send their data in or get data out. How bought in are they? How easily swayed are they to some disruptive new way of doing things? You’ve got to do both, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to separate the two. It’s kind of like what happened in tech, and all these IBMs in example with the mainframe. You have the mainframe going one trend line and they suddenly realized that there was a whole different buyer segment that needed a different kind of promise and a different kind of positioning at the exact same time. That’s where a lot of Linux 1 Rock hopper came in. It’s the exact same thing here. You have the, dare I say, traditional ways of doing things or distributing that data, and then you have new ways and new models that are being pitched very strongly, because there is a lot of profit in it. I’m not ignoring either.
Randy: I’m curious, I went on the website and obviously you said you still have plans to make your mark there and play with the brand. As you said, it feels very product marketing focused first, right? That’s at least the impression I had. How are you selling content internally? How are you taking on, as you put it, people who have been there and had this mind set? They have this thing called the hero headline, talks about having been doing this for fifty years. How are you injecting this, which has relatively only been there ten percent of the life of the company? This whole content focus that companies have, how are you selling that inside?
Beth: I think the way I like to sell things is by doing it and showing them the results. I came in first day asking for all the data that we had access to. In the five months, we’ve actually put a veneer on the website, if you look at it today, we’ve got a really talented digital strategist in the door who was able to update the main page of the website in two weeks, because it was that dire in terms of transitioning this really, almost a product catalog for a website into more of an engaging experience. It was funny, because why wouldn’t they have done that two years ago, three years ago, ten years ago? For whatever reason, there wasn’t the executive in place that saw that as the priority over the other activities of the business. By, my coming in, and making that change very quickly, not asking permission, making the change and seeing how it floats, people were able to react to it. They were like, oh, this looks a lot better. We have social accounts now, look at what we’re saying. Look at the people coming in to potentially be hired into the company that saw a blog from our VP of product strategy. Those were things that weren’t happening, so, by putting it out there, getting the results coming in and demonstrating that coming back to the senior management team, it’s pretty strong stuff.
Tyler: Beth, you mentioned something that is really important for the content marketing audience and something I think we need to instill more into that practice, which is taking the customer centric view, and the buyer centric view. It sounds like, I love that, you’re spending a lot of your first few months really trying to understand the customers. I assume you’re talking to a lot of customers. Trying to understand what value your organization brings to them, beyond just what they think it is. I noted in one of your articles talking about your first few months there, number one was focus on buyer centric messaging. This is something, that traditionally, product marketing owns that messaging framework and really the voice of the customer and customer value. To me, so much of that needs to be a part of content marketing, I try to encourage my own team to get out there and talk to customers, and parallel to getting the feedback from others, really understand who these people are, what drives them, and what value they’re looking for and what problems they have. I’m just curious on your reaction to that, specifically, do you have a methodology, or can you recommend one or two ideas for content marketers out there of how they can do that. How can they get out there and better understand the customers to take an outside in approach?
Beth: To the first part of that, I personally, I know that there are a lot of product marketing, or product executives who deeply feel like each message has to be tied to what they’re trying to sell. They have good reason, right? They’re incentivized. If their product sells more, they’re doing better in their career. It’s really up to the marketing leader’s job, and the team’s job, to demonstrate the power that can come from combining those messages and making them role-based messages. The message to a VP of Pricing an airline is way different than the head of digital. That’s just a fact, you can’t give them the same product message. One of the examples, I said lead by example here so, in the last two months I conducted over 80 interviews with our external customers at all levels, in all regions, at all parts of our supply chain. It came into a hundred page document, with specific quotes that were anatomized based on who the customer type was and what level. It’s really hard to argue with that. I said early on, “I am successful if when we get back in the room here”, I’m talking to the senior executives, “If we get back in the room here, we’re not going to sit for two hours arguing subjectively over which direction we need to go, it’s all going to be in this document.” Actually, the guys who helped me with this had also helped Oracle Cloud’s new branding. They said to me, you know you did double the interviews that Oracle did. I had to laugh, because, as a content manager, especially a successful one, it pays off to invest heavy early on, because you can use that for content one day, you can use that for digital theory or decision, more tech stack decisions. You can go a lot of directions if you have the data up front.
Your second question was, how can a content marketer get out there and start to employ some of this. Obviously, if you have a budget, there’s one way, which is a more structured, agency led, third party led kind of a thing. I think it’s a lot easier than that, quite frankly. Go talk to sales, go talk to the guys that are with a customer, go ask to attend a customer visit. If you are not able to, for whatever reason their not wanting to bring the content team along, all these guys are out on LinkedIn, they’re out on social, out in the blogs. You can create relationships very easily these days. You just have to take the incentive to reach out.
Randy: That’s awesome. We want to make sure that marketers always understand who our content pros are on this podcast. We’ve got a few minutes left here and I would just like to dig on you here Beth, I’ll try not to embarrass you or anything like that. Sometimes it happens, so you know, we’ll see where this goes.
First of all, I’m super curious, one of the things that we talk about all the time as marketers, is the journey. Owning the journey, the buyer journey. At Uber Flip we do a conference where the theme is Owning the Journey. We do that in the summer in Toronto. It’s a great event where we get marketers out. One of the cool things that we’re able to highlight is people’s own personal journeys. What I find interesting about yours is you went to school for marketing but then you somehow ended up in investment banking. In maybe one or two sentences, how did that happen?
Beth: I can remember, I got a job offer at Budweiser the same week I got a job offer at Deutsche Bank, and all my friends said to go to Budweiser. I kept looking at my bank account, and decided to go the Deutsche Bank route. I kind of sold out. The moment I got in the door there, it was in London, so that was a good experience. The moment I got in the door there, I regretted it. Within two years I was back in New York City applying for marketing jobs, and at that point, once you’ve been cast as a financier, it’s really hard to get back into the real meat of marketing. I went back to grad school, and restarted my career from there.
Randy: That would have been tough. Although, just think, you could have had the DJs come in and play with beer bottles at Budweiser, or cash at the bank, to make those noises. I mean, I would actually tune into both options though.
Beth: I will pass that along.
Randy: This idea’s going to be rinse and repeated by everyone who’s listened to this podcast. Just getting to know you behind the scenes, what type of content do you tune into for fun? What are you watching on Netflix, or if you’re not on Netflix, HBO, what have you?
Beth: I’m not going to lie. I’ve been sucked into all the maelstrom that is our political landscape. I watch Homeland, Ray Donovan. I like those shows that are just gripping stories, where you’re just kind of, the stories progress over hours and hours, you know. I wish I had the time to binge watch it, but every now and then I’ll get a couple in at a time. They’re gripping, and they feel real, they’re tied ever so slightly to real events, which gives you some sense of, this could happen to us one day.
Randy: Awesome. My last question for you is more just curiosity. I was on your LinkedIn and people can check you at BethTaylor@ATPCO, and you have this beautiful sunset up at the top. The question is, where is the best place you’ve been to? Is that a pic of it? That kind of background image? Or where are you dying to go to that that setting expectations for?
Beth: That is a reminder for myself of where I want to go back to. Without a doubt I am a North County, San Diego-head. I would love to return there. When I was at IBM I had the luxury of living where I wanted to, because of our situation. North County, you cannot beat, it’s like living in in the suburbs, but living at the beach. You have all this access, and also there’s the San Diego Surf Soccer Organization is fantastic, I’m a big soccer player so … it’s to remind me to get back there.
Randy: Amazing. I like that. That’s more to look forward in your journey. This has been awesome today. You’ve obviously got your hands full with managing marketing at a company that’s got so much history and it’s got so much ahead and it’s great for us to learn from you, with everything you’ve done at IBM. On behalf of Tyler at Vidyard, and I’m Randy at Uber Flip. Thanks for listening in today. This has been a great opportunity for all of us to hear from a content pro. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, I urge people to keep in mind Content Pros is one of many Convince & Convert podcasts that you can check out. There’s also Social Pros, there’s also Jay Today with Jay Baer, Marketing Marvels. If you like this one specifically, which hopefully you do, you can go to Find all other episodes that we’ve got from quite a few seasons now. Also, find us on iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. When you find us and there’s opportunity to give feedback let us know, let Tyler and I know. Tyler what’s your Twitter, by the way, so that people can call out to you or what have you?
Tyler: It is @tylerlessard.
Randy: Perfect. And I’m also very creative @randyfrisch. So, we look forward to hearing from you. Until next time. Thanks for joining Content Pros.

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