Funnel thoughts: Never mind the tech – content is the key driving revenue

I was delighted to have the chance this week to return to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium yesterday for the second annual Funnel event. It’s a great venue, which is already well known to the B2B marketing world having been the venue for the B2B Marketing Awards in 2009, and the wide open exhibition spaces under the stands gave practitioners the chance to mingle… as well as admiring the pristine pitch.

Funnel lived up to its billing as a chance to learn all you could conceivably want to (and a bit more) about the business of turning leads into sales, and as such was a clear success. There was a good buzz around the various room, and organisers Econsultancy had persuaded a good number of senior client marketers to join the vendors on the speaker roster and give some surprisingly candid testimonials about their experiences with marketing automation.

But whilst the vendors were very prominent in Funnel’s social areas and every print and online touchpoint, for me the event reinforced the fact that the critical component in transforming marketing into a revenue engine for the business is not technology: it’s content. Now more than ever before, content is king.

Now that’s not to say technology is unimportant; far from it. Technology is a great enabler of processes, and there are a number of incredibly sophisticated solutions on the market that can perform this role for your organisation. And there are a growing number of agencies that will help you deploy that technology to best effect.

But the technology counts for nothing if you don’t have the content to continuously create, sustain, nurture and ultimately convert interest into purchase. And whilst (to a greater or lesser extent) technology comes off the shelf, your content doesn’t: it is particular to your organisation and depends on multiple factors and variables – including industry, location, brand, personalities etc. As such, if you want it to succeed, your content needs to be created for you, and probably by you (or by someone who knows you very well). If you've not done so already, very soon you will have to ensure content creation, production and recycling are core competencies, and this my require a profound emaphais shift or reskilling for your marketing team.

Credit where it’s due, however: the vendors (the enlightened ones at least) understand this, and Eloqua in particular are some of the best exponents of content marketing that I can think of. But I fear this message sometimes gets lost amongst the noise about technology, which system has which functionality etc. The truth, as Catherine Toole of specialist agency Sticky Content alluded at Funnel, is that there is much you can do with good content before you even think about technology… although ultimately you will need it.

So congratulations to Econsultancy on good event – undoubtedly Funnel will have done much to raise the understanding of many B2B marketers about the challenges inherent in demand generation/revenue performance management (whatever you decide to call the process of turning marketing into a revenue engine). I just hope the right message filtered through.