How do you create that great B2B content for the sales force?

March 2020, the world changed seemingly overnight.

In March 2020, Salesforce reacted to the new business reality seemingly overnight, launching its Top Change content initiative on March 17.

It's not a typo. The program's first blog launched on March 17, days before California issued a shelter-in-place order and effectively closed airports.

How can such a large company turn around so quickly – not just on one channel, but across all of its channels and in multiple formats? And not just pivot, but deliver results that surpass any of their expectations?

The story behind Leading Through Change illustrates why it won Project of the Year and why we chose Jessica Bergmann, Salesforce content strategy driver, for 2021 B2B Content Marketer of the Year five.

I'm excited to show you the behind-the-scenes look at this award-winning project based on the information Salesforce provided in the award application and on the details Jessica shared with us at Content Marketing. World 2020 and in interviews with CMI.

How does a company as big as @Salesforce turn around a dime to launch an award winning campaign just weeks after the pandemic? @EditorStahl tells the story via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click to post

Months of 'Overnight' Content Strategy Change Made

The answer to how Salesforce rolled out such a quick Lead Through Change sounds simple. The company based a documented content strategy and trained the 1,300 marketers who worked for the company (at the time) to follow it.

But that simple answer obscured the months of effort behind it. Basic work began around July 2019, when Jessica and the team began creating a "content revolution" at the tech giant. As part of that revolution, Jessica and team launched a fully integrated planning effort that included content strategists working with each business and industry group to profile the strategy. their content summary for the year. The content series that evolved from that work (360 Perspectives) was paused as clients' business challenges changed as a result of the pandemic, although some work was adapted into Leading Information. via Change and some implemented later. But the principles of the revolution laid the groundwork for Leading Through Change:

  • Make makes content a strategic and integral partner in marketing planning

  • Co-create content with Salesforce customers and partners to earn trust

  • Stop “random content acts” in favor of Chain and content that leads the audience to the next step

When COVID hit, Salesforce stopped all marketing, including the 360 ​​Series of Perspectives Jessica's team spent months preparing for.

“The needs of companies have changed,” says Jessica. “The messages and campaigns we planned before COVID are no longer relevant.”

In rethinking their marketing approach, Salesforce made three key decisions:

  • All new program information needs CMO approval.

  • Nearly all first-time content offers are not offered (gating Jessica said it doesn't feel right that their goal is to help during COVID).

  • The customer and market insights team announced all new plans and messages.

From listening to customers (and their team of insights), the company saw a need for information around how to digital Fast. Companies need to figure out how to keep their employees successful from far away . They need to face new business challenges, like deciding when to return to the office and how to operate safely.

From those and other insights, Leading Through Change was born.

The goals are simple:

  • Delivering actionable, global leadership content from the community, world-class experts, and Salesforce leaders

  • Create a forum for the community and chat with colleagues

  • Show humanity in turbulent times, and position Salesforce as a trusted partner

March 2020, @Salesforce has paused all marketing. Within weeks, it released Lead Through Change. To do that, they had to completely overhaul #ContentStrategy. @jbergmann shares how to do it via @EditorStahl @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click to post

Bring change to life

Getting the sequence from goal to quickstart is a must. Everyone participates.

“We put all the wood behind an arrow,” says Jessica, “We went through a weekly approval process. We worked in a system. We all work through a planning process. ”

In a way, the crisis has brought about the content revolution that the team has been working on for months. The content team already has a seat at the strategy table. And the desire to co-create with customers has proven helpful for the Lead Through Change initiative, just as it has been in the previous series.

When a pandemic hits, no one has all the answers, says Jessica. They had to ask, “How can we lead change with our customers, experts, and partners?”

The answer is to put the customer first. "They're telling us how they're navigating the impact of the pandemic," she said.

As Salesforce explains in the award submission: “We created content about what we know – led by values ​​and customer-centric – while tapping into the expertise of medical professionals. international, CEOs and government leaders”.

Salesforce has partnered with experts , which includes top executives and employees from various industries. The involvement of these experts allowed the team to work on topics they had never covered before, including workplace happiness, upskilling, success from anywhere, and vaccine administration.

For example, they have published a series of articles and videos based on interviews with Dr. David Agus, such as this one one on why companies should consider hiring a chief medical officer. The article was published on the general Salesforce blog and tagged with the Lead Change initiative.

Salesforce has also created a resource center with instructions as below COVID Response Playbook and How to Open Your Business Safely .

And they recognize other major changes underway in 2020 and 2021 as conversations about justice, race and inclusion heighten around the world. For example, the company organized Music for Change: Hear the Next Generation Raise Their voices for a brighter future a celebration and live contest highlighting original, digitally produced songs by students around the world and featuring celebrity judges,, Jewel, Dave Wish, and Dr. Ron C. Smith.

“I think this is a combination of interviews With the experts, thinking ahead of the change, talking about our product innovation, and then delivering a moment of entertainment and brevity is what excites customers,” explains Jessica. “Customers are proud to be a part of it.”

Experts plus innovation plus entertainment and appeal is the winning formula for #ContentMarketing @Salesforce, said @jbergmann via @EditorStahl @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click to Tweet

Provide results

Finally, Leading Through Change used a multi-national, multimedia approach that combines broadcast, video-on-demand, blogs, audio, online learning modules, and media channels. Social media in more than 20 countries and 15 languages.

In the first month of the series, potential customers' organic traffic to the website increased by 47%. Series of live broadcasts Reached more than 600 million viewers on social and owned channels, with an average of 10 million views per episode. Salesforce's blog newsletter audience has grown by more than 70%.

Webinar form completions are growing 80x, resulting in almost all 5% year-over-year increase engagement in the first month of Change Lead.

Leading Through Change has also helped Salesforce internally. It matches the need for new products that empower sales teams and fills that need with products like and Vaccine Cloud .

Salesforce has also used the project's success to attract new attendees to Dreamforce — its biggest event of the year — taking place virtually in 2020. Via LinkedIn interaction retargeting they earned over 600,000 impressions on the 2020 Dreamforce Signup Page and 1,400 page clicks.

It also received the attention of the business world. As Matt Derella, Twitter's global vice president, explains:

The Lead Through Change Program is a prime example of a business adapting to change to create value for customers and create an advantage over their competitors. The quality of the content and the scale of the conversation was breathtaking. After their initial jealousy, other leading brands are learning and trying to catch up with Salesforce's innovative approach.

@Salesforce's Lead Through Change Program is a prime example of a business adapting to change. @Derella via @EditorStahl @CMIContent says the quality of #content and the scale of the conversation is breathtaking. #CMWorld Click to Tweet

Learn from experience

Leading Through Change is proven transformative for content strategy and content marketing at Salesforce. And, as with any transition, it's not easy.

When you tell people that there's a content initiative they all need to do, you can expect a response. As Jessica said, “Of course, there will be friction.”

Working in a single system is useful because everyone can see what they are working towards.

What helped change the conversation from “No, you can't do this” to “No, this doesn't fit our approach, but here's how you can modify or merge ideas this to include in the series”.

In the end, the results spoke for themselves. And the lessons it teaches also inform their work on new content projects (including print magazines). Vantage Point released this summer and brand new Sales force + streaming service.)

Ultimately, says Jessica, the experience “is a key learning method for a lot of groups. We all got stronger then. It streamlines our handling and change the way we operate and develop content across the board. ”

Now, that leads to change.

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Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute