Next Big Thing in Marketing: From Content Creation to Cultivating Creators

cultivate creators

To differentiate yourself, you must do things that few are willing to undertake.

Today, content marketing isn’t groundbreaking; every company is producing content. Similarly, influencer marketing is not novel. Increasingly, companies and brands are leveraging influencer marketing to expand their reach.

However, I argue that for brands to see enhanced outcomes from their content marketing initiatives, they must prioritize cultivating creators.

People trust people; they resonate with individuals. Brand logos no longer suffice as social proof.

Consider Nick Huber’s strategy for his business:

He transformed each company’s Twitter profile from displaying logos to showcasing real people.

The outcome? More individuals are following these accounts, and there’s been an uptick in direct message interactions.

The next evolution in marketing mandates that companies cultivate creators.

However, as Joe Pulizzi opined, this approach has benefits and potential pitfalls. As with all ventures, there are risks, but the rewards might be monumental for the daring.

Here’s the short video of how Joe is arguing his approach.

Currently, we’re observing a paradigm shift. Traditionally, marketing departments churned out content—more content across more platforms, predominantly from a singular source.

Yet, as we delve further into the digital era, it’s evident: that companies don’t just require content—they need creators. 🎬

While having one distributor suffices, possessing multiple “distributors” who can create, disseminate, and connect with audiences is far superior.

Faces over Logos

This explains why companies like HubSpot, Morning Brew, and ConvertKit nurture creators internally.

More faces, fewer logos.

Brands are crucial, but in an era where consumers crave interpersonal connections over mere media, we, as marketers, must recognize that people are pivotal for establishing a robust, lasting audience. A brand personified through its creators elevates trust to a novel plateau.

Today’s consumers, more skeptical than ever, aren’t solely seeking superior products or services. They yearn for experience, expertise, authenticity, and trustworthiness—evidenced by Google’s E-E-A-T update and features like LinkedIn’s “Thought Leader” ads.

There’s a burgeoning intersection between B2B industries and the Creator Economy = “The B2B Creator.”

Why do we need B2B Creators?

Transactional relationships no longer suffice. Brands must foster communities and resonate with their ethos, mission, and narrative.

The loyalty of these audiences towards a brand pales compared to the fidelity they might display to an individual who genuinely understands their needs, aspirations, and challenges.

Simply put, when faced with a predicament, individuals seek more human interactions, not sterile brand logos.

Cultivating B2B Creators bridges personal connections with professional reliability. They aren’t just content producers; they’re relationship architects.

B2B creators don’t just create content. They are the content.

They transcend superficial marketing discourses, fostering deeper, organic connections between brands and their patrons.

Let’s look at ConvertKit’s approach, exemplified through its social media strategy, emphasizing engagement and creator connectivity.

But for creators to resonate with their kin, they require familiar faces.

Enter Tom, tasked with generating relatable content on different platforms and creating a deeper connection with ConvertKit’s audience.

ConvertKit’s strategy isn’t solely predicated upon hiring individuals to represent them.

So here it is, the proof behind the advice.

But ConverKit is a great example not just because they hired people to create content on behalf of their company but because they also support their own creators.

Let’s consider Charli Marie as an example. She is the Creative Director at ConvertKit and also manages her own side hustle. She produces her own podcast, writes a newsletter, conducts marketing site audits, holds 1:1 consultations, and sells digital products for designers.

So, how does ConvertKit support Charli? Imagine discussing your own business very openly on your boss’s podcast.

Nathan Barry, the CEO of ConvertKit, hosts his own podcast called “The Art of Newsletter.” He invited Charli onto his show to discuss how she successfully runs her own newsletter. You can listen, watch or read their conversation here:

Charli was also spotlighted in a ConvertKit blog article, discussing building her personal brand as a creator.

You can read her story here

In return, she consistently creates weekly content that aligns her audience with ConvertKit’s values. Additionally, she’s been a guest on podcasts such as “The Futur” and “Creator Science,” and has been featured on platforms like Webflow TV.

Charli was not hired as an influencer. She is Convertkit’s Creative Director, which means she works side by side with her colleagues and team to build the company.

I believe we live in an era where companies should not merely hire influencers for a limited time, pay them, and have them praise the company.

If you aim to play the long game, establish authority in your industry, and build a better future for your audience, you should invest in internal talents, nurture their growth, and provide them with the platform to be thought leaders, educators, and representatives.

What are the benefits of cultivating in-house creators?

Authentic storytelling means real-time feedback and a direct line of communication with your audience. It’s agile, adaptive, and more human-centered than traditional marketing methods.

By hiring creators from within your organization, you tap into the potential of individuals who already understand the values, mission, and unique selling points of your brand.

These individuals are already “walking the talk,” which lends authenticity and credibility to their storytelling.

Incorporating in-house creators also offers invaluable insights. As they craft and disseminate content, they’re the first to receive real-time audience feedback.

This immediate response allows for quick, iterative improvements to marketing strategies and product offerings based directly on customer feedback.

Consider, for example, Tim Soulo, CMO of Ahrefs. He has associated his name with the company’s brand, and now everyone in the SEO industry connects Tim’s name and face with the Ahrefs brand and value.

How does Tim do it? Quite simply. Every time Ahrefs announces or communicates something, he also delivers content for his audience on behalf of Ahrefs.

For instance, when Ahrefs introduced its “Portfolio” feature and announced it on Twitter, Tim simultaneously created a short video on Twitter to showcase the feature.

Engaging these creators fosters a human-centered approach. As previously stated, consumers resonate more deeply with individuals they can relate to than with impersonal corporate identities.

Thus, having creators from within your organization can forge stronger connections with audiences, leading to enduring loyalty and brand advocacy.

The advantages go beyond just establishing robust relationships. In-house creators act as advocates for your company, both during and outside of working hours.

They grasp not only the products and services but also the vision, ethos, and mission of your business.

Their passion projects can enhance your brand’s visibility and open new channels for customer engagement.

What are the challenges with this approach?

This requires a cultural shift, resources to nurture and support these creators, and a long-term vision. Not every employee will be a fit, and there’s a fine line between personal and company branding. Managing this balance can prove complex, and it asks for an open-mindedness towards new work paradigms.

There are trade-offs, yet if one weighs them against the benefits, the advantages clearly outweigh.

Companies gain unique, sincere voices, humanizing the brand and cultivating audience connections.

Driving towards this movement may appear resource-intensive initially.

The amount of time and effort it takes to identify potential in-house creators, provide them with training and opportunities to improve, and continuously mentor them to their fullest potential can be considerable. However, the ROI against this cost, in the form of authentic marketing and brand representation, adds significant value in the long run.

Another challenge is delineating business-related content from personal. Boundaries must be respected and maintained as the employee also has their own personal brand to nurture. They should not be made to feel that their creativity is stifled for the company, or that their individuality is being absorbed and lost within the corporate brand.

These challenges require communication, respect for individual creativity, and policies that outline how the integration of personal and corporate branding should occur. In practice, this might involve giving employees autonomy in terms of content production and creative direction, so long as it aligns with corporate goals.

Lastly, this approach demands constant change management and adaptation. Market trends sway, consumer preferences evolve, and new platforms arise, which demand that in-house creators marshal resources rapidly, align their content, and keep up the pace. Adaptability is key, and this, too, underscores the importance of investing in employees intentionally.

As we look forward, it’s clear that the companies that will thrive will be those that focus on building relationships, not just transactions. They’ll elevate their creators, provide them with tools, and allow them to lead the narrative.

In essence, the backbone of a business cannot solely rely on traditional marketing tactics but rather a shift towards ingrained, authentic perspectives from individuals with a deep understanding of the company’s ethos.

Pablo Picasso once said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up“. In today’s world, businesses need to tap into this innate potential and encourage their people to remain creators, storytellers, and influencers as they grow within the company, adding real value to corporate ventures.

Embracing individuality, and channeling it towards company growth, is an absolute necessity in today’s highly competitive digital space.

Before we end up this article, I’m recommending you check out this podcast episode where you can hear why B2B Creator are the solution for 99% of marketing mistake that is made in the industry:

So what do you say, are you ready to cultivate your first creator in your company?