News and Views

This is the real test of great content marketing.

Providing free insightful information to your target audience (content marketing) is a way of engaging clients and potential customers in a time-effective and scalable manner.

At its best, it is a demonstration of your skill, expertise and knowledge; an insight into how you think and operate as an organisation.

Over time, people will feel like they are getting to know you. They will appreciate your initiative and will come to respect you as an authority.

There is one major obstacle to achieving such nirvana. Can you keep it up?

In the old days when B2B marketing teams had isolated and fleeting opportunities to catch people’s attention, it was all about being clever and eye-catching.

Today, cleverness is not enough. You have to demonstrate wisdom. And rather than catching the eye, it is more important to be consistent and authentic. Because digital communications allow you to sustain a regular communication and if you don’t have something genuine and authoritative to say, you will be found out.

Any leading business will have such substance and insight, but it is normally stored in highly inconvenient locations: people’s brains, mainly. And those brains are busy doing other things, like running the business.

Your marketing team may be a crack squad of multi-disciplined communication geniuses, but if they only get half an hour a week per business-brain, they will never have enough context, much less content, to sustain a content marketing strategy. This is particularly the case in complex, knowledge-led industries, where common sense and the company handbook will only get you so far.

In such situations, one thing is for sure. A glamorous B2C marketing agency will be of no help whatsoever.

Another approach is to deploy a content agency that is already half way up the knowledge curve. Sector experts who will intuitively understand what you are trying to achieve and be able to extrapolate the briefest grunt or illegible scrawl from your senior partners and convert them into clearly articulated and beautifully presented prose.

And it’s not just about words. They say a picture can paint a thousand words but how often do graphics really earn their keep? Only designers who spend all their time immersed in complex subject matter are able to consistently appear from beneath the waves of chaos with info-graphics and visual approaches that bring both order and beauty to the world.

When it comes to B2B content marketing, you can’t run away from the detail, and you can’t avoid complexity. The best you can do is seek an agency that finds what your company does to be genuinely fascinating. And go from there.

We are delighted to welcome Dr Sarah Harding to the Linear B team.

Sarah is a leading life sciences and chemicals industry writer, editor and adviser to the pharmaceuticals industry. She joins us as a Senior Consultant.

Sarah has a PhD in plant pathology, she co-founded and sold Alpha-Plus Medical Communications, a consultancy catering to such as Novartis, Sanofi-Aventis and GlaxoSmithKline, and most recently was editor of Speciality Chemicals Magazine.

Sarah brings a wealth of technical and editorial experience in her chosen fields, and is the perfect complement to our growing team of specialist editorial and marketing professionals.

Read her bio on the team page, here

I recently attended an excellent lecture by Dr Florian Artinger, a behavioural scientist from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. He offered the following maixm: simple strategies work best in complex siutations. 

The profundity of this statement has great implications for everyone working in complex roles and technical industries. In the following article, I tried to extrapolate some conclusions.

An elegant and on-message Christmas and New Year card designed by our Creative team. We hope you enjoy.

In December I had the pleasure of moderating a panel of leading private equity risk managers and LPs on the subject of ‘What role for risk management in private equity?’ at the Said Oxford Risk Symposium, hosted by LDS Partners.

Asked to describe private equity risk management, my five panelists provided six definitions, which sums up nicely the state of risk management in the industry. Despite the maturity of the private equity industry in many ways, risk management remains an amazingly idiosyncratic activity between managers.

Should risk officers concern themselves with individual investments or only the portfolio level? The majority thought the latter, but not unanimously so. Should risk be defined as the risk of losing money, or the risk of not achieving a firm’s stated return objectives? Losing money will kill a firm fast. But not hitting returns could mean a slow death.

Meanwhile, do mathematical approaches typical of financial market risk management lend themselves well to private equity risk management, where data is so much scarcer. And what about firm-wide risks, such as operating models of taxation or cyber-risk? For some these risks aren’t on the radar, for others they are seen as core.

For small firms doing a small number of small deals, the idiosyncratic risk of individual private company investment does indeed seem easy to diversify away. But most private equity activity is undertaken in an increasingly competitive and institutional context. The old-school view of a private equity risk function, remote from the business of making investments, a compliance burden to comfort regulators or a tick in the box for demanding LPs, always seemed complacent. When you live in a world that seems permanently on the verge of a financial crisis, with extreme monetary policy the norm and hacking of the private sector a standard machinery of state, it seems reckless.

Meanwhile, for many LPs and for a long time, private equity risk management has not been worth the bother. But private equity is now the largest alternative exposure for pension funds after real estate. For how much longer can PE risk be swept aside as an oddity that just doesn’t fit our models.

With everyone focused on value-add in the front –office, I can’t help but wonder if the long-term winners over the coming decades will be decided far from the cut and thrust of deals.

The panelists were: Laurent Braun, Head of Operations Risk Management, European Investment Fund; Andrew Freeman, Chief Risk Officer, Ardian; Philippe Jost, Senior Vice President, Capital Dynamics; Alan Picone, MD, Global Head of Risk & Management Company Solutions, Duff & Phelps, John Renkema, Senior Portfolio Manager Private Equity, APG. 

Great idea. Can you keep it up?

This is the real test of great content marketing. Providing free insightful information to...

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Dr Sarah Harding joins Linear B

We are delighted to welcome Dr Sarah Harding to the Linear B team. Sarah is a leading life...

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Analysing the 'Defensive Economy'

I recently attended an excellent lecture by Dr Florian Artinger, a behavioural scientist from...

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