Jamie Oliver, and lessons for B2B

It turns out that Jamie Oliver is not just a success in the kitchen; his content-marketing efforts – especially on Youtube – have also been earning him some praise. Only recently an interview published in the Drum saw Jamie admit that he’s “burning £4m a year on YouTube” through his two experiments, FoodTube and DrinksTube.

He may ‘not have got there yet’, but to Forbes contributor Kavi Guppta, Oliver is owning content marketing.

Guppta’s argument is formed of straightforward praise for the celebrity chef: Oliver is not trying to sell his own products, he’s willing to invest in his content, uses opinion formers smartly and re-uses the many hours of content in his TV archive.

That Oliver is a success at content marketing shouldn’t come as a great surprise. He was savvy enough to set himself up as the Naked Chef more than 15 years ago, and spotted an opportunity in the market that essentially combined Delia Smith with the fluidity and haphazardness of Youth TV.

Yet seeing Oliver succeed in the business-to-consumer (B2C) market is a reminder of how difficult content-marekting can be in business-to-business (B2B). Here are three problems all too familiar to those in the industry:

1. Too many chefs
Depending on the industry in question, signing off content can be an arduous and painful experience. Instead of entrusting content creation and publication with one department, many companies view content as something that must be a collaboration. Legal departments, compliance, the board of directors, PR, CEO etc. are often invited into the content creation process, both delaying content, and invariably altering it for the worse.

2. Not taken seriously enough
Paradoxically, given this collaborative approach, many companies do not place enough importance on the role of marketing. How many CMOs go on to become CEO? Outside of marketing itself, probably not many. In such a climate, it’s perhaps no wonder that content creation is seen as unimportant compared with some other business functions. Content marketing certainly isn’t embraced with the same passion that Jamie Oliver has.

3. Senior staff don’t appreciate content marketing
Guppta’s point about Jamie Oliver avoiding the temptation to plug his own products is one that B2B companies should embrace. The problem with self-promotion is that as a content provider you lose your audience’s trust; they probably wouldn’t have agreed to listen to you in the first place if they knew they’d be subjected to an advert. Yet in B2B the attitude that companies should promote themselves (and never show appreciation of the competition) pervades from the top, and ultimately devalues the content companies create. The point of content marketing is not to make a sale – that’s why there is a sales department – but to impart useful knowledge.

Just ask Jamie.

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