Creating an emotional connection through content
Every B2B brand would love to say that what they do is helping to change the world. For RS Components, this fact is a central part of their content marketing strategy. We spoke to Adam Pridmore, Brand Campaign Manager and Darryl Fernandez, Video Marketing Manager, about how they are sharing customer stories on their hub, ‘for the inspired’.
Q. Can you tell me about ‘For the inspired’?
Adam Pridmore: For the inspired is our content hub, featuring inspiring stories from customers using our products. For example, Ambionics, the story of a father building a prosthetic arm to help his infant son. These aren’t traditional customer case studies — these are people who are pushing the boundaries of what can be done in engineering. And we get to play a part in helping them to do that.
Opening the hub has given us a platform to talk to our customers about our customers, while elevating our brand in both a functional and more aspirational way. We want to inspire the engineers of today and tomorrow, so we took this content marketing approach to showcase the amazing things that our customers are doing either with our products or support.
Q. How did you come up with the idea of ‘for the inspired’?
Darryl Fernandez: For many years, we’ve been known as a distributor of industrial and electronics products. But we were looking for a way to reinvigorate the way that we were seen in‐market. So, we asked ourselves, what would our audience like to see?
It’s spoken about a lot nowadays, but I think the gap between B2C and B2B marketing is getting smaller. It’s a cliché, but it really is about that person to person, human to human interaction. Our buyers are often purchasing products or seeking our support due to a business need, but they are still human at the end of the day and they are going to have a level of emotion that drives them towards purchasing from a particular supplier or distributor.
So, we decided that we wanted to change the way that we talked to our customers moving forwards. We spent a lot of time looking at our competitors and found that they were all saying similar things as us, so we were just part of the noise. That’s when we decided to do something a bit more emotive.
That’s where ‘for the inspired’ came from. We wanted to communicate that even though we’re a large brand, we stand for something: that we will be here to support you in your quest, no matter how big or small. If you are inspired to do something, we will be here for you.
Q. Does ‘for the inspired’ play a part in the long‐term strategy of RS Components?
Adam Pridmore: When we launched ‘for the inspired’ it was, at its heart, a brand awareness campaign. It was immediately successful but quite narrow, so we took the decision to build out the offering.
We started with a video series called, ‘Portrait of an Inventor’ which followed a series of inventors and entrepreneurs on their journey, and since then, we’ve launched 3 additional series; ‘Engineers of Tomorrow’, ‘Partners of RS’ and ‘Customer Voices’.
‘Engineers of Tomorrow’ specifically focuses on education – whether that be primary, secondary or university students. We’ve spent time with some amazing young engineers who are truly going to change the world. For example, Team HypED from Edinburgh University who compete in the annual Space X challenge and are working towards transforming the way in which we all travel in the future.
‘Partners of RS’ is dedicated to stories of our brands and suppliers, who partner with is to get their products out to our customers. We look to understand more about who they are, what they offer and why they work with RS as a brand.
‘Customer Voices’ is designed to tell the stories of our more traditional customer base – like Drusillas Park who use us to support with their maintenance needs. Maintaining a Zoo and keeping the public safe is a big job so we wanted to understand what their day‐to‐day needs were and how we, as a business, can help them.
So looking at our content strategy as a whole, we have aspirational content like ‘Portrait of an Inventor’ and ‘Engineers of Tomorrow’, all the way through to more functional content like ‘Partners of RS’ and ‘Customer Voices’ which help to bring through who we are, what we do and how we can assist on a daily basis.
Q. You mentioned that you wanted to take a stand on something as a brand, is this values‐based approach important in B2B marketing nowadays?
Adam Pridmore: I think we have a responsibility to ensure that we are protecting the engineering sector and helping it continually move forward. As a brand, we’ve had to innovate time and time again to make sure we stay relevant to customers — you don’t get to 80 years old without reinventing yourself a few times over.
Q. How does ‘for the inspired’ sit within the wider marketing strategy?
Adam Pridmore: We operate a full funnel approach and therefore need different ways to talk to our customers dependent on what stage of the buying journey they are at; whether that is awareness, consideration or at the point of purchase or repurchase.
‘For the inspired’ is an incredible way for us to do some upper funnel marketing — it reached a phenomenal amount of people across the UK and Germany in a short period of time and we generated a huge amount of engagements on the videos and across our social channels. But we need to ensure that we have other ways to talk to our customers at different levels of the funnel.
So, that is where the other more functional content series, such as Customer Voices, come into the mix. We want to ensure that once people are aware of who we are, what we do and why we exist, that we can then show our customers what value we can add to their business on a day‐to‐day basis.
Q. What advice do you have for other B2B brands who might want to do a similar, creative initiative like ‘for the inspired’?
Adam Pridmore: My advice is to be authentic, be aspirational and remember that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do — if you are providing a service, a solution or a product to anyone, then you have a story to tell.
Think of how you would describe your brand to someone that doesn’t know who you are. I feel an immense amount of pride being able to talk about RS Components and what we are helping our customers achieve. And that’s what ‘for the inspired’ is all about — it’s a celebration of our customers through storytelling.
Q. So, great storytelling is the secret to success?
Darryl Fernandez: I think that people are, naturally, drawn to great storytellers. It’s part of being human — we are inherently curious. If, as a brand, you can tap into that natural curiosity and be able to tell stories that people love, you’re onto something special.
I think all content marketing is storytelling. It’s about taking your customers on a journey — no matter what part of the funnel they are in. There is a lot of content out there nowadays, but emotion is a stronger proposition than anything else out there, if you can get it right.