Q&A with Stuart Sumner, Editorial Director at Incisive Media

Q&A with Stuart Sumner
Stuart Sumner, Editorial Director at Incisive Media, is an experienced journalist, editor, presenter and broadcaster with expertise across all enterprise technology areas. He has successfully lead and developed editorial teams, set editorial strategy, improved brand integrity and focus, developed audience numbers and engagement, and built communities of C-suite executives.

Without that audience understanding, brands will struggle to produce relevant content. There’s no substitute for knowing your audience.



MEDIA 7: Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself. What inspired you to pursue a career in writing?
STUART SUMNER:
I’ve always been interested in writing. As a child I filled exercise books with stories, later I wrote comedy for TV and radio. After a decade working in IT, I realized I wanted to turn my hobby into my profession – and managed to combine it with my experience of IT by becoming a journalist with Computing.

M7: What is your approach to branding your company, its products and services?
SS:
The key is to approach it from the audience’s perspective. What response are they likely to have to your brand, your message, your personality? What are their pain points, their needs? If you understand all of that you’ve got a good chance of success.


The best way to win the content war is to have better, more valuable, and more timely content than your competitors.You need to offer audiences a regular supply of high-quality, in-depth content which they can’t get elsewhere.



M7: How do you ensure that your content team understands the requirements and curates content in an engaging manner?
SS:
Again it comes down to understanding the audience. The best way to develop that understanding is to spend time with them and develop industry contacts. Ensuring the team is regularly interviewing the right people, and attending events (virtual or otherwise) is a good way to do that. As for writing engaging content, that’s harder to develop. Hopefully, if you’ve built your interview process properly you’ll already know something of their writing style, and that ability will come built-in. Otherwise, you’ve got a job on your hands!

M7: What channels do you think are the most relevant for Content Marketing? How do you gauge which ones are the most promising, given your target customers?
SS
: It’s important to understand what your channels are for. I see a lot of brands treating every channel as yet another opportunity to fling sales messaging in front of audiences, most of whom don’t want it. Content marketing works best when it’s entirely native and fits seamlessly with the brand’s other content. That means it needs to be every bit as colourful and interesting as the best editorial, and meet audience needs just as effectively. You can gauge effectiveness by measuring the usual things like engagement, bounce, etc. But there’s no replacement for having a steering committee of senior audience members who you can ask – what do they think of your content marketing and what works best for them.


It’s important to understand what your channels are for. Content marketing works best when it’s entirely native and fits seamlessly with the brand’s other content.



M7: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses worldwide. What has been Incisive Media’s strategy of survival during the tough time?
SS:
Incisive Media moved quickly at the start of the pandemic to move our face-to-face events online. We very rapidly developed a brand new style of a virtual event called ‘Deskflix’, a half-day, multi-sponsor event filled with panels, presentations, networking and even a quiz! The series generated £4.6m of revenue, had over 100 sponsors and served more than 100,000 delegates. We were lucky that we were already very well set up to put on virtual events, given our expertise with webinars, and our dedicated teams of events organizers – not to mention our wealth of excellent editorial presenters.

M7: How do you target content to your audience, and what are the challenges that you face while producing effective content?
SS:
Every brand today faces challenges to secure eyeballs online. Audiences have content thrown at them from every angle, and it can be hard for them to separate the wheat from the chaff. That’s why it’s more important than ever to build and safeguard trust with your audience. Once they start to see your content as trusted and view your site as a safe place away from misinformation and empty marketing, you’ll see improve engagement and lots of returning ‘super users’. You need to offer audiences a regular supply of high-quality, in-depth content which they can’t get elsewhere. Of course, that’s not easy to produce – and thank god for that, because that’s how we differentiate ourselves!

M7: What are your views on content shock? Is it a worrisome trend or a content marketing myth?
SS:
It’s a long-standing trend that will continue, and it’s what I’ve been talking about already in this interview. The way to win the content war is to have better, more valuable, and more timely content than your competitors. How do you do that? Proximity to your audience. If you really know them, including their sub-groups, niches and quirks, then you should understand what they want, how and when.

Computing is very lucky to have an experienced team who’ve worked with the technology sector for many years. We have long-standing ties to hundreds of senior technology leaders, and we speak to them all regularly. We believe we understand our audience better than anybody, and that gives us huge confidence, even in the face of rampant competition and ‘content shock’. Without that audience understanding, brands will struggle to produce relevant content. There’s no substitute for knowing your audience.

ABOUT INCISIVE MEDIA

Incisive Media is an award-winning business to business digital media and events business. It inspires, connects and informs through its market-leading brands. It is the APO digital publisher of the year 2010, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2020.

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Gaps are occurring in four core capabilities: lead scoring, account-based marketing, accelerated pipeline, and intention-based marketing. This report tiers factors that make up a model for better identification, engagement and conversion. The model coincides with the CMO Council and WM America’s thought leadership initiative to advance lead revenue science practices through a certified Lead Evaluation and Assurance Process, or LEAP model. “Marketers will need to take a few LEAPs of faith in the coming months, because sticking to the status quo is just not practical or possible anymore. As data becomes more critical than ever before, CMOs need to extend their visions for innovation and forward-thinking strategies,” according to Lee Salem, WM America’s Vice President of Sales. Methodology The report is based on a survey of over 170 heads of B2B marketing, sales, revenue, growth, demand gen and campaign execution in Q4 2023. 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A recent Forrester survey found that more than 60% of B2B buyers base their final purchase decision solely on the digital content and experiences companies provide. That’s why thousands of B2B companies choose ON24 (NYSE: ONTF), a leading digital engagement platform for B2B sales and marketing that helps enterprises generate data-driven insights and deliver cost-effective revenue growth. Today, ON24, announced the industry-leading digital experiences of 2023 that drove ROI for their organizations. “At ON24, our goal is to propel business success through digital engagement, with our customers at the core. We take pride in helping our customers drive deeper engagement with their target audiences and extract meaningful insights that result in revenue growth,” said Callan Young, CMO, ON24. “It is our honor to recognize the leading organizations that exemplify excellence in leveraging our platform to create digital experiences that not only meet but surpass their audience’s expectations.” The following organizations were recognized for delivering outstanding digital experiences on the ON24 platform in 2023: Danfossdrove product growth and customer retention by leveraging distributor, reseller and customer data to optimize its webinar and digital engagement program. FloQastinfluenced 82% of event pipeline in Q3 and created 120+ new active opportunities by routing high-quality leads from in-experience demo requests directly to sales. Global X ETFsincreased qualified, high-value leads in Australia by 22%, by integrating ON24 engagement data with their CRM and using the platform’s personalization capabilities. Informaticascaled a live event into a hybrid experience across three key regions simultaneously, driving registration and delivering a consistent customer experience on a global scale. Infopro Digitalincreased conversion rates and registrations by automating processes on the ON24 platform and making real-time adjustments based on customer feedback. Kasperskydrove product adoption and business growth by creating new relationships with prospects and fostering existing relationships with customers. KnowBe4generated over $300k in pipeline through an ON24-powered digital experience. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)achieved 100% participant satisfaction for its unique and impactful digital experience powered by the ON24 platform. PowerSchoolachieved record-breaking registration rates, 75 CTA clicks, over 400 poll responses and 300+ content downloads during an educational experience with ON24. S&P Globaldoubled marketing qualified leads and boosted engagement by designing an ON24 digital experience personalized to different customer segments. Tata Consultancy Servicesdrove revenue growth with record-high registrations for their webinar on ON24, resulting in 70% attendee participation across 30 countries. Texthelpsourced leads during a webinar series and converted at least 70% of them into marketing-qualified leads within 30 days. TOPdeskincreased revenue and improved its customer engagement by 7% YoY and extended the shelf life of its content with an on-demand hub. TravelMediaGroupclosed three deals from a single digital experience by creating a seamless and engaging customer experience on ON24. UCBachieved a 50%+ attendee conversion rate by enhancing the HCP’s experience and integrating ON24 engagement data with its business intelligence system. UnitedHealthcareachieved an 80% cost savings, increased attendee score and engagement with a new digital engagement strategy and an always-on content hub. Wood PLCsourced leads, increased audience engagement and automated continuing professional education credits on ON24, across different time zones. ZoomInfosurpassed webinar benchmarks by generating a record number of marketing-qualified leads and 190 scheduled demos, resulting in 10 closed-won deals. To learn more about 2023’s leaders in digital engagement, watch the on-demand webinar here. About ON24 ON24 is on a mission to re-imagine how companies engage, understand and build relationships with their audience in a digital world. Through our leading sales and marketing platform for digital engagement integrated with generative AI, businesses use our portfolio of webinar, virtual event and content experiences to drive engagement and generate first-party data, delivering ​revenue growth across the enterprise – from demand generation to customer success to partner enablement. ON24 powers digital engagement for industry-leading customers worldwide, including 3 of the 5 largest global technology companies, 3 of the 6 largest US banks, 3 of the 5 largest global healthcare companies, and 3 of the 5 largest global industrial manufacturers, enabling organizations to reach millions of professionals a month for billions of engagement minutes per year with all the first-party data being captured, generated and integrated from one place. ON24 is headquartered in San Francisco with global offices in North America, EMEA, and APAC. For more information, visit www.ON24.com.

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