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Helen Coetzee: Why it’s great to be in B2B media right now

Tech and data excite Helen Coetzee, founder and CEO of London-based consultancy MPG. As does good content. At the recent Mx3 Barcelona event, Helen spoke to Adri Kotze about niche media, relevance and the opportunities in B2B media.

It is the most exciting time to be in media, Helen Coetzee stresses, suggesting that rumours of a publishing apocalypse are greatly exaggerated.

Granted, Helen says, she focuses on business-to-business (B2B) media and events. Business-to-consumer media owners are struggling and many will continue to struggle as their formats are hard to sustain, she acknowledges, but says B2B media businesses are shielded from some of these troubles.

Helen, who spoke to Mx3 at our recent Innovation in Media event in Barcelona, is founder and CEO of London-based marketing consultancy and agency MPG, which serves specialised B2B media and events businesses. She has been described as a “super smart marketer” and authors the blog MPG Insights.

“There’s a lot that AI can take away from B2C business owners that just wouldn’t happen in the same way in the B2B world. B2B brands are so trusted and essential to so many people in their professional roles that they have to be mindful where your information comes from. And you have to make very good decisions about what you’re going to trust, what you’re going to believe, and what you’re going to act on,” Helen says.

First-party data

For her, it’s all about the importance of niche media and relevance.

“How relevant is the content? How relevant is the data? The peer group? The meeting online? If you get niche media right and you get your content right, you will have people’s attention.”

Referring to the demise of the third-party cookie and the question of first-party data, Helen points out that data protection laws governing B2C media are more prohibitive, for example, regarding what data they are allowed to hold.

“In B2B, the legislation is different, and the purpose of holding that first-party data is different. The sensitivities are different. So, the first-party data models these B2B brands are building are much more important and viable and should really form the bedrock of their businesses.”

Social media platforms

Social media platforms’ fractious relationship with news organisations has not affected B2B to the same extent, Helen argues, because of how unique and relevant the content is and how the platforms serve the content based on interests.

“It’s easier for B2B companies to reach their audiences through those platforms. They’re also not doing it at the same scale. So, when you’re more targeted, more niche, more relevant and more specific in your content and your audience, the platforms do a better job of serving that up to the right people. And people who see the content are more likely to engage because they have a strong motivation to do so.”

LinkedIn, the platform of choice for B2B media, is a very different platform to Facebook or Twitter and has a “very clear purpose in the business world”, Helen says, whereas much of the social media content in the consumer world is “unessential”  and pure entertainment, aimed at relieving boredom.

Where is the buzz?

“What makes me excited is that tech and data is will become more and more important. It has always been fairly important, but now it’s going to be absolutely critical to a business’ success.

“First-party data needs good tech, it needs good data. It’s exciting how companies invest strategically in their tech stacks, in their data, in how their data is managed and set up.”

If companies invest well and get it right, Helen says, they can scale and serve their customers better, monetise better and improve their profit margins because their costs should be under control.  

The potential has not yet been realised around tech and data, she explains. Referring to companies’ tech stacks, Helen says the concern is not that they do not have the right tools.

“If they are implemented well and managed well, they will do the job they need to do.

“The issue is with how they are implemented and integrated, and then how they’re maintained and managed on a day-to-day basis.”

A typical problem, according to Helen, is that companies buy and implement good tech but, “then the follow-through is missing. It’s always in the follow-through that we see most of the pain in terms of making that tech pay for itself, turning it into something that enables growth.”

Good content

Any media business worth its salt will know that content is its priority. But then it has to be of high quality.

Good content is relevant, valuable, and delivered in a way that is easy for people to use when they need it, Helen explains.

“It’s the format. It’s a simple mechanism delivery. Content and product go together, they need to be integrated.”

If you get all of those things right, Helen says, you will deliver something valuable for your customers.

Watch highlights of our interview with Helen here: