Content marketing for professional services – Q&A with Julie Cutler, KPMG

We interviewed Julie Cutler, Head of Marketing at KPMG about getting organisational buy-in, the changing face of marketing, and content marketing for the professional services sector.

About Julie Cutler

Julie Cutler is the Head of Marketing at KPMG Australia and has worked at KPMG for the past 15 years. Previously she was marketing manager at NAB. She has helped KPMG marketing mature in line with their business maturity and has spearheaded change within the organisation. She is a strong believer in aligning marketing directly to sales objectives and using great content to push through the clutter of today’s online publishing marketplace.

Q. How can marketers get buy-in from the C-suite?

A. Marketers have a constant need to educate executives at every opportunity on the role of marketing and demonstrate the tangible and material impact of marketing activities. It’s about demonstrating that marketing is a profession and that there’s a discipline and methodology behind it. If we show the methodology and frameworks we use, we help the leadership better distil its own priorities and business strategies.

Q. Has the face of marketing changed in the digital age?

A. On one level, I’m not sure that it has fundamentally changed. Strong strategic marketers can embrace digital and social content very easily. It’s just new channels and a new mix that they have to deal with.

In the broader sense, it has meant a change in the specialist skill set that’s required. There are certain roles that are highly specialised, particularly in the digital space, and increasingly in the content space. As marketers, we’ve got a lot to learn and leverage from media companies in terms of their process and methodology for the generation of consistent high-quality content. The beauty of digital is the ability to get real time metrics that help us test and refine to optimise our marketing campaigns.

Q. How can a business stand out as a thought leader, and how can they leverage their content to do that?

A. Professional services as a sector has always been heavily reliant on content and positioning their executives as thought leaders. Today the environment we’re operating in is much more cluttered, the channels are more varied and there are a lot of content providers competing for attention. We see content that we traditionally would have been the generators of coming out of non-traditional competitors.

The audience has higher expectations these days than they’ve ever had before. Through rich content, we can build trust and demonstrate our expertise around a business problem or opportunity that our clients are facing.

Q. How do you create engaging content with a consistent brand perspective?

A. By always being relevant, insightful and consistent. While it can be tricky to abide by these rules, it’s important to be ruthless about the quality of your content and to not contribute to the noise.

Make sure that you’re found: The right information in the right place at the right time.
Have a focused agenda: Be focused on where you want to be seen as an expert and be true to it.
Be creative: Particularly in our business, where some of the concepts can be quite dry, we are experimenting with a range of different styles to cut through.
Don’t fall into vanity publishing: Think of the audience first and foremost every step of the way.

Q. What’s your advice to marketers who feel red tape is preventing them from marketing buy-in from large businesses?

A. It’s important for marketers to earn their stripes. Take every opportunity to demonstrate that you understand the business and that you’re there to support the team. Demonstrating that knowledge buys credibility and creates opportunities. A lot of it is about intellectual curiosity and keeping up to date, irrespective of your industry. You want to be seen as a constant source of new, fresh ideas and approaches.

The other part is to use facts and logic to present marketing ideas to executives. If you present executives with options and break down the costs and resources needed to deliver them, they can make better informed decisions and be fully aware of the trade-offs. Being transparent on the real investment required, taking the time to explain how an initiative can deliver business outcomes and keeping executives informed of implementation progress and results achieved will work wonders.


Q. Why is it important to engage members of the business when creating marketing plans?

A. It’s critical for my company because in professional services we are not selling products – we are a service-based business. People who lead the business also manage the client relationships and, more often than not, are involved in the delivery of the service, so it’s very important that they are part of the marketing program development. It needs to be collaborative in terms of working alongside them to align marketing activities directly to their business plan and priorities.

There are a couple of critical success factors, and you can tell that some will be more successful than others. If you don’t have business buy-in and support, don’t do it. It won’t be successful even if it’s the most important marketing initiative from a marketer’s perspective. If you don’t have that businesses support, it’s not going to work.

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