In B2B Marketing: Tomorrow’s Best Practices Today, we feature expert interviews about the state of B2B Marketing and what the future holds. In this post, I interview Amanda Milligan, Marketing Director at Fractl.

Tell us about yourself?

I’m a native Floridian living in D.C. who’s genuinely obsessed with content marketing. I fell into this industry because I got degrees in journalism and English and decided I didn’t want to be a reporter.

I do still write fiction occasionally (with the all-so-common goal of writing a book someday), but I’m also a rampant extrovert who gets all of my energy from being around others. I love broadway musicals, neighborhood festivals, dystopian novels, Harry Potter (proud Slytherin over here), and board games. I tolerate running.

Note: Follow Amanda on Twitter: @millanda.

Here’s a fun fact about Amanda:

Tell us about your background in B2B marketing?

Six years of my career have been at agencies, so I’ve mostly worked on a blend of both B2B and B2C marketing, as our clients have always had a wide range of goals and worked in a variety of verticals. This has certainly kept things interesting, as I’ve been able to constantly encounter new challenges regarding what kind of content will be engaging and valuable to each audience.

Since April, I’ve been Fractl’s Marketing Director, so for the first time I have a full B2B role. My job is increasing our qualified leads by better telling our story so people understand who we are and how we can help them.

Note: Read a related post by Amanda, “What is Link Building and How Does It Establish Brand Authority?”

What’s a best practice that B2B marketers should move on from?

Assuming whitepapers are often the way to go.

We’re in a very crowded era of content, and we have to carefully examine every single thing we produce to see what medium would most effectively reach our audiences and get the point across.

Whitepapers and webinars can be great, but don’t default to them. Is there a series of social posts you can create? A long-form blog post? A video series? An interactive tool?

Tell us a best practice of tomorrow that B2B marketers should be doing today?

Building your authority in the most efficient way. Let me explain what I mean by that.

If the SERPs are extremely crowded, for example, for any of your target keywords, maybe you can try another way to get the word out to your audience. Perhaps producing reports and studies that are newsworthy within your niche can break through the noise and get your brand mentioned in relevant publications.

Maybe you can create or participate in an online industry community (like on Facebook or Quora) and answer people’s questions. Or maybe there’s a podcast you can create that no one else has created before.

The tactic won’t be the same for everyone, but the thinking process is: Where is your audience, and where are they not being communicated with about your topic yet?

You recently attended MarketingProfs’ B2B Forum. What’s your top takeaway?

I really loved Keith Reynold Jennings’ breakdown of the difference between “story” and “narrative.”

I think we’ve all heard a million times the importance of storytelling, but what does that actually mean? Hearing that advice over and over again makes it sound like any story will do — just tell it and you’ll be successful.

Keith explained that stories need to be part of an overarching and ongoing narrative, which is a framework that makes exceptional sense. Your brand narrative needs to include what you’re trying to achieve, why you’re trying to achieve it, and how the customer factors in.

Your audience always needs to see how they fit into your narrative so they feel invested and along for the ride. Then, telling stories should support this overall “thesis.”

A keen observation by Amanda:

You worked at the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Tell us about that?

This was my first professional position! It was a summer internship at the Sheriff’s Office that my father, a police officer, worked for.

I helped out both the External Affairs department and the Media Relations department, so it was my first exposure to what communications in action really looked like.

The experience certainly informed what I do today, because the wonderful people there taught me how to write in a way that was not only compelling and caught people’s attention but communicated the pertinent information as clearly and quickly as possible — skills that have certainly been crucial to the rest of my career.

Tell us about your recent transition from Account Strategist at Fractl to Marketing Director? Also, congrats!

I’ve worked with Fractl for 5 years now, and I went from being a writer to being a creative strategist (which is basically a more creatively involved project manager who oversees all content creation) to being an account strategist, in which I worked with a set of clients and developed our content plans for them.

I can’t explain how much I learned during this progression from doing the actual work to then strategizing how we can best serve our clients. When Fractl decided it was time to get our name out there more (we’d traditionally relied on word of mouth marketing), they knew it made sense to hire someone for the role who’d done the work and could speak to its benefits.

I’m very familiar with the services Fractl offers, and now this role gives me the chance to explore other marketing tactics, like podcasting and email, for example.

Check out a customer case study from Fractl:

You enjoy karaoke. Do you see any connection between karaoke and marketing?

Absolutely, at least in my case. Some people get up on stage and sing whatever they want, and I very much respect that. Singing should fulfill you in some way. But when I get on stage, I choose a song based on what I think I sing best and what the audience will appreciate most.

I want the performance to resonate with them and energize them, and then I can feed off that energy and continue putting on a better show! (For the record, my favorite karaoke song to sing is “Somebody to Love” by Queen — aside from just being an incredible song, it even has a part the audience can sing and participate in!)

Editor’s note: At the welcome party for Content Marketing World 2019, Amanda performed AC/DC at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I was lucky enough to have a front row seat:

If you compare that to marketing, whenever we’re providing something to an audience, we have to think about what we’re best at creating that will also provide value to them. If there’s a tactic we want to try that we’re not particularly good at yet, we just have to practice it.

But that combination of something we’re amazing at creating and a story we know how to tell that’s valuable to the audience we’re speaking to creates the best marketing experiences.

Note: Speaking of Content Marketing World 2019, Amanda wrote a fabulous post about her six key takeaways from the conference.

A visit to D.C. Tell us three spots that can’t be missed?

The amazing thing about D.C. is just how many things there are to do, no matter what your interests. The National Mall is a given, but the secret is to go at night. The monuments are lit up, and it’s very beautiful.

Secondly, you have to go to a Smithsonian museum while you’re here, but there are more than just the major ones, like Air & Space and Natural History. Find the one that speaks to you the most. Personally, I like the Hirshorn, which is a modern art museum.

Finally, if you’re here on a weekend, check out Eastern Market, which is an outdoor market full of art, jewelry, food, and more. Also, check out a rooftop bar, a beer garden, or a boozy brunch!

Twitter chat

If you’re reading this in time, Amanda is the guest on an upcoming #CMWorld Twitter chat: