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Shutterstock marketing chief: ‘Content has to grip your audience’

Skip Wilson is Vice President Brand Marketing at image and video giants Shutterstock, and he joined us for a quick chat as part of our Marketing Maestro interview series in partnership with Press Gazette.

What’s been your proudest achievement in your current role?

Shutterstock is entering an exciting new chapter, which means that we’re a team in transition. We have a lot to offer across content, editorial, studios, design tools and strategic solutions, but our challenge is letting people know about it. While transitions and change can be hard, for those of us who are brand builders, we anchor ourselves on knowing that wins are on the horizon.

As I’ve been in my role with Shutterstock for eight months, I’m proud of the exciting industry leadership and product development work we’re executing against AI. We are at the forefront of both creative and tech innovation, so seeing how we’ve captured an impressive share of voice in a really important conversation is rewarding.

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Which media channels do you see as most important and best value when it comes to marketing spend and activity?

The audience you serve dictates a lot of where you play as a marketer. Many aim to be culturally relevant but not all brands need to be culturally relevant to be successful. Our goal in marketing is to meet our target customers where THEY are with relevant messages. And maybe that’s a Super Bowl ad or maybe that’s direct mail and digital signage. For me, the most important channel is defined by your customer base.

Describe your ideal customer acquisition funnel

Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Intent, Evaluation, and Conversion are standard pieces of the acquisition funnel. However, a specific call out for community and loyalty could be included in this model. Successful brands are built on loyalty. And more and more, I’m seeing community building as a means to maintain and grow loyalty. So as I think about our longer-term strategy, I also think about how someone engages with us after that first conversion. Why would they come back? Why WOULDN’T they come back? Where else are they going? Then we build the plan to keep them coming back, and that’s not always driven by the next purchase.

What is your advice for mastering social media?

Brands need to know what they want a social media program to accomplish for their business. And they need to determine what they want each channel to do. In my experience, you get a tonne of opinions about social media activity, but little focus. Start by defining if your program is about referral traffic, awareness or community building. Then you build out a channel strategy. What needs to be understood is that TikTok isn’t for everyone, and neither is Instagram. Content relevancy and frequency by channel is critical to success.

In your opinion, what is the main difference between B2C and B2B marketing

This one’s pretty easy, as the answer is in the question. The difference is the customer type. When you’re selling B2C, you’re addressing an individual need. And when you’re selling B2B, you’re providing a solution to a business. And so the questions you solve are inherently different. How does my product/service help you vs how does my product/service help you get more customers? B2B requires an additional level of understanding of not only how the business will use your solution, but also how that solution will enhance outcomes for the end user. Effective B2B programs inherently end up being B2B2C more often than not.

What is the key to producing engaging marketing content and what types of content works best for you?

I recognise engaging content that is unique, has a personality, and is more conversational than not. There are so many ways to turn a phrase or present a story, yet time and time again we see the same dry, dusty headlines, templates, and colour pallets. For instance, how many brands led with this comms message during the pandemic: ‘In these difficult, trying, troubling times’? Blah, blah, blah. The cliché was over before it started. And I am probably guilty of this at some point.

But my point is that marketing content needs to connect with the audience. It has to grip them. And many of us are afraid to try something new or be a little different.

The content that works best for me is content that can take highly complex technical speak and translate and simplify through visual, audio, and scripted storytelling to help a customer understand what we’re talking about. It’s not always the big words that earn you credibility. It’s how you synthesise information.

How important is technology in modern marketing?

Technology and marketing are deeply intertwined – the data and insights that marketing tools provide are vital to understanding consumer behaviours and values. With more insights at our disposal than ever before, marketers should be constantly using this data to inform their brand design, messaging and purpose, and ensure a consistent tone of voice that really resonates with their audience. In the long run, those willing to embrace and experiment with new, emerging technologies will gain an edge in this rapidly changing digital landscape.  

For example, with the recent launch of our generative AI platform, our hope to revolutionise and optimise the creative process. Rather than investing time and resources into photoshoots and designers – particularly with increasing scrutiny on ROI amid challenging economic conditions – marketers at all levels and all budgets will be able to quickly and easily bring their briefs to life. Additionally, our Creative Flow suite uses data-driven insights to find the most clickable, trending assets, helping marketers locate the content predicted to perform best for their needs. Democratising content creation will open up access to high level marketing capabilities and instil confidence in all who embrace it.