Uncovering the Challenges and Opportunities in a Marketers’ Content Strategy
B2B Data 08.24.2023

Uncovering the Challenges and Opportunities in a Marketers’ Content Strategy

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In this episode of Sunny Side Up, host Ryan Schimmel engages in an enlightening conversation with Zari Venhaus, Vice President of Corporate Marketing Communications at Eaton. Zari, a seasoned professional in product marketing, brand management, and audience-focused marketing, delves into the intricate landscape of a marketer’s content strategy. The discussion centers around the crucial aspects of understanding target audiences, setting clear objectives, and integrating generative AI into marketing efforts. Zari underscores the significance of balancing creativity and process, noting that a strategic foundation is essential for successful execution. The dialogue delves into leveraging AI tools for enhanced efficiency, while Zari also acknowledges the need for cautious optimism as AI’s legal implications are navigated. 

About the Guest

As Vice President of Corporate Marketing Communications at Eaton, Zari is responsible for driving enterprise brand positioning, content strategy, and marketing operations, and supporting Eaton’s digital transformation. Over the last 20 years, she has built her career with roles in product marketing communications, brand management, and audience-focused marketing. Her focus is on building dynamic, customer-focused marketing teams that deliver business results.

Connect with Zari Venhaus

Key Takeaways

  • Zari emphasizes the importance of audience understanding for effective content strategies.
  • Marketers need to target specific audiences, avoiding the mistake of targeting too many.
  • Effective content strategy requires understanding business, buyer decisions, and audience funnel placement.
  • Successful content strategy involves knowing customers, their needs, and content usage timing.
  • Zari recommends close collaboration with sales teams for valuable customer insights.
  • Message mapping and cross-functional teams help build customer-focused value propositions.
  • Team development involves setting clear competencies, tools, and training paths.
  • Turning ideas into actions requires clear objectives, testing, and scalable processes.
  • Generative AI can enhance content creation and ideation, yet cautious implementation is advised due to legal uncertainties.
  • Embrace standardized processes and AI tools for efficiency, freeing time for strategic work.


At the heart of any content strategy is the audience.” – Zari Venhaus

“The best way to drive a successful content strategy is to take as much information as you can about your customers and understand why they would be using the content you’re creating and when.” -– Zari Venhaus

Highlights from the Episode

What are some of the common reasons that lead marketers to struggle with understanding and then developing an effective content strategy?

Marketers often find it challenging to create an effective content strategy due to various reasons. One common issue is the lack of access to accurate and relevant data that would enable them to target the right audiences with precision. Additionally, marketers may fall into the trap of targeting too many audiences, diluting the impact of their content. This can stem from a lack of clarity about the most valuable segments or a fear of missing out on potential opportunities. Moreover, the allure of immediate tactical execution can overshadow the critical strategic thinking required to build a successful content strategy. Jumping into tactics without a clear understanding of the business, buyer decision-making processes, and the appropriate target audience and funnel stages can lead to ineffective content creation and distribution.

How do you actually think marketers can better bridge the gap between understanding customers, understanding the commercial realities of the business, and developing a robust content strategy?

To bridge the gap between understanding customers, business realities, and content strategy, marketers need to prioritize getting as close to the customer as possible. This involves establishing strong connections with the sales team and engaging in ongoing conversations with customers. By actively interacting with customers, marketers can gain insights into their needs, challenges, and decision-making processes. These interactions can be direct conversations or indirect methods like surveys and data analysis. By understanding customer behavior and motivations, marketers can develop a content strategy that aligns with customer journeys and addresses their pain points. This approach ensures that the content created resonates with the audience and contributes to achieving business objectives.

Can you provide insight into both the appropriateness of involving marketers in sales calls and the challenge of balancing this involvement with broader business priorities?

Zari mentioned that the decision to involve marketers in sales calls depends on the specific business context. While they don’t extensively participate in sales calls at Eaton, Zari acknowledged that in some cases, having marketers on calls could be highly beneficial. However, maintaining a balance is crucial because marketers need to address both customer needs and business goals. Zari suggested that understanding customers can be achieved without marketers participating in every sales call. Instead, they use processes like message mapping, involving cross-functional teams of marketers, salespeople, and even operations personnel to develop customer-focused messages. This approach allows them to gather insights about customer challenges and craft value propositions that differentiate their company, while also fostering connections between the marketing and sales teams.

Let’s talk about building teams. What strategies and approaches should marketers be using to nurture and develop their own teams responsible for building brands?

Nurturing and developing marketing teams to effectively build brands requires a multifaceted approach. Setting clear expectations is crucial, defining the competencies and skills necessary for each role within the team. This provides team members with a clear roadmap for their growth and development. To support this, marketers should also offer tools, training, and resources that empower team members to acquire the required skills. Beyond this, marketers should encourage team members to take proactive ownership of their careers, seeking out learning opportunities and taking initiative to develop their skills. Building a culture of continuous improvement and learning ensures that marketing teams remain agile and adaptable in a rapidly evolving landscape. This involves creating a balance between understanding customer needs and aligning them with business goals to drive effective brand-building efforts.

How do leaders address the challenges of turning good ideas into actionable outcomes that actually build and execute on the right initiatives?

Leadership’s role in turning good ideas into actionable outcomes is rooted in the clarity of objectives. A well-defined objective serves as a guiding principle to evaluate the viability of ideas. Leaders should assess whether the proposed ideas align with the overarching goals of the organization. To transform ideas into action, a systematic process is key. This involves breaking down ideas into manageable components, assigning responsibilities, and creating a timeline for execution. By involving cross-functional teams, leaders can tap into diverse expertise to address different aspects of implementation. This process also includes rigorous testing and piloting to validate the feasibility and potential impact of initiatives. Implementing continuous improvement practices and measuring results help in refining and scaling successful initiatives for maximum impact.

What are your thoughts on the potential for generative AI to either complement what marketers do or potentially replace certain marketing roles? How do you envision these affecting marketers in general?

Generative AI presents both opportunities and challenges for marketers. While it’s not about AI itself, it’s about how AI tools are used. Zari acknowledges the potential of generative AI to complement marketers’ efforts. For instance, AI can assist in creating content in the right tone and style, or in efficiently producing multiple variations of creative assets. However, Zari also points out the legal and copyright complexities associated with AI-generated content. This highlights the need for marketers to be cautious in their use of such tools, particularly in contexts involving intellectual property and originality. She advises marketers to focus on use cases that align with their organization’s goals and values. While AI might automate certain tasks, it’s the strategic thinking, understanding of customer needs, and creativity that remain essential skills for marketers.

Is there a book, blog, newsletter, website, or video that you would recommend to our listeners?




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