When talking to SCHERMER’S Senior Content Strategist, Dave Swanson, you find yourself leaning forward to better hear his carefully chosen words. Not just because he’s soft-spoken, but because he’s a bottomless well of knowledge on just about everything.
“Dave is a closet MacGyver,” laughs Chris Schermer. “He is the guy who can figure out anything. Seriously, I go to Dave before Google when I need to really understand an industry, a business or a technology.”
For the past 30 years, clients and peers who’ve worked with Dave consistently call him out as one of B2B marketing’s finest writers and content strategists. Awards prove it too: In 2015 alone, his work helped SCHERMER win multiple BMA B2 awards and become a MarketingProfs Bright Bulb finalist for Brand of the Year, recognizing our innovative work for Honeywell, General Mills Foodservice, 3M and H.B. Fuller.
From the biggest brands to the most complex products, Dave has always found a way to distinctively define and differentiate each, matching vision to voice, architecting messaging, and crafting content that creates human-to-human connections with buyers.
Few have learned more, written more, and very likely, sold more through copywriting than Dave. So, to mark his 10-year anniversary at SCHERMER, we turned the tables and asked Dave to share his 30 years of expertise and perspective on B2B marketing.
HOW DO YOU VIEW YOUR ROLE AS CONTENT STRATEGIST AT SCHERMER?
“I think of myself as the content intermediary between our clients and their customers. You need to draw out what’s interesting and unique about the products that the buyers will be interested in. It’s almost like being a buyer advocate in front of the client, and a client advocate in front of the buyer.
B2B, it’s much more complicated messaging. Just about every purchase is a studied purchase. No one goes out and buys a $250,000 system on impulse. So you have to present a really well-informed case to prospective buyers and do a lot of homework to figure out what the most compelling message will be.”
WHAT’S KEPT YOU AT THE AGENCY FOR A DECADE?
“You can do this profession two ways: You can float down the stream and go from one place to the next. Or you can be a rock in the stream and in the middle of all the experiences that flow around you. I’ve done both in my career, but I’ve stayed at SCHERMER because we keep evolving. When I started, we were pretty much a traditional agency, but now we’ve evolved into a highly strategic, very digital buyer experience shop; we’re more sophisticated and even more specialized. It’s been amazing to see that happen and be a part of it.”
WHAT TRENDS ARE CHANGING THE WAY B2B MARKETERS MARKET?
“Social media. It’s opened up so many more channels that are completely buyer-driven. A lot of marketers have trouble understanding that, and push against the realization that they’re not in complete control of their brand experience anymore.
For decades the people who sold and made products were in charge of the medium and now it’s the other way around, customers are in charge. They ask, they filter, they subscribe, they review – mostly without a brand’s help or control. We try to get companies to shift their thinking, and their marketing, to accommodate buyers who are in control of their own buying journey.”
HOW DOES THE BUYER BEING IN CONTROL CHANGE YOUR APPROACH?
“The shift is more about strategy than actual writing. It’s, ‘how does the client get in the conversation? How do they make themselves relevant to a buyer is doing online research and trying to figure out what to do next.’
Without new approaches like blending UX and content marketing, companies are going to be relegated to the end of the buying process and not present in the beginning. That’s why we work with our clients to create both compelling and contextual content. Compelling because you are competing all these voices on the Internet saying, “Yeah, they say that, but …” Contextual content because you want to intersect the buyer in their process at the most opportune and beneficial time. Videos, interactive demos, customer stories, calculators, technical white papers – all the stuff that’s useful to buyers early on – are effective. Just at different times and in different doses. That’s what we figure out.
Basically, we work with clients to shift their mindset marketing from pushing products on buyers to helping buyers make their best decision. It makes me feel like we’re helping people instead of just trying to sell something to them.”
Congratulations and thanks to Dave for ten years of helping SCHERMER and our clients do B2B better.