Did you know that it was Bill Gates who first said, "Content is king," way back in 1996, almost 30 years ago? Despite the clickbait-y headlines proclaiming that "Content Marketing is Dead," content is no less relevant than it was 27 years ago (anyone else feeling old??).

But with the average person receiving 121 business emails per day and the use of generative AI exploding this year, it is crucial that the content you produce, be that a social media post, a blog, or a whitepaper, is worth the reader’s time. So, what do you need to do to cut through the tsunami of words produced every day? And yes – I do realise that it is ironic that I am producing more words to tell you how to cut through all the words!!

What is good content, and why do we need it?

Kristal wrote a great article that expands on the role of ungated content and how potential buyers use it to learn more before making a purchase decision. I highly recommend that you give it a read here.

Most of our clients come to us not because they want fireworks and Superbowl campaigns but because they want the basics done well

Having been around the block a few times, we find that while content production is prolific, the content is frequently, well, a bit rubbish. Most of our clients come to us not because they want fireworks and Superbowl campaigns but because they want the basics done well.

What that looks like is:

In a fast-paced and competitive industry like the tech space, you need to show prospective customers that you are helpful, knowledgeable, up-to-date, and understand their business. You might have the most knowledgeable sales team in the world, but they won’t get a meeting unless the prospect thinks it will be worth their time.

A word on finding reliable sources of information

We all know that you can’t believe everything you read online. As Jack Appleby said, Googling symptoms only tells you which diseases have the best SEO.

One of the advantages of working with a strategic marketing partner like One Little Seed, month in, month out, is that we are embedded in the tech industry in a way that a tactical marketing agency may not be. So, when the Australian Government released their 2023 – 2030 Cyber Security Action Plan at the end of November 2023, we knew it was coming and were watching out for the release. Not only that, but we do the hard yards of reading the entire 64-page document and slotting relevant updates into our clients’ content calendars.

Differentiation between clients

Given our specific technology-focused client base, someone asked the other day how we approach reports such as these to ensure that we share relevant information with our client’s customer base without duplication. To be honest – it isn’t something we think about much because we do it regularly and intuitively. But it is a fair question, so I thought I would give you all a sneak peek behind the curtain.

1. We consider our client’s specific focus and offering

Let’s take cybersecurity as an example. Cybersecurity is a strategic imperative for any tech company (indeed any company at all!), but every company has a different UVP, target market and area of focus. So, each of us considers what information is most relevant to each specific client and focuses on that area.

2. We collaborate

We might work remotely, but we talk a lot! When there is a piece of content that we know will be relevant to multiple clients, these conversations are crucial to ensure that we’re creating unique and relevant information for each account.

3. We always bring it back to the brand

Every client has a unique look and feel, from tone of voice to branding of the social media tile or choice of blog image. Some clients' brand voices are very factual and authoritative, while others are more lighthearted and playful. As a marketeer, your goal is to ensure that everything the brand puts out is recognisable and feels like them.

unless there is a clear value proposition to the reader or viewer, a message they can take away that will help them or brighten up their day somehow, it isn't worth publishing.

4. We always consider what value the reader will be able to take from the piece of content

We know you are busy, and the internet is full of content and people competing for your time. So, unless there is a clear value proposition to the reader or viewer, a message they can take away that will help them or brighten up their day somehow, it isn't worth publishing. But coming back to the 64-page report we were referring to earlier – pulling out relevant, digestible and actionable information that your customer can apply to their business (even though they don't have time to read 64 pages about it) is incredibly helpful.

We might be working in B2B marketing, but we are still writing content for people. Busy people who might have 133 unread emails and 67 open tabs (1000% me, at all times), but people looking for information that answers their questions, helps make a decision or understand a concept. Luckily, we are on hand to help, one word at a time.

I know every marketing agency says they are different. I don’t really think One Little Seed is an agency in its truest form. But this could also be my perception. To me, an agency is where you go for a campaign, a fixed body of work tied to deliverables within a time frame. This is where I think we are different. We’re in it for the long haul. I say to prospective clients, we sit on your org chart like an employee would.  

With the advent of fractional CMOs this brings about a different conversation. We’re not one of those either. A Fractional CMO usually is brought in for a particular period of time, with their success tied to short term objectives such as building a Go-to-market (GTM) model or defining a particular strategy. They work with you at a specific time and place. Generally, they don’t do any execution.  

When I started One Little Seed five years ago, I adopted the term Marketing Manager as a Service very early on. This is still the truest representation of who we are.  

So, how do you get the best out of your relationship with One Little Seed? I’m going to be honest here (and it won’t win me any new business). You need to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Yes, we’ll be able to knock over some quick wins most of the time. However, if there was a magic tap to turn on quality leads, I wouldn’t be writing this blog piece or doing 2024 marketing plans for clients.  

We’ve built them a sustainable model that delivers continuously. 

We have customers who started with essentially nothing, and by nothing I mean either no website, or a website that hasn’t had any fresh content since it was built two years ago. After 12months of investment and commitment, they are now humming along nicely with new business continually rolling in. We’ve revamped their website, built out their brand identity, devised a content strategy, talked to vendors and accessed MDF, sponsored events and helped build a business development strategy. We’ve built them a sustainable model that delivers continuously. 

With all this work, there’s always the things that you don’t see. The planning. The meeting with vendor marketing managers to build the relationship at the partner levels and educating them on your GTM so we can access that funding. And honestly, as inappropriate as it sounds, the time we spend thinking about your business when we are in the shower, or out on the walks, or in some extreme cases, when we’re lying in bed at 2am. Put simply – the people I hire, myself included, give a shit about your business.  

However, like any employee you would hire, we can’t be successful without the right stakeholders willing to give us their time.  

Be clear on your expectations because every month is not the same in this model. Generally, we only ask for a couple of hours commitment for a WIP meeting once a fortnight, it’s important that you prioritise these two hours each month. It enables everyone to be on the same page, and ensures that things don’t get lost in email swaps.  

Use the tools available to ensure you’re aware of the details. Across the board we use Teams, Trello, Asana, Jira and Monday to fit in with our clients. This gives you a single state view of everything that’s in flight and what the priorities are.  

Involve us like an employee, yes there’s a balance of hours vs deliverables here, but if you’d have told an employee about an upcoming change, you need to tell us. Ask yourself, if this was my employee, what would my expectations be?  

Be realistic, this is also a hard balance. Generally in our model you’ll get on average 6 hours a week. That’s the equivalent of one day. We know we’re more efficient than most people, but as a benchmark, a good quality blog piece takes 4-6hours (length dependant) from ideation, through to research, actually writing it and then proofreading.  

Lean into trust. If collectively we’ve put everything above into place, you should know that we’re about delivering the best outcomes for your business. You’ve hired us for our expertise and specialisation in this industry we love so much. We know that we’ll continually work hard to deliver for you and your business. Because quite simply if we don’t, we won’t keep the contract. We’re just as invested as any employee to make this a success.  

This model has the potential to disrupt the market, and it’s hard to define where we sit. I don’t want One Little Seed to be known as a traditional marketing agency, I want us to be recognised as a technology vendor. We’re providing a specialised service to the technology industry. You provide a specialised service, whether that’s cyber security as a service, managed services, backup as a service. We simply provide marketing manager as a service. We’re your part-time one stop shop marketing employee, who creates strategy but then goes and makes it happen.  

If I had a dollar every time someone asked me whether I was using ChatGPT to write blog posts and marketing content now, I would be mortgage-free and wearing a new pair of kicks (but probably still working, cause hey, I love it). The answer is a resounding no. We are not anti-AI, per se, but it, like many other technologies, is a tool and will not put copywriters out of a job. 

I should note that while I am referencing ChatGPT throughout this article, the same limitations apply to other generative AI platforms like Google Bard AI, Microsoft Bing, ChatSonic, or similar services you have come across.  

The reasons that AI-written content isn’t the answer for OLS are extensive, but they include; 

  1. Inconsistencies – around this time last year, Gabe Marzano (inspired by an MIT Technology Review) asked ChatGPT what it knew about her. The answers were worryingly inaccurate, claiming that she was a he, that he (she) had co-founded OpenAi (incorrect) and that he (she) was the CEO of Synthestra Technologies (incorrect). When asked where this information was sourced from, the answer was “various articles and interviews featuring Gabe Marzano, as well as his official LinkedIn.” 

    These inaccuracies likely relate to ChatGPT’s propensity to predict plausible text or information based on the user’s text. It uses statistical patterns in its training data and the context that the user has provided, but as seen in the example above, this is a long way from foolproof. 
  1. Plagiarism – last month, the New York Times announced that they were considering suing the Chat GPT developer, OpenAI, over the use of copyrighted content to train ChatGPT’s system. This announcement comes in the wake of a change to their terms of service to stop AI companies from using NYT content for training in the future. 
  1. Americanised speech patterns and diversity issues – just like global content doesn’t work in every market without a level of localisation, Chat GPT has specific default settings that dictate what it views as “standard” and what it views as non-normative. While yes, you can input specific instructions to generate different languages, such as Australian English, there are some problematic consequences of having one dominant norm being perpetuated at scale. For more on this topic, this article on The Conversation is definitely worth a read. 
  1. The need to build an authentic brand voice - There is a reason that tools can be deployed to identify AI-generated text vs. human text – it just isn’t sophisticated yet that it can replace human storytelling and experience. I say yet because artificial intelligence is learning and improving exponentially, and who knows what the future holds? But for us to nurture and grow your brand, we need to create content that is interesting, informative and even entertaining. And that sounds like your brand, not generically generated text. 
  1. In-depth industry knowledge - As industry experts in the IT channel and technology sector, we understand the nuances, politics and broader contexts surrounding the APAC market at a level that AI does not. 

ChatGPT isn’t the first time that AI has impacted marketing. We use AI frequently in different contexts. Want a quick grammar and spelling check? Grammarly is super handy. Using Google Analytics? It is AI-powered. Plus, let’s not forget the plethora of email marketing automation tools. 

But what role does generative AI (the kind that writes content) play in the future of marketing? Here are some of the advantageous areas. 

Just like Googling a topic can spark thoughts in different directions, so can ChatGPT.

Brainstorming and ideas 

One of the core pillars of marketing is creativity. With around 334 million businesses globally, how can you ensure that you are speaking to the right people at the right time in a relevant and memorable way? There are thousands of books and theories about cultivating creativity. In my experience, much of it comes down to time, collaboration, risk and experimentation (you can read more about my take on controversial and provocative advertising in the B2B space here). 

But working in a fast-paced industry, you don’t always have as much time and opportunity for collaboration as you might like. And we all get the odd mental block where we’re not feeling creative. At times such as these, it can be super helpful to bounce ideas around. Sometimes, I jump on Teams and speak to one of the other Little Seeds, but other times it is handy to have a tool to generate different ideas. Just like Googling a topic can spark thoughts in different directions, so can ChatGPT. While the ideas it throws out are unlikely to be the ideas that end up being used (see points 4 and 5 in particular), it can be used to break down that mental block and help you consider alternative directions. 

Data-driven analytics 

There is huge potential to integrate AI further to leverage data for better decision-making. It is already being used to try to personalise marketing outreach based on each customer’s behaviour. However, this approach relies on high-quality, accurate and integrated data with any bias removed. And unfortunately, a lot of companies struggle to ensure they have a clean, up-to-date, single source of truth, so this is the first port of call before investing in fancy new AI technology. 

So, while AI technology certainly has its place in B2B marketing strategies of the future, be wary of assuming that it can write your content and make smarter decisions for you. We are a long way from Terminator or Matrix-esque super intelligence and will be tapping out our blog posts the old-fashioned way – one word at a time. 

Gartner's recent Buyers Journey study increased the buying group size up to six to ten people (up from four to nine in late 2022). And we counted 12 online touchpoints for the buyers group. 6sense talks about the 'dark funnel' and that 78% of your in-market accounts are not in your CRM. This is why content is important: the people in that buying group are generally not visible to you. As marketers, we have plenty of data that tells us what job titles we should be targeting, and with intent data tools, we can go and work out who might be in that buying group within specific organisations. Sure, you can hit them with paid media (that's a topic for another day), and give their phone number to a BDR to cold call. But how do you bring them into your funnel when everyone understands the value of their email address? It starts with (ungated) content.  

78% of your in-market accounts are not in your CRM

So, what should those 12 touchpoints look like? What type of content should you be creating? Is all content created equal? The answer to many of those questions is the brand vs. demand generation argument. Your first challenge is to get buyers to know who you are, this is brand awareness. It doesn't matter how fabulous your content and your content strategy is, if people don't know who you are, they won't read or consume it. So, some might say that's the most important piece (pretty sure the sales guy would argue that point).   

Where to start for building brand?  

Often, our clients have a website to tick the box when we start working with. And we regularly talk about making them look as professional on the outside as they are on the inside. And to be honest, that was the approach One Little Seed took in the first couple of years. Your website is a potential client's first impression of your business. Take a step back and ask yourself, would I engage with this company based on their website? With millennials and Gen Z now entering the decision-making process, this is now more important than ever. They're more reliant on online research than any of the buyers in the decision-making process.   

Take a step back and ask yourself, would I engage with this company based on their website? 

When it comes to your website, don't get caught up on your internal language and product names. Think about what your potential customers want to know or the problem they are trying to solve. Selling a cyber security solution? How does it help businesses reduce their risk? Does it improve compliance? Can it reduce the complexity of staff resourcing through automation? Make it easy for prospective clients to find what they need, don't hide it layers deep or behind a form fill.   

Thought leadership content. It is about you adding value. Giving something for nothing. Showing prospective customers that you know their industry and pain points. What is the business issue that's keeping your prospective CIO/CISO awake at night? What trends are you seeing from your customers in the same space? It's not about product, it's not about why your widget is better than someone else's widget. It's about starting to build trust and brand awareness.  

Good old social media content. This is how you amplify, continuing to add value, and consistency is the key here. The beauty of social media content is that you can promote one blog post multiple times by calling out key messages and changing the imagery. Content is not a one-hit-wonder. It also allows you to easily extend your reach, as the more people that engage by hitting that like button, the more visible your post becomes.  

One Little Seed Social Post

Content is not a one-hit-wonder.

You can also leverage tools with free pricing levels, such as SocialPilot, Hootsuite, Sprout or a myriad of other social media scheduling solutions, which means you can preload your content for the month, so you don't need to think about it. 

The other consideration is picking up on newsworthy content. You don't always need to be generating original content. Leveraging other great content shows that you are researching and immersed in the industry. 

Have some fun with your social media content. It doesn't always have to be business related. Elevate your people and introduce them to the online world so prospects have a sense of connection when they engage. You'll slowly start to see who the 'voyeurs' in your dark funnel are, as there is less risk of engaging with a fun post than a business-related post. For One Little Seed, our highest engagement posts have been the ones where our team features in photos or we're having fun with our love of Margaritas.  

Finally, why is brand important? It is often the hardest thing to measure for marketers. We're all now measured on direct ROI and revenue attribution. How many MQL's are we delivering to the top of the funnel? Why aren't there as many form fills on our website?  

The answer is as simple as it is complex. I ask you to put yourself in your buyer's shoes. How often do you think I'm not putting my email address in there because I know it means someone will call me? 99% of the time, we're not ready for that call. We just want some information. We all want to remain anonymous in this digitally tracked world until we're ready to engage. 

Brand and thought leadership content allows your early-stage buyers to understand who you are, what your business does, and whether it's the type of business they're going to want to engage with. We know the sales cycle for complex B2B decision-makers is around 6-9 months minimum (in a good year). So, without embracing brand and content, you're missing out on that 72% of buyers who are living in your dark funnel.   

Let's be honest, we're all just voyeurs on some buying journey every day. How do you want your buyers' journey to look like vs the experience you're giving your customer?  There’s an old saying that has merit here. To understand someone, you need to walk a mile in their shoes. Or in this case, in their dark funnel.  

While other marketing departments and agencies around the world may be quaking in their boots right now (as they are usually the first expense to go in times of recession), we know better.  

We believe that business growth and opportunity during times of recession are realities – for the smart and bold. And we can prove it.  

Hold your nerve 

In late 2022, Analytic Partners released its ROI Genome report, which focuses on the dangers of cutting marketing spend in a recession and the opportunities for marketers who maintain or increase advertising. Key report findings include the savvy advice to ‘hold your nerve: don’t cut marketing spend’.  

Here, says Analytic Partners, is why: 

By comparison, marketers who cut their ad spend (when their competitors don’t) risk losing 15% of their revenue during a recession. 

The conclusions from Analytics Partners are far from unique. A 2002 report from McKinsey and Company, which encompassed results from the 1990-91 recession, found those companies who continued to invest in marketing at the time of the downturn came out on top.   

And Global consultancy Bain & Company says that those companies who tried the slash-and-burn approach to getting through a recession came out worse off than those who focussed on cost containment but looked beyond cost to spend and hire before the markets rebounded. 

Think retention and successful selling rates  

You’ve all heard that the cost of acquisition is 5x higher than retention. It’s one of the truisms of marketing that doesn’t seem to change. Or does it? 

In 1990, Harvard Business Review published an article Zero Defections: Quality Comes to Services which set off executives by the thousands to craft retention strategies. Why? They reported that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.  

However, something the 5x truism doesn’t consider is that the cost to acquire a new customer is as variable as any other metric. (Calculate it for yourself: Customer acquisition cost = the cost of sales + the cost of marketing ÷ by new customers acquired.) 

Regardless, (and rather than deep-dive down that potential rabbit hole), what is probably more important to you is the success rate of selling to a customer you already have (60-70%) compared with the success rate of selling to a new customer (at 5-20%).  

So, when times are tough, it’s more profitable to cultivate and market to those carefully retained and loyal customers. Because if you don’t, you can guarantee your competitors are.  

So, when times are tough, it’s more profitable to cultivate and market to those carefully retained and loyal customers. Because if you don’t, you can guarantee your competitors are.  

Where are the opportunities?  

Another truism is that business (or crime) doesn’t stop when times are tight.  

Those responsible for IT don’t stop spending - or planning to spend - just because the purse strings have been tightened. Especially when the service or solution they want is business critical.   

For example, the determination of Clare O’Neil, Minister for Cyber Security, to make Australia the most cyber-secure country in the world by 2030 through increased regulation and legislation is going to drive spending. Without fail. 

And this is remembering that a recession doesn’t slow down the threat actors. They, too, have businesses to run and families and dubious habits to feed. So, you can bet your bottom dollar they will continue to work hard to maintain their obscene ‘profit’ levels.  

CSO Online reports that, statistically, we can continue to expect upward spikes in attack levels during times of recession, staff layoffs, economic downturn and political uncertainty. Sadly, opportunity knocks equally hard on both sides of the fence. 

Our final words? It’s important to stop a looming recession or shrinking economy from being a new business opportunity for your competitors. If you are going to invest in one marketing activity to the exclusion of all others, make it retention.  

About a month ago, I attended a LinkedIn Live to listen to the latest that Jay McBain from Canalys had to say. I started taking notes for my team, and in the end, couldn't scribble fast enough and told them all to take the 29 minutes themselves to listen.

As I've percolated on this session and the insights Jay shared, it only reinforced what we've been telling our clients (and potential clients) for a while.  

Being a 'trusted advisor' isn't a unique selling proposition

Trusted advisor is a phrase our industry loves. Another one is 'single throat to choke'. And I admit, six years ago, I was guilty of totting out the line whilst in vendor land. Who wouldn't want one vendor who could do it all? These days a customer has SEVEN partners that they trust.  

We're seeing the landscape shift towards supporting this market dynamic with partners specialising in specific technologies and even subsets of technology.  

What does this mean for you if you're one of the seven? It means that your value proposition needs to be exceptionally strong. It means that you can be more easily held to account as there's likely another partner plugging into your stack for their service delivery. If you're not delivering, they're going to point it out.  

You also need to be adding more value to your relationships.  

Why a content strategy and well-designed website are key 

Recently we touched on Gartners B2B buying cycle. Canalys takes this even further when they delve into the 28 unique moments prior to vendor selection. Tellingly, 24 of these moments involve the partner. More often than not, our conversations with partners start with addressing their foundations.  

The B2B buying cycle strongly mimics the B2C cycle now in terms of online experience. Are you adding value to your relationships through content? Are you providing information that helps them at the right time?  

Without these foundations firmly in place, there is a multitude of relationships that will not be successful. Our relationship with you as your marketing partner, your potential relationship with a new customer, and the ongoing relationship with your existing customers. 

I'm not going to sugarcoat it. To see an ROI on marketing investment when we build these foundations, it's 9-12 months. Sure, there might be some quick wins and bluebirds. But it's as everyone has heard me say, 'there's not a silver tap, and if there were, I'd be drinking pina coladas in the Bahamas'. 

The customer experience (CX) starts online these days. It's like getting dressed for that crucial meeting in the morning. First impressions count. People will race through your site, looking for that essential information. They'll move on to the next potential partner if they can't find it easily. Think about customer use cases or stories. What business issue does your solution solve? What trends do you see in the market? Tell a story succinctly.  

Quarterly MDF is not always your friend 

Vendors are now looking towards their partners more for demand generation. However, they're expecting short-term results, which, as the digital space becomes saturated (and more expensive), presents a challenge to the partner to show these results.  

Coming back to Canalys' statistic of 28 unique moments, there isn't a quality way to deliver these (and SQL) within three months.  

I'd love to see a vendor take a long-term approach to partner investment rather than looking at who's making the biggest promises every quarter. I've seen one vendor give this a good nudge and commit to a six-month plan with a few partners, and it's delivered 40% growth year on year for that vendor for two years in a row with a partner we've engaged with. 

The requirement for customer touch trackers is the default standard for measurement when it comes to vendor MDF. When you look at the stats around the gating of content – the numbers are stark 

So this begs the question – what's more important, 100% of people can read your content and progress through the funnel? Or capturing 30% of total names?  

This meme made its way into our internal group chat, showing which side of the fence we sit on. 

How about just measuring partner growth year on year as a metric? We've got one client whose dwell time on site is five minutes. That's amazing! But to a vendor, it doesn't tick their box for success.  

Retention is often overlooked.  

Another vendor metric is net new logos. However, it's widely known that the cost to retain is 5 – 25x LESS than acquisition. I get it. Everybody is chasing growth. Meaning your competitors are chasing your clients for their growth. You can build revenue from within your client base through cross-selling and referrals. Word of mouth is still a fantastic tool. If you look after your existing clients well, they'll share your name with their network. This is demonstrated with executive roundtables being an activity that delivers results – hearing where your peers are succeeding and learning from their lessons is invaluable.  

How do you add more value to your existing client base? As experts in our fields, we're always reading content. We're upskilling ourselves. Share that knowledge, whether that's a personal email, to a client you know would be interested in an article. Introduce like-minded leaders to each other, aka someone who has potentially addressed a problem another one is facing. Don't look at this through the lens of what will benefit you. Look at what will be valuable to your client in general terms.  

What's the single message here?  

Give something for nothing. Don't become that person that only calls when they want something.  


When most people (usually Uber drivers) ask what I do, and I answer that I write about technology, they look at me with pity. I suspect they imagine me hunched over a laptop writing endless dry proposals and user manuals, or impenetrable acronym-packed ‘how to’ articles.

Thankfully, writing about technology isn’t like that for me - or the rest of the One Little Seed team.

1. We write for people, not androids

Good writing is an essentially effortless conversation with your reader. One you could imagine having over a coffee or a cold beer. It’s an opportunity to share interesting ideas and stories, to inform and educate, challenge and intrigue, and even entertain. And open the door for a two-way exchange.

You may wonder why, if your target audience is interested in your topic (as in need-to-know-because-it’s-their-job), it’s important to put more effort into ‘humanising’ your content, not less.

This: Just because your audience is interested in technology and its impact on their business doesn’t mean they gravitate towards impenetrable and functional content. Business and technology professionals watch Netflix, laugh at dad jokes, and read trashy airport novels at the beach – just like the rest of us.

And you’re competing for their attention with a lot of other content.

According to First Site Guide’s article on Blogging Statistics 2022, around 7 million blog posts are published per day. Right now, there are approximately 500 million active blogs on the web. So, you can pretty much guarantee that what you’re writing about on any given day is also being tackled by someone else at the same time. This means that for your content to shine, your writing needs to be current, relevant, searchable, valuable, and readable.

When your audience is time-poor and bombarded by content, the more digestible it is, the more likely they are to read it from end to end. I call it the carrot-and-chip-combo approach. A bag of artisan crisps can disappear in no time (especially with a beer), whereas a bag of carrots, worthy though they may be, takes some real effort to get through.

The trick is to make your content highly palatable and nutritious.

2. We stick to plain language

Despite every intention, you can rarely limit your audience to precisely those who are guaranteed to understand it. While you could ‘gate’ every whitepaper and demand name, organisation, job title, and email address in exchange for a download link, even that doesn’t give you surety of target audience readership.

And this is a good thing. We’re after enquiring minds, people keen to expand their knowledge. The wider the readership, the greater the opportunity to attract interest – even if it’s just a straight ‘sharing because I thought this might interest you’ action from CTO to CFO.

What this does mean is that you can’t afford to use so much industry jargon that only the exceptionally technologically literate can understand what you’ve written. A quick sentence clarifying a concept never goes amiss. And there’s no shame in forgetting exactly what an acronym means in an industry which has over 1000 of them in daily use.

3. We use humour and sparkling wit to make our point

Admittedly, we’re fond of puns and wordplay. For those of us who write as a profession and appreciate a neat turn of phrase, it comes with the territory. And again, it signals that we are talking to real people who welcome an unexpected opportunity to smile.

But not only do we enjoy clever writing (where and when appropriate), we do it for a reason. The benefits of writing with humour are well documented and range from improving cut-through and engagement to making your business more relatable and authentic.

The proviso (because there’s always a catch) is that you shouldn’t shoehorn humour into your content for the sake of it. Humour is subjective and can walk a fine line between offensive and obscure, so tread with care.

4. We love what we write about (and we think it shows)

Unsurprisingly, we’re all a bit geeky at One Little Seed.

Every day, we take delight in learning something new. We talk to people who are inspired and inspiring, and truly passionate about sharing what their business has to offer the world.

We interview our clients, their subject matter experts and gurus, and often their clients. We deep dive into their technology offerings and brand, and research everything. Technology is constantly evolving, so we’re often at the coalface of new and fascinating innovations. And we can visualise and, most importantly, articulate how our clients can help other businesses evolve or reinvent themselves.

So, when that Uber driver asks me, ‘what do you do?’ and I tell them, I often suspect they wish the trip were shorter. Or that I found my job less interesting.

Some of the most successful advertising campaigns of all time in the B2C space have pushed the boundaries of what is safe or mainstream. Whether they loved or hated it, there wouldn’t be many people out there who aren’t familiar with Nike’s “Believe in Something” ad. It featured controversial NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who had been hitting the headlines for refusing to stand for the National Anthem to protest racial injustice.

When executed well, it sticks in people’s heads and creates a whole lot of conversation. Think the #LikeAGirl campaign from Always, Gillette’s #TheBestMenCanBe and when KFC turned a chicken shortage into a swing of positive sentiment with their KFC FCK campaign.

Unstoppable #LikeAGirl Campaign

When executed poorly, a controversial approach can seriously damage sales, not to mention your brand. Like using kids to promote S&M-inspired accessories. Or when Bloomingdale used the tagline “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking,” and Dove’s Real Beauty campaign that showed a black woman removing her t-shirt to become a white woman (nope, not even joking – someone signed off that creative).

But what about B2B – do businesses need to play it safe, or can they come in swinging like Miley Cyrus on a proverbial wrecking ball?

Tipping your toe into the provocative waters

In my experience, big B2B enterprises tend to err on the side of caution. Of course, like any rule, there are exceptions, but overall, edgy campaigns are more common in start-up land or SMB, where risk-taking is inbuilt into their DNA, and there is less decision-by-committee.

If your brand voice lends itself to a cheeky take on things and you are keen to experiment, one safe option to explore is within email subject lines. We all get a deluge of emails daily, so an eye-catching subject line can work wonders for your open rates. Some examples;

If you get a good response, you might start looking at a more provocative campaign tagline. My son’s school has a policy that I feel applies here. Ask yourself, will this hurt me? Will it hurt others? Will it hurt nature?

The general idea is to stop and sense-check the idea to make sure you aren’t putting down another company’s business, being sexist, racist, agist, or generally offensive in a way that is likely to hurt your business. This step is also where knowing your customers is vital.

Bold B2B campaign examples

A couple of examples come to mind where B2B companies have pulled it off with aplomb. However, I could think of far fewer in the B2B space than in the B2C space (and I would love to hear more that come to mind for you). 

Salesforce's End of Software Campaign

Salesforce – The End of Software campaign

Salesforce, as a company, was established around the belief that enterprise software is no longer relevant, with Software as a Service taking over as the best option for businesses. So when they launched in Feb 2000, they drew a lot of attention with their "The End of Software” campaign. It was designed to catch people’s eye in a competitive market and draw them in to discover more. They went all out, too, staging a mock protest and gaining loads of publicity.

Of course, one isolated campaign wouldn’t win them market share, but it got them noticed. Plus, it aligned with their brand voice; honest, fun, friendly, plainspoken and light-hearted.

A screenshot of Hey's website homepage

Hey – Email sucked for years. Not anymore – we fixed it

The second campaign that comes to mind takes a similar approach – Hey made a bold statement about fixing email. It worked so well because they positioned themselves apart in a crowded market, and rather than attacking their competitors, they spoke directly to consumer frustrations around email privacy and tracking. Their product genuinely IS different from the others, and they took a bold approach to shout it to the rooftops.

As always, all your communication should align with your brand. So, if your brand is conservative, safe and subdued, a provocative tagline might not be for you. Even here at One Little Seed, our HR person vetoed us publishing a job ad highlighting our “no dickheads policy.” But if your brand voice allows it, a little provocative edge can go a long way when well-executed. Just steer clear of combining kids with chains and collars.

Here in Australia, the impact of climate change has been felt more severely than ever before. You only need to say 'iceberg lettuce' and people's eyebrows raise in unspoken agreement.

ESG is now commonly bandied about as driving business priorities. But what does ESG mean?

According to Deloitte, 98% of consumers believe that brands have a responsibility to make the world better'.

McKinsey defines it as:

The E in ESG, environmental criteria, includes the energy your company takes in and the waste it discharges, the resources it needs, and the consequences for living beings as a result. Not least, E encompasses carbon emissions and climate change. Every company uses energy and resources; every company affects, and is affected by, the environment.

S, social criteria, addresses the relationships your company has and the reputation it fosters with people and institutions in the communities where you do business. S includes labour relations and diversity and inclusion. Every company operates within a broader, diverse society.

G, governance, is the internal system of practices, controls, and procedures your company adopts in order to govern itself, make effective decisions, comply with the law, and meet the needs of external stakeholders. Every company, which is itself a legal creation, requires governance.

ESG in actual fact stems a lot further than just sustainability. However, given that it's not my (or our) area of expertise, I'm not going to delve into the governance side of ESG.

From the same WSJ report referenced in part one, 63% of customers are driving increased business sustainability investment. For many years we saw businesses such as Evian, Gatorade, Mt Franklin pay for the right for their water bottles to be front and centre at tennis grand slams. With the French government banning the distribution of free plastic bottles, Perrier (the drinks sponsor for the French Open) had to provide players with reusable, transparent containers. No longer were there the fridges full of water bottles courtside. It also meant that players could bring their own unbranded drink bottles on court. This changes the brand presence and the value given to consumers through these types of sponsorships.

when 44% of Millennials are the primary decision-makers in today's buying economy, they can't be ignored

According to Deloitte, 98% of consumers believe that brands have a responsibility to make the world better'. They state that the CIO has three areas of opportunity when it comes to being a leader in the sustainability agenda:

The use of data and analytics to make decisions relating to sustainability is at the forefront of the CXO agenda. Back to the WSJ report, 73% of CXOs believe it's possible to use new technology competitively whilst minimising the organisation's carbon footprint. This shows that sustainability is really starting to gain traction within the decision-makers' priorities, matching the ask from the customer.

It's also important to consider the fact that the loudest advocates for the environment and sustainability are the 'younger' generation. Greta Thunberg is probably the most visible globally, but when 44% of Millennials are the primary decision-makers in today's buying economy, they can't be ignored.

Who's already doing sustainable stuff?

Within our industry, VMware's vision is that by 2030 all VMware clouds will be Zero Carbon through 100% renewable energy-powered data centres. They provide their partners with a free 6-month trial of Clean Energy Buyers Association.

NEXTDC is 100% carbon neutral, and across their datacentres, they've invested heavily in solar. They're certified under the Australian Government Climate Active Program. In 2021 they also launched NEXTneutral which allows their customers to offset the carbon emissions for all their equipment and environs located in their data centres.

HPE identified opportunities to procure sustainable materials and components, reducing material waste in their supply chain. HPE examined more than 3 million assets in its supply chain and was able to remarket or reuse 90% of them.

How do you integrate ESG into your marketing message?

You can start small. We've done this a couple of times this year with our customers, offering delegates at events the opportunity to plant a tree instead of collecting a piece of merchandise.

Think about your corporate gifting policy in general, and who you use for disbursement. The sea of bubble wrap and plastic courier bags are small but visible touch points that can be recyclable. Personally, the compostable courier bags are now saved and used in our countertop compost bin.

As for social responsibility, this comes from within. From within the leadership, from within your employees, and your clients. One Little Seed has a no dickheads policy (HR keeps telling me I can't say this in public), and we encourage discussion when we think people are getting close to that line. I've built this business to support my trusted employees to do their job as they see fit, and when it suits them as long as our clients are supported in the way they need to be. Sustainability is also about the human heart and the mental tank. They need to stay just as balanced as the business balance sheet.

You can look to partner with a local organisation that resonates with your business brand, or simply your employee's situation. One Little Seed has donated to causes that support MS because of personal connections within our business to people with the disease. I'm still trying to figure out where else we can contribute, and like most things in a start-up business, I'm not afraid to admit that it's a work in progress.

You only need to scroll LinkedIn to see other organisations doing great things with ocean clean-up days and participating in sustainable activities. This week alone, I've seen Slalom employees plant 600+ trees to support the koala ecosystem, and The Missing Link grow mullets for Mental Health.

There is the ISO4001 sustainability certification for those who want to go to the wall.

So in summary, sustainability, whether it's environmental or societal needs to be an important factor in your business mix. To use a phrase you might have seen around here before. Start little, think big.


  • Global Software Trends and Buyer Behavior Insights 2022
  • McKinsey - Five ways that ESG creates value
  • WSJ 2022 CXO Tech Agenda
  • Deloitte: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/cio-insider-business-insights/esg-sustainability-in-technology-strategy.html
  • Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2021/08/17/b2b-marketing-what-we-can-do-to-help-save-the-planet/?sh=7587096548ba

The CISO & Cyber

According to the WSJ 2022 CXO Tech Agenda, Cybersecurity has increased to 57% from 28% in 2021 as a trigger for organisational transformation. What's more interesting is the reasons why cybersecurity is a priority:

Gartner reported that in 2022, spending on managed services & consulting will grow 7.9% globally to $1.3 trillion.

Reputational risk is a huge consideration for many activities. As we came out of the first wave of COVID (not knowing what was coming), there were many conversations with our clients about the risk of being that super spreader event as we considered a return to in-person events. Across my years in cyber, there's been the discussion that you never want to be 'that' company in the headlines because of a breach.

According to Extrahop's 2022 Cyber Confidence Survey in Asia Pacific, 83% of organisations in the region have had a ransomware breach in the last five years. When we tie that back to reputational risk, 20% of organisations won't tell anyone they have been breached. This is despite government reporting regulations. Don't ask, don't tell doesn't work here. Because inevitably, someone will tell, and the repercussions are much more significant than transparency in the first place. There is still a stigma attached to being impacted by a breach. However, 83% of businesses state that they've been impacted by ransomware, which means you're in the minority if you haven't been hit.

This report also states that 64% of respondents say that threat of legal action and fines promotes action by senior management in security decisions.

What we've started to see through our work across the industry is that the CISO is gaining larger influence at the boardroom table, whilst at the same time their remit is getting larger. Cyber resilience is a term that's being bandied about and is the new term de jour alongside XDR. This means that under the banner of cyber resilience, backup and disaster recovery are moving into the CISO remit.

Australia's first Cyber Security Minister, Clare O'Neil standing in parliament
Australia has also recently appointed the first minister for Cyber Security in Clare O'Neil, showing the changing face of business and government priorities.

What does this mean in terms of marketing?

From our perspective, we've always been about business issues. What challenges are you trying to solve for your customer? It's no longer about just the breach. It's also about the wider business implications and that they're influencing the decision-making process.

Start to add value to your prospect conversations by raising the issue of business continuity & crisis management. Who is responsible for what within the relationship? What can you as a trusted advisor bring to the table to assist in this? What are the timelines for identification of the source and impact of the breach? What are the RPO / RTO benchmarks?

Gartner also reported that the buying group size for 62% of businesses is 4-9 people.

Gartner reported that in 2022, spending on managed services & consulting will grow 7.9% globally to $1.3 trillion. 'Through 2025, organisations will increase their reliance on external consultants, as the greater urgency and accelerated pace of change widen the gap between organisations' digital business ambitions and their internal resources and capabilities'.

Vendors never like to hear it, but the customer doesn't always care what label is on the technology and infrastructure. They're putting their trust in you, your recommendations and validations of the solution you're offering them. Ultimately, they're buying your service.

Often our best conversations come from the simple question of 'how can we make your life easier?'

Gartner also reported that the buying group size for 62% of businesses is 4-9 people. And that 15% of the buying cycle went into reconciling disparate information and building a consensus. So it's more important now than ever to build a brand across your prospects' organisation.

In this case, when you're engaging with the C-Suite, the conversation goes further than stopping or identifying the breach. It's about providing the right information in a timely manner, enabling them to communicate better internally and externally. It's about understanding how far their remit does extend because it's different for every organisation and constantly changing.

Put simply, look wider and deeper within your target organisations because you're targeting a buying group within the business, not an individual. It may seem simple, but too often, we see organisations focusing on one specific job title.


  • Global Software Trends and Buyer Behavior Insights 2022
  • Extrahop 2022 Cyber Confidence Survey in Asia Pacific
  • WSJ 2022 CXO Tech Agenda

Disclaimer: We do work for Extrahop in ANZ, so that's why we've got easy access to their report.