Unexpected Companies Produce Some of the Best CEOs

Executive Summary

It is tempting to assume that the largest academy companies like GE and McKinsey have an edge when it comes to developing talent. As part of ghSMART’s CEO Genome research, we discovered that some surprising companies produce remarkable numbers of CEOs. Moreover, the CEOs these companies produce tend to perform well, thanks in part to the leadership development practices the companies embrace. We estimate there are over a dozen “stealth CEO factories” across a range of industries and geographies; these include Medtronic, Rohm and Haas, and Danaher. This study shows they do this by giving leaders broad authority; encouraging them to think like CEOs; and challenging strong performers early with big opportunities.

MirageC/Getty Images

About 10% of S&P 500 companies change CEOs annually. Behind these appointments are often years of intricate preparation grooming successors. We regularly get approached by CEOs and boards who find it challenging to groom the right candidates and look for effective approaches to develop the next CEO.

Venerable behemoths like GE, IBM, P&G, and McKinsey have historically been viewed as CEO factories; indeed, 20.5% of all CEOs appointed at the S&P 1500 firms from 1992 to 2010 came from 36 CEO factories such as these, with GE being the largest. The sheer brand power of these companies often helped their executives rise to the top of search lists. But today GE is run by an outsider, IBM’s performance has been mixed, and P&G had a painful “do-over” on their CEO succession. Now we must look beyond the brand names to uncover repeatable practices that boards, CEOs, and HR teams can use to strengthen their leadership pipelines.

It is tempting to assume that the largest academy companies have an edge when it comes to developing talent. As part of ghSMART’s CEO Genome research, we discovered that some surprising companies produce remarkable numbers of CEOs. Moreover, the CEOs these companies produce tend to perform well, thanks in part to the leadership development practices the companies embrace. We estimate there are over a dozen “stealth CEO factories” across a range of industries and geographies; these include Medtronic, Rohm and Haas, and Danaher Corporation. We’ll explore the latter two in greater detail.

Until Danaher alum Larry Culp took charge at GE, Danaher was virtually unknown to the general public despite its stellar performance in scientific innovation. Rohm and Haas (which merged with Dow Chemical in 2009) was highly respected within the chemicals industry but far from a household name. And yet both companies produced scores of successful CEOs. More important, companies led by CEOs who came out of Rohm and Haas or Danaher performed 67% better than those same companies did when other CEOs were in charge. (Our research partners at the University of Chicago, N Vera Chau and Professor Steve Kaplan, compared stock returns for companies while they were led by 35 CEOs who came out of Rohm and Haas or Danaher and compared those returns to stock market returns of the same companies during time periods when they were led by CEOs who were not Rohm and Haas or Danaher alums and adjusted for variations in industry returns.)

Three practices stand out as especially important in the success of these stealth CEO factories — and these are distinctive from the prevailing approaches we see in many large companies today. These practices are instructive for boards, CEOs, and CHROs as they groom successors. The practices also offer helpful guidance for individuals who are looking to grow.

1. Give leaders broad authority. In contrast to the complex matrix management structure prevalent among large corporations today, stealth CEO factories vest their general managers with broad roles and substantial decision authority. As Raj Gupta, former chairman, CEO, and president of Rohm and Haas reflects: “Very early on in their careers, we had GMs responsible for manufacturing, selling, R&D, supply chain and asset management. These were real CEO-like jobs running a full P&L and balance sheet, making big decisions with minimal guidance by corporate.” CEOs coming out of Rohm and Haas and Danaher spent on average nearly half of their careers in P&L leadership roles prior to their first CEO jobs, arming them with valuable experience running a business. Andy Silvernail, who joined IDEX Corporation from Danaher and created over $9 billion shareholder value as CEO, says, “At Danaher, I got my first P&L six months out of business school. It was a highly decentralized environment with a lot of opportunities to really run a business in your early thirties. The buck really stopped with you. You had to make real decisions from an early age.” The broader authority to make decisions is an important factor in grooming future CEOs. Our CEO Genome research showed that highly decisive CEOs were 12 times more likely to succeed.

2. Encourage them to think like CEOs. Stealth CEO factories push their leaders from very early days to think like CEOs — laser focused on metrics and stakeholders directly connected to value creation. Managers at Danaher are trained to prioritize cash, returns on working capital, and strong competitive positions in markets with growth outlook. As a result, CEOs coming out of Danaher are astute at selecting high quality businesses to run and to acquire. For example, Scott Clawson is a serially successful CEO who quadrupled the value of the first company he ran (GSI, a $800 million agricultural equipment business) and delivered more than twice the returns on the second (Culligan, a $500 million water treatment company). Scott told us that he leaned on Danaher training to complete over 35 acquisitions, helping strengthen companies’ competitive position and adding hundreds of millions of shareholder value.

Rohm and Haas ingrains in its leaders a sense of responsibility to five key stakeholders (“five voices” in the company vernacular): customers, employees, investors, community, and process. In most companies this broad view doesn’t factor into daily decision making until the C-suite. “At Rohm and Haas, you were taught very early to evaluate every decision from the perspective of the five voices,” says Pierre Brondeau, a Rohm and Haas alum who is now CEO of FMC Corporation. “That prepares you for the CEO role – thinking about the full set of stakeholders you are accountable to. It’s not about pleasing your boss – it’s about doing the right thing by your stakeholders.” Pierre successfully applied those principles to grow value of FMC five-fold during his tenure as CEO. In our CEO Genome research leaders who effectively engage stakeholders to produce results were two times more likely to succeed as CEOs.

3. Challenge strong performers early with big opportunities. Stealth CEO factories send young managers into uncharted waters with minimal support. “We made bets on people and moved them early on,” says Raj. As one Rohm and Haas executive noted, “Raj was very comfortable looking beyond the obvious candidates for big jobs, often reaching or more levels down.” For example, in the late 90’s Raj bet on relatively inexperienced young manager named Carol Eicher to lead the launch of a $1 billion joint venture in Saudi Arabia, which was the first of its kind for Rohm and Haas. He didn’t hesitate to send Carol to negotiate this important and complex deal, which was larger than any of ROH existing business units at the time, because he believed she had acumen to succeed. Carol successfully launched the JV and went on to become a successful CEO of Innocor delivering fourfold returns for investors.

Our research showed that these types of bold bets (“career catapults”) help accelerate leaders to the top. And CEOs coming out of stealth CEO factories have these types of career experiences more often than a typical CEO. Compared to only a third of all the CEOs we analyzed, virtually all the CEOs who emerged from stealth factories had at least one career catapult, 79% of them had two, and 37% had three or more (compared to only 6% all CEOs in our analysis).

CEO Commitment Is Critical

To benefit from these approaches, the CEO must be committed to development of the leadership pipeline as her top priority. Raj Gupta says his commitment to these practices helped him groom 16 successful CEOs during his tenure at the helm of ROH, including Ilham Kadri, who is now in her second CEO role running Solvay – an $11 billion chemical company headquartered in Brussels. Kadri says, “As a young manager with just a few months at ROH under my belt I was put in charge of closing a major acquisition in Russia in the midst of 2008 financial crisis. Later on, I was appointed first ever female General Manager in the Middle East and Africa, leading the transfer of ROH technologies in UAE and executing large investments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Those opportunities challenged me very early in my career to operate with a lot of unknowns and make decisions on a wide range of issues, which was great training for becoming a CEO.”

These three practices for developing strong leaders don’t require huge scale or large training budgets. They require leadership values and corporate structures that allow for real empowerment and risk taking. Above all, they require the leader at the top to be personally invested and genuinely eager to grow other strong decisive leaders rather than obedient corporate foot soldiers.

Key Qualities of a Vibrant Culture Leader

Guest post by Colin D Ellis:


People who are true leaders stand out. Others want to be around them because they know

they’re worth following. But what qualities do these leaders have that make them exude such strength of character, while other supposed leaders fall short?

According a leadership survey conducted by McKinsey, U.S. companies spend around $14 billion on leadership development. Yet only 7 percent of respondents in the survey felt that their leaders are effective.

That’s the thing about leadership. We can send people to endless programs and get them to follow particular pathways, but unless they make the decision to be a good human being when everyone around them is doing the opposite, they’ll never reach their potential.

Those that do will go on to become role models for others, make courageous decisions, remove roadblocks to get things done and challenge the status quo. In order to do this and to be the catalyst for vibrant workplace cultures, they need to do one thing that most managers don’t — they need to relentlessly develop their emotional intelligence.

Vibrant culture leaders are emotionally intelligent. They are role models in every sense of the word and set the example for others to follow. They take the time to listen, grow and work closely with their staff to remove barriers and inspire incredible performance from those around them.

Emotionally intelligent people like this are a positive driving force for culture evolution within their organizations. They’re empathetic when it’s easier to be dismissive. They make time for new ideas and thinking. They have a tractor beam that others are drawn to and people know that they won’t allow themselves to get dragged to the dark side.

These are the people whose conversations, meetings and training sessions are different. Whose communications are tailored to individuals, who can converse with all levels of people, who celebrate success and who make their employees feel that anything is possible.

Vibrant culture leaders stand for something. They have purpose, influence, ethics, and they continually look to safeguard the future of their organization. They do this by getting to know each member of the team, setting expectations well and holding people to their promises.

When people don’t deliver, they lead with empathy, asking how they can help and ensuring that their employees understand what’s required. Where people still don’t deliver, they conduct performance management with strength and courage. Vibrant cultures hit their targets, which requires that all within the team do their part.

Vibrant culture leaders are a force of positive energy and see the good in everyone with whom they interact. In short, they’re good humans who have others’ respect and loyalty.

These kinds of leaders are critical for organizational performance as they make people feel valued for the work they do — which leads to greater engagement, which leads to enhanced productivity, which leads to greater value for customers, which ultimately improves profitability and reputation. And they recognize that culture is everyone’s responsibility. They make time, find money and undertake activities designed to make a real difference in the way things get done.

When American Express introduced training to make their leaders into more emotionally intelligent people, sales increased by 10 percent. When AT&T introduced a similar training, productivity increased 25 percent. At the heart of every successful business you’ll find vibrant culture leaders.

Here’s how to become a vibrant culture leader
Improving oneself is one of the most life-affirming actions that one can take. It’s a demonstration that lessons can be learned to grow as a person, and that a person is dedicated to making a real difference in other people’s lives. Here are three ways to get started:

1. Become more self-aware. List the things that you (or others) don’t like about your approach, whether it’s the way you communicate, how you run meetings or the time that you try to motivate your team to meet goals. Find one way to change it and then work hard to make the change. It won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile. Once you’ve improved on that behavior, pick another one and so on.

2. Say thank you often. As a self-aware leader you’ll realize that it’s the team that does all the real work, so use your manners and say thank you more often. Find different ways to do it — place easily seen post-it notes, send a hand-written card, call out commendable performance in a team meeting or treat them to lunch. Let it be known to the team that you’re someone that appreciates the efforts that people put in.

3. Make the time to build the culture. Do something different. Take the team off-site for two days. Agree on a vision, establish the expected behaviors required from every team member, define the principles of collaboration, get to know each other and commit to challenging your status quo. This will create individual ownership, energy and motivation.

There’s no hidden art when it comes to being a vibrant culture leader. It’s simply a case of being a good person, being the catalyst for great culture and ensuring the team feels valued for its work. Who doesn’t want that?

* * *

Colin D. Ellis is an award-winning international speaker, best-selling author and renowned

culture change and project management expert who works with organizations around the world to help them transform how they get things done. Based in Australia, Colin is the author of four books, including his most recent, Culture Fix: How to Create a Great Place to Work (Wiley, Nov. 4, 2019). Learn more at www.culturefix.xyz.

Do High DA Backlinks From Blog Comments Help Rankings?

If you have ever left a comment on NeilPatel.com, you’ll notice that there is no URL field.

Why?

Well, a few years ago, blog commenting exploded. I was literally getting thousands of spam comments a day from people just leaving a comment for the purpose of link building instead of providing value to the community.

Sure, there are spam plugins like Akismet, but it doesn’t catch everything.

Now, most blog comments contain the nofollow attribute in which they tell Google not to follow the link or drive any “SEO value” to that URL.

But still, people still leave blog comments for the purpose of link building.

So, over the past 7 months, I’ve been running an interesting experiment to answer the age-old question…

Do backlinks from blog comments actually help rankings?

Experiment rules

First off, for this experiment, we used “domain score,” which is similar to domain authority.

If you want to know your domain score, the backlinks report in Ubersuggest will tell you what it is.

With this experiment, I sent out an email to a part of my list looking for participants and had 794 websites apply.

From there, I set the following criteria:

  1. English-only sites – It’s easier to rank on many of Google’s international search engines even without building links. I removed non-English speaking sites as I didn’t want to skew the results.
  2. Low-authority sites – I removed any website with a domain score greater than 20 and any site with more than 20 backlinks. The reason being is when a site has a lot of authority, they tend to rank easily for new keywords, even if they don’t build any new links.
  3. No subdomains – I didn’t want a WordPress.com site, a Blogspot site, or even a Tumblr site. Again, this would skew the results so I removed them.

After eliminating the sites that didn’t meet the above criteria, I was left with 314 sites.

Of those 314 sites, many dropped off because they didn’t complete the required work on their part (which was to write a blog post), so I was left with 183 sites at the end that participated.

How the experiment worked

Similar to my previous link building experiment and my on-page SEO experiment,  I had these websites write a 1,800 to 2,000-word blog post on whatever subject that was relevant to their site.

The websites had 2 weeks to publish their content and then after 30 days, I looked up their URL in Ubersuggest to see how many keywords each URL ranked for in the top 100 spots, top 50, spots, and top 10 spots.

As I have mentioned in the past, Ubersuggest has a big database of keywords. We are currently tracking 1,459,103,429 keywords.

Now, most of these keywords are barely searched but a decent amount of them get hundreds, if not thousands, of searches per month. A much smaller percentage of keywords generate hundreds of thousands or even millions of searches per month.

In other words, the majority of the keywords people are searching for are long-tail phrases.

We then spent a month building links and then waited another 3 months to see what happened to each site’s rankings.

But here’s the thing: We didn’t build the same type of links to all sites. Instead, we broke the 183 sites into 4 groups (roughly 46 sites per group).

Here were the groups:

  1. Control – we didn’t build any links to these sites, we just wanted to see what happened to their rankings over time with no focus on link building.
  2. Nofollow high domain score blog comment links – with this group, we built 10 links through blog comments. The links pointed to the newly written post and they were from blogs that had a domain score of 50 or higher and they all contained a nofollow attribute.
  3. Dofollow high domain score blog comment links – with this group, we built 5 links through blog comments. The links pointed to the new post and were dofollow from blogs with a domain score of 40 or higher. (I reduced the domain score criteria for this category and the link quantity as we struggled to find a large number of high authority blogs that pass link juice in the comment section.)
  4. Dofollow low domain score blog comment links – with this group, we built 10 links through blog comments. Each link pointed back to the article and it was from a blog that contains a domain score of at least 20 but no higher than 39. (I was able to build more links here as there are many more low domain score blogs than high domain score ones.)

Keep in mind with the link building for groups 2, 3 and 4, there was no specific anchor text agenda. Because the links were built through blog comments, it was too hard to control the anchor text as we didn’t want to be spammy.

And each comment left on the blog contained at least 75 words as we wanted to ensure that each comment provided value and the core purpose wasn’t just link building.

Alright, so let’s dive into the results.

Control group

Do you really need links to rank on Google? Well, the chart below says a lot…

As you can see over time, you will naturally grow your search rankings even if you don’t build any links.

Of course, if your content is amazing and you do on-page SEO, you’ll rank higher, but still not growing your link count doesn’t mean you will rank for anything out there… instead, you will still rank for long-tail terms that aren’t too competitive.

Nofollow high domain score blog comment links

Now the results from this group were interesting…

As you can see, the sites in this group had better results than the control group even though the links were nofollowed.

Keep in mind, though, that it could be many variables that caused this, such as the content quality may have been better.

Overall, the sites did perform better than the control group but not by a substantial amount.

Dofollow high domain score blog comment links

Google is sophisticated, they are able to know if a link is from user-generated content (such as blog comments), so I assumed even though the links where dofollow they still wouldn’t have much (if any) impact.

But, shockingly, sites in this group had the largest gains.

As you can see from the chart above, links from high authority sites, even if it is through user-generated content, help with rankings. They just have to be dofollow.

Dofollow low domain score blog comment links

With this last group, we were able to build more dofollow links because we focused on sites with lower authority.

And as you can see from the chart above, it did help with rankings more than building nofollow links but it didn’t help nearly as much as getting links from blogs with higher domain scores.

We built 10 links instead of 5, but the quantity didn’t help as much as having high domain score links. This group increased their rankings by 337% versus 828% that group 3 experienced even though they had half the links.

Again, we still saw gains, just not as large as the previous group.

Conclusion

Who would have thought that building links through blog comments still helps?

Now, if you are going to use this tactic, you’ll want to focus on blogs that have dofollow comments.

If you aren’t sure how to find them, you can perform a Google search for the following:

  • “title=”CommentLuv Enabled”” KEYPHRASE – this will showcase blogs that have CommentLuv enabled which means they pass link juice.
  • “dofollow blogs” – you find a lot of blog articles listing out blogs that have dofollow links. Some of them look like this but you will have to double-check each site as many are nofollow even though bloggers claim they are dofollow.
  • Followlist – this is a directory of blogs that have dofollow links.

When building links, focus on higher domain scores as it has a bigger impact on rankings.

In addition to that, you’ll only want to leave a comment if you can provide value. Don’t stress the anchor text, focus on the quality of your comment as you don’t want to be a spammer.

Posting spammy links will just cause your comment to be removed.

Lastly, don’t just leave a valuable comment for the sake of generating a link. Make sure it is on relevant blogs as well. And if that means the blog doesn’t have as high of a domain score that’s fine because the data above shows that even low domain score links still help (just not as much).

So, have you thought about leaving more comments on other blogs? It’s a great way to get your brand out there, generate referral traffic, and boost your rankings.

Digital Marketing News: B2B Marketing Outlook Study, Twitter Axes Audience Insights, Influencer Marketing Sees Growth, & TikTok’s Rising Revenue

2020 January 10 MarketingCharts Chart

Twitter Is Removing the Audience Insights Element from Twitter Analytics
Twitter has announced that it will do away with the current version of its Audience Insights portion of Twitter Analytics. On January 30 the platform will mark the end of the five year old follower data tool used by many digital marketers. Social Media Today

CCPA Is Here, But Many Companies Are Still Not Compliant
On January first the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect, however newly-released data shows that only 30 percent of firms were compliant as of November 2019, with some 18 percent expecting to be compliant by the beginning of 2020. eMarketer

Top 10 Instagram Stats for 2020 [Infographic]
200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile daily, and the Facebook-owned platform now has a potential advertising reach of nearly 850 million users — two of many insights contained in a recently-released infographic from Hootsuite. Social Media Today

The 10 most-advertised brands today vs. a decade ago
Geico now tops the list of most-advertised brands when it comes to U.S. measured-media spending, while a decade ago Verizon sat atop the list, according to newly-released data from AdAge showing the top ten brands now and ten years ago. AdAge

Social Media Across Generations [Infographic]
Nine percent more people overall are using social media to network for work, while influencer marketing has seen substantial gains, especially among Gen Z — some of the many observations detailed in a newly-released report from GlobalWebIndex. Social Media Today

Social media ad spend to hit $112bn even though it ‘stumps’ marketers
Global spending on social media advertising in 2020 is expected to reach $112B, while nearly 31 percent of CMOs say that they can’t show the impact of social ads on their businesses, according to newly-released report data from Forrester. Campaign

2020 January 10 Statistic Image

Twitter Officially Launches its ‘Promoted Trend Spotlight’ Ad Option
Twitter has rolled out a full launch of its Promoted Trend Spotlight ad options, with which brands now get the ability to be featured at the top of the Explore tab with either video or images, the social media firm recently announced. Social Media Today

TikTok’s revenue said to skyrocket over 300% in Q4
Short-form video creation firm TikTok has seen swiftly climbing revenue, up by more than 300 percent from $20 million in the third quarter of 2019 to over $50 million in Q4, newly-released third-party data reveals, possibly spurred by more brands advertising on the platform. TechCrunch

Facebook Adds New Features for Instant Articles, Including Links to More Publisher Content and Stories Sharing
Facebook has given its Instant Articles offering an overhaul, with easier publisher sharing via messages and groups, and additional off-site brand link options, among a slew of other new enhancements, the social giant recently announced. Social Media Today

INFOGRAPHIC: Five Insights From the 2020 Chief Marketer B2B Marketing Outlook
When it comes to generating leads, LinkedIn (client) was the top social media channel for B2B marketers, at 84 percent, followed by Facebook with 43 percent and both YouTube and Twitter, each at 25 percent — some of the many B2B marketing insights in newly-released survey data from Chief Marketer of interest to digital marketers. Chief Marketer

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2020 January 10 Marketoonist Comic

A lighthearted look at peak brand purpose by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Report: Only 2% Of Internet Worth Sitting Through 15-Second Ad — The Onion

Man Who Quit Social Media on New Year’s Going Door to Door to Tell Everyone — The Hard Times

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Prophix — Get Inspired by 7 of Our Favorite B2B Campaigns from 2019 — LinkedIn (client)
  • Lee Odden — B2B influencer marketing Ft. Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing (Inbound Success Ep. 124) [Podcast] — IMPACT
  • SAP — Q&A with SAP’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Alicia Tillman — ClickZ

Do you have your own top B2B content marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for joining us, and we hope you’ll return again next week for the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

Break Free B2B Series: Adam Dunn on Creating Blockbuster Video Content in B2B

Break Free B2B Interview with Adam Dunn

Content has many aims. It should inform. It should assist. It should entertain.

But as B2B marketers, doesn’t it seem like if we don’t deliver on the latter – immediately, and convincingly – we don’t really get a chance to deliver on the rest? 

Given that our job is dependent on earning and keeping an audience’s attention, marketers are wise to take cues from entertainment-focused content formats like films and music videos. Even more so, we’re wise to take cues from the creators behind them. In a nutshell, that’s why Adam Dunn offers a particularly valuable perspective for people in our line of work.

As a film and video director who has worked on numerous prominent music videos and Hollywood movies — including “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”, for which he and his team won an Academy Award — Adam is fervently focused on creating content that is compelling and captivating for audiences. At TopRank Marketing, we’ve also had the opportunity to work with him on several video marketing initiatives, seeing first-hand how his expertise can take such efforts to the next level.

via GIPHY

It’s often the thing that is imperfect that eventually becomes the thing people like the most, which is why Spiderverse became the thing that everyone loved. — @adamjdunn #VideoMarketing #BreakFreeB2B Click To Tweet

In this edition of Break Free B2B, TopRank President Susan Misukanis and I were thrilled to sit and chat with Adam about a variety of topics pertinent to marketers today. We asked which elements of his work tend to resonate most with audiences, what his recommendations would be for budget-friendly video content, how new technologies like live-streaming and VR are coming into play, and more.

This was actually the first episode of the show that was recorded, but we decided to warm you up with some rising stars and familiar faces in the B2B space first. Today we’re excited to share this conversation and branch out to more of an outsider’s perspective. 

(Note: There were some technical difficulties with the microphone on our end. But we didn’t want to let that prevent you from hearing Adam’s awesome insights; please bear with us!)

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Adam Dunn

If you’re interested in checking out a particular portion of the discussion, you can find a quick general outline below, as well as a few excerpts that stood out to us.

  • 0:30 — Adam’s background
  • 2:30 — Learning from failure and setbacks
  • 4:00 — Movies and music videos Adam has worked on
  • 6:45 Does “Into the Spider-Verse” represent a new visual frontier?
  • 9:45 — Learning to speak your audience’s language
  • 11:00 — The common traits of his most well-received work
  • 13:00 — The appeal of video marketing
  • 15:45 — Tips for creating video content with a finite budget
  • 18:00 — How will Twitch and live-streaming influence the future of marketing?
  • 21:30 — What is the role of VR and where is it heading?

Nick: As you look back at some of the things you’ve worked on — I’m especially interested in the music videos where there is a lot of content, a lot of competition, hard to stand out … When you look at the ones that are the most well received, and gained the most traction, do you see any common elements that are making those resonate?

Adam: I don’t know if there’s one common through point. But I think the biggest thing from all the ones that I’ve had that are successful is cohesiveness of vision. 

So while all the videos are totally different, making sure your team is 100% on the same page when making the content is what makes the most successful stuff on my end, just because you know, there have been videos where things have been a little bit crazy and we haven’t had we’d have a ton of time to shoot or anything like that, and we had to just kind of Helter Skelter, throw it all together to make something. And it doesn’t come out nearly as cohesive as something where the whole team knows exactly where everything is going, all the pieces fit, and then you make this beautiful piece of art and everyone loves it … 

How that could translate into something like B2B would be like, when you do an explainer, making sure you have that exact A to B to C lined up, ready to go. And that way when you make the explainer, everyone knows exactly where all the pieces fit, everything looks beautiful, and you make this amazing piece of content.

I think the biggest factor in successful video content is cohesiveness of vision. @adamjdunn #VideoMarketing #BreakFreeB2B Click To Tweet

Nick: We’ve had the opportunity to work with you on some B2B marketing projects. What interests you about video marketing and where do you see it going? 

Adam: I think video marketing is intriguing, because it brings in real-life storytelling. You bring in these experts and influencers who know exactly the topics are talking about — you get to meet them and watch how passionate they are about what they’re involved in. So you get to learn this really cool stuff. 

Like, when I first started working with you guys, I didn’t know a ton about B2B marketing, but I feel like I at least have a ground framework now from getting to be around a bunch of experts and talking to influencers and stuff. So that’s what intrigues me about it from my own on my own personal level, is getting to see these people who are super passionate and know everything.

Nick: So for someone who’s in B2B marketing and interested in doing video but doesn’t have an Academy Award winning effect specialist on hand, and maybe doesn’t know where to start … 

What would be some recommendations for those with a finite budget and limited resources to create something that is high-quality and looks professional?

Adam: I would say probably the very first place to start if you’re looking to get started on doing video and you have a limited budget would be to invest as much money as you can into your kit, first and foremost, because that’s the thing you’re gonna have all the time. So your camera, the lighting gear, your microphones, those kinds of things. 

With cameras you can make a lot of really professional, nice amazing things even on an iPhone now, so for camera, you have the tools at your disposal. One of the things that trip people up in a professional environment is audio-related. It’s like if you have something like tons of hum and pops and things like that, that’s something that can trip up professionals. So getting a nice microphone is usually a good spot. 

But a really good thing just for starting, and what I say when I end up lecturing back at my old school, is always just start. Just start making things and just dip your toes in the water because you’re never going to get great without just doing. So you need to do it in the early days and you know what if maybe the early ones aren’t as great as the ones that happened later, and that’s exactly what you want.

Just start making things and just dip your toes in the water because you’re never going to get great without just doing. @adamjdunn #VideoMarketing #BreakFreeB2B Click To Tweet

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite: