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JB King
Global Head of Content, Marsh & McLennan Companies

For global professional services businesses like Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC) that trade on intellectual capital, content is a key component in how we demonstrate depth of knowledge and deliver differentiation at the point of sale. Unlike a consumer products company that sells a tangible product, clients hire us for our ideas, experience and ability to help craft solutions, so content is arguably even more important because it’s the manifestation of our “product.”

How does content fit into your overall marketing and messaging strategies?

For global professional services businesses like Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC) that trade on intellectual capital, content is a key component in how we demonstrate depth of knowledge and deliver differentiation at the point of sale. Unlike a consumer products company that sells a tangible product, clients hire us for our ideas, experience and ability to help craft solutions, so content is arguably even more important because it’s the manifestation of our “product.”

Have your content investments increased or decreased over the past few years, and why?

Three of our four operating companies created their respective industries, which is another way of saying that a pioneering spirit and willingness to think outside of the box is in our DNA. We’ve always been a company of far-sighted individuals who have helped to anticipate and meet the biggest challenges of their times. Some of the more recent ways we’ve innovated is by showcasing content from across our different businesses on the most important issues facing the C-suite. One example is the launch of MMC’s Global Risk Center. While each of our operating companies has historically worked independently with their clients to address the major threats facing their industries, governments and societies, the Global Risk Center develops content that draws on the collective expertise of Marsh, Mercer, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman to address these issues. This collective perspective is very powerful and sets us apart in the marketplace.

Another example is BRINK, a digital news hub for global business leaders, policy-makers and journalists on issues related to emerging risks, growth and innovation. Made possible by Marsh & McLennan Companies, BRINK is an independent, journalistic enterprise managed by Atlantic Media Strategies. BRINK’s daily editorial content comes from leading industry experts, business executives, academics and other authorities across industries and economies. Some Marsh & McLennan experts do contribute to BRINK, which publishes fresh content each day, but more than 75 percent of its content is contributed by leading third parties.

As Global Head of Content for MMC, my mandate is to curate and amplify the content created by our operating companies with a focus on the world issues of greatest concern to our clients, core businesses and corporate reputation. Broadly speaking, those include catastrophe, cyber risk management, emerging risks, financial regulations, pensions and retirement, and private health exchanges. We are in the nascent stages of using this curatorial approach and are experimenting with a variety of ways of disseminating the information.

For example, we’re a partner and participant each year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where we release new content such as the annual Global Risks report, now in its tenth year. We produce this report with the WEF and Zurich Insurance Group, as well as with other proprietary intellectual capital to address issues such as the impact of diversity and inclusion on the performance of global companies. Last year, we elected to use Tagboard—a social listening tool that aggregates conversations across the major social networks including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+—leading up to and during Davos as a way to bring to life the on-the-ground activity there on all Marsh & McLennan websites (MMC and the four operating company properties). Tagboard enabled us to monitor all of the social conversations at Davos and then redisplay—in a single, unified way—the posts that were most relevant to our stakeholders. Participating and highlighting the social conversation at WEF in this fashion meant we could provide clients, colleagues and others with a one-stop source for breaking news and events at Davos. This was the first time this had been done at our company.

Our goal is to help educate and inform people about the impact of the most pressing global issues in a way that’s simple, straightforward and human. It strikes at the heart of why we do what we do. As we endeavor to fulfill our goal, I anticipate we’ll continue to try an array of novel approaches and to use what we learn as a way to get better and better at it.

Does your organization create content for all parts of the customer journey, or do you tend to focus on one or two areas (awareness, etc.)?

Each operating company has its own distinct approach for creating content and managing the customer journey. At the corporate level, our focus is on raising the visibility of our firm, extending our reputation, increasing awareness of our collective companies as leading thinkers on risk, strategy and people, and enhancing shareholder value.

How is the success of your content efforts measured?

To borrow from Seth Godin, “Real content marketing is making something worth talking about.” People are talking about BRINK. The leaders of the Global Risk Center, our CEO and our client-serving professionals tell us that clients are responding very positively to the content published on BRINK, and that’s supported by rising subscription numbers. In addition, less than a year after it was launched in November 2014, BRINK was named a bronze Stevie winner at the 2015 American Business Awards. These indicators suggest there’s merit in the idea that we can help the world at large to address some of the biggest risks of our time by convening the best and brightest thinking.

Are you able to tie effective content performance to revenue? If so, what results have you seen?

There is a clear business case that reputation helps to drive enterprise value or share price, and that’s what we’re focused on. Each of our operating companies has sophisticated systems for lead generation and sales strategy, which provides the sort of data they need to manage the business and enable marketing and communications to provide real-time campaigns that engage clients. At the corporate center, our work is focused on building the reputational foundation on which our businesses are built, so we take stock of things such as share-of-voice, expert attributions, website traffic and social media engagement.

What types of content deliver the most value for your organization?

As a professional services firm, content that showcases the depth and breadth of our insights tends to provide the greatest value to us. In this day and age, it’s vital that content is packaged and disseminated using all of the available channels—traditional, digital, long-form and short-form. People take in information in different ways and at different times, and if you want to make an impression, you need to cover the various channels that are important to your audiences—and to be there in a sustained way. It’s not dissimilar to reach and frequency analyses in traditional advertising. Frequent flights of key messages need to be communicated and reinforced to ensure your audience sees, hears and has an opportunity to internalize what you’re saying. As a consequence, campaigns that are more protracted deliver the most enduring benefit.

“"People take in information in different ways and at different times, and if you want to make an impression, you need to cover the various channels that are important to your audiences.””