It’s not that it’s unusual for B2B businesses to execute great content marketing strategies - Maersk and SAP are two companies that do it well.
It’s that it’s rare for B2B businesses to pull off content marketing as creative and sophisticated as Dansk Cater’s BLUS Magazine.
Which is why we sat down with Dansk Cater’s Head of Marketing, Claus Beck Christensen, to talk about how they use content to grow their B2B Community.
Named after the old Danish expression for “turning up the heat”, BLUS Magazine is a visual feast, catering to restaurateurs, chefs and purchasers working in the food service industry.
“We’re wholesale grocers, so we deliver raw ingredients to everyone. From the largest corporate cantinas, to exclusive upscale restaurants to the guy who sells hot dogs on the street,” explains Claus. “And we use BLUS to give them a peek behind the scenes.”
A Feast For The Eyes
What’s immediately clear is that BLUS is not your typical food magazine. Created in a collaborative effort with communications agency, 727, the front cover of the first issue features a big picture of a raw calf’s heart.
So, not for the squeamish or faint of heart but Claus argues, that’s not who BLUS is for.
“One thing we knew from the start was that we didn’t want a fancy plate of food on the front cover,” he explains. “Because, it’s been done a million times and besides that, we’re the grocers. We deliver the ingredients and it’s up the chefs’ imaginations to decide what to do with the ingredients they buy. Sure, the calf’s heart might seem a little shocking, but it’s completely normal for a chef who handles meat every day.”
Inside, the mouth-watering visuals continue with cool graphic illustrations explaining different cuts of meat or a guide to edible and forage-able Nordic herbs. These are supported by human interest stories, focusing on recognized Danish chefs or features about the remote village where the best fish in Denmark is sourced (weirdly, a town with no harbor).
“BLUS is for professionals, though it’s certainly accessible for anyone who’s passionate about understanding the journey food takes from ground to plate,” said Claus. “But it was very important for us that every article in the magazine was on the same level as the chefs and restaurateurs who read it. We weren’t going to waste their time with recipes for porridge or something simple like that. The point was to inspire these professionals and that meant making the pages look inspirational too.
Creating An Online Universe With iPaper
Dansk Cater, which acts as a parent company to several Danish food service providers, prints roughly 15,000 copies of each issue. To add a personal touch and maintain close contact with their customers, each magazine is brought by sales representatives or the drivers who deliver the produce to their customers each day.
Although BLUS is published in print, exclusive online content is also available on their website and embedded in the online magazine created with iPaper. This includes mini docs and interviews with chefs featured in the print edition as well as How-To recipe videos.
“The reason we both printed and put BLUS online was because we wanted to create a living thing online, a kind of universe,” said Claus. “And when you get right down to it, publishing the magazine to iPaper just offered more layers to the magazine experience, both in terms of the interactivity but also, in terms of analytics.”
Claus went on to explain that by using the analytics and heatmaps generated from the first issue of BLUS they were able to determine which pages of the magazine readers spent the most time on. Information they never would have gotten from their print edition.
“So when we had the editorial meeting for the second issue of the magazine, we knew from looking at the first issue what kind of content really resonated with readers. And based on heatmaps we saw that readers spent a lot of time checking out ‘Quick Facts Boxes’ with bite size information. From there, we knew to brainstorm ideas for similar fact boxes in the second issue,” said Claus.
“Don’t get me wrong, gut feeling is important, but numbers are ammunition for marketers. There’s value to being able to go to your boss and say, we spent whatever amount of money on this project and here’s exactly how many people read, interacted with, played the videos, commented, shared and so on.”
When The Marketing Goal is Storytelling
One of the things that you might notice as you read BLUS is that there aren’t any prices. Despite being produced by a wholesale food company specifically for customers, there’s no information about what anything costs.
Claus insists, this was done very purposefully.
“We have plenty of online catalogs, sales representatives and our webstore where customers can buy what they need," said Claus. Referring to the archive of shoppable online catalogs that they also create with iPaper, as well as their webstore where customers purchase directly.
“But, the point of BLUS isn’t to sell, specifically. It’s to provide value and knowledge. Which is why we don’t push ourselves to publish a new magazine every month, we only publish BLUS when we have a story worth telling.”
There are no traditional ads in BLUS either. Instead, Claus invited sponsors to write a relevant piece of content for the magazine itself.
The purpose of the sponsored content was to offer readers greater insight into the products that the sponsors made.
It also gave the sponsors more room to speak authentically to the readers by sharing real stories and emphasizing product and company values.
Differentiating Themselves From The Competition
Currently no one else in the B2B food service industry in Denmark is producing magazines to BLUS’ standard. And for that reason, Claus reckons that the endeavor might be experimental in its own way.
“One of the reasons we make BLUS is to differentiate ourselves. We have plenty of competitors of course, but we want to be known as more than a business that just delivers food,” he explains.
“We’re not looking to grow rapidly or thinking about dividends as much as we are thinking about how we’ve managed to stay in the game as long as we have. We did that by nurturing our relationships with our customers, and BLUS is one way for us to offer not just food, but industry insight. To elevate our customers’ business.
"And if we can help our customers succeed, then when our competitors show up on their doorsteps, maybe they think twice about changing wholesale grocers because we’re harder to walk away from. We’re a loyal business partner, not just a service provider.”
The second issue of BLUS came out last week and the third issue is on the horizon though Claus insists they’re in no hurry, preferring to take their time to produce a quality work rather than publish something mediocre.
“I hope that in the long run our customers ask for more BLUS. I’d like if we turned the tables on marketing a bit. Rather than bombard our clients with content, I’d love if we could create a demand for quality over quantity. And if they ask us for more BLUS magazines then I’ll know we’ve made something truly special. Because if we can’t maintain the high standard we strive for in all parts of our business, then what’s the point?”
This is the second interview in a series we're working on, focusing on ways businesses excel at using iPaper to market and sell their products and services. Check out our first interview with Graphic Designer Agnes Heinrichs to learn catalog design tips from one of the best in the business.