The world of B2B can seem like a complicated one. There are so many approaches, technologies, and trends to navigate, it’s easy to forget what really matters. At our recent event, we were joined by The Economist’s SVP Strategy & Marketing, Jamie Credland, and Progress Sitefinity Marketing Manager, Alexander Shumarski, to discuss the seven wonders of B2B marketing.
Here’s a quick insight into what we covered:
Automation is a broad topic, but it’s a big trend that won’t be going away any time soon. It can offer a range of benefits, but for our guests’ efficiency was the biggest reason for taking the first steps into the world of automation. Jamie, however, pointed out that whilst automation can have an incredibly positive impact, we shouldn’t be relying on it for the full customer journey. Automation doesn’t replace the need for the idea, it’s one step along the journey.
It’s also crucial that automation is done properly. Journeys need to be mapped out and fully understood, otherwise your automation won’t be as effective as it could be. For best practice, B2B needs to look to B2C. There’s no doubt that B2C is leading the way in the world of automation, and we all agreed that it’s time B2B caught up.
Personalisation goes hand in hand with automation, and the expectation for it is increasing within the B2B world. From tailored emails, to personalised touchpoints, customers want to receive a bespoke experience that gives them exactly what they’re looking for. Like automation, B2C is leading the way with this trend, but as it becomes the norm in our personal lives it creates an expectation within our professional lives.
Alex explained that data is crucial to personalisation, so if brands want to get it right, they need to track habits and collect as much information as possible. Alongside this, A/B testing is vital to creating a personalised experience that works.
Whether you love it or just don’t get it, voice is expected to have a huge influence over buyer journeys. This easily translates in B2C, with brands like Amazon creating voice based devices which allow customers to order products. But what about B2B?
Many marketers in the room agreed that whilst voice isn’t an immediate priority for B2B marketing, it could be in the future. It was also agreed that marketers need to take it back to basics, think simply, and ensure that value is added. We discussed the exciting opportunity for B2B to potentially lead in utility-based voice products that will help with customer service.
AI development and the expectation for brands to speak out on social issues means that ethics are a hot topic in the marketing world. Despite this, we found that many of the senior level marketers in the room are not actively incorporating this into their current strategies.
Jamie pointed out that when it comes to technology and ethics, marketers need to pay attention to the inputs and not just the outputs. Look at who is working on your campaigns and developing any AI you might be using – is there diversity? Are there different opinions? Could any unconscious bias be passed on to the AI?
As part of a broader conversation, marketers pointed out that whilst there is both a legal requirement and a commercial benefit to social purpose and company ethics, employee advocacy is a result that often goes unnoticed. Equally, if a company does not live their purpose as well as communicate, this could backfire with employees.
5. Diversity of thought
Lifestyles and workplaces are changing. Diversity is increasing in the B2B world, and campaigns and marketing efforts should reflect that. Jamie explained how the typical ‘white man in a suit’ imagery no longer works for B2B because it no longer reflects the industry. He advised working with an agency who fully understand your audience in order to achieve more relevant stories and campaigns.
LEWIS Creative Director, Leila, pointed out that in order to get new, innovative ideas, you need a range of thinking types and people. By having diversity of thought within a team, marketers can imagine new possibilities and be even more creative with their campaigns and work.
6. The crisis of boredom
The length of the modern attention span certainly sparked some debate at the breakfast briefing, with mixed reactions from the guests and speakers.
Jamie suggested that there isn’t a crisis of boredom, but rather a crisis of competition. There is so much content in the world that it is hard to stand out, but if you offer something with value or of high quality, the attention span will be there. Just think about how many people watched Game of Thrones!
How content is served has also become crucial to capturing attention. Alex explained that brands need to serve content in a way that suits audiences, particularly within B2B where buyer journeys can be much more complicated and involve hundreds of touch points.
7. Visual assets
With exciting opportunities such as VR, visual assets can now reach new heights and be highly effective across many industries. For many B2B brands, however, there’s still a need to get the basics of video right before more advance technology is embraced.
Despite this, marketers in the room could see the opportunity that visual assets, like VR hold. Jamie explained how creativity and imagination is now crucial to B2B visuals, from how it is deployed and utilised right through to execution.
Whilst we could easily host a whole session on each topic, it was fascinating to hear from senior level marketers across a range of industries. It became clear that despite the exciting opportunities that technology is bringing, we need to make sure we’re using those smart tools in the right way. There needs to be a balance between brand and technology, and testing is crucial to getting it right.
If you’d like to discuss any of these topics in more depth, we’d love to grab a coffee and have a chat with you. Just get in touch.