Marketing is changing in fundamental ways. That is not a theory…that is a fact. And if you’re still marketing your goods and services the way you always have – using traditional interruption marketing tools & agencies…you are losing ground to more savvy competitors who have embraced the new tools and techniques of engagement marketing.
This change is impacting both B-to-C (business-to-consumer; i.e. retailers, installers & integrators) and B-to-B (business-to-business; i.e. brands, reps & distributors) marketers. This point was further driven home by an article that appeared recently on AdAge.com called Seven B-To-B Marketing Trends That Will Shape 2015, that agrees with our premise of the changing nature of marketing.
See our take on AdAge.com’s Seven Trends…
AdAge.com, the website of Advertising Age Magazine, has, like us, been reporting on the dramatic changes impacting marketing…really tectonic plate shifts that have completely transformed the discipline. Traditional interruption marketing tactics are losing their impact in favor of more engaging content marketing techniques.
Last month, the magazine wrote about trends impacting B-to-B marketers that are so immediate, they will literally “shape” 2015. We agree with most of their thoughts…although our emphasis would slightly differ from theirs.
The Seven Trends from AdAge.com (with our added comments) are:
- Great storytelling – “You have to be great storytellers, especially in b-to-b,” the global creative director for GE, Andy Goldberg, told AdAge.com. Goldberg then went on to explain why GE reworked their entire advertising creative to look at GE inventions through the eyes of a child (a young girl fancifully describing a wide range of products that her Mom, who works at GE, creates.)We agree that great storytelling is the most important thing, as we recently wrote in a post. Customers and potential customers seek compelling and engaging stories about your company and its products and services. They don’t want a hack used-car salesman, barking platitudes and special deals at them. Today’s customer’s and prospects want imaginative, honest, and interesting stories about the positive benefits of your goods or services.
- Less data, more emotions – Recent research shows that…much like the consumer market…b-to-b “decision-makers are increasingly looking to their gut instead of the data” to make buying decisions, according to Christoph Becker, CEO and chief creative officer at b-to-b agency Gyro. The fact is, we all are dealing with a “digital tsunami” of 24/7 information flowing to us that Becker says is making buyers numb. Companies must become more “humanely relevant” to break through this noise. Through careful messaging, using enhanced graphics and other media to help illustrate your story, you can ignite the customer’s/prospect’s imagination and touch them emotionally.
- Shareable content – To better connect with our market, AdAge.com suggests creating impactful content that is more sharable. Especially for those of us in the technology industry, our stories and messaging can get…complex. A growing trend is to use videos, graphics, etc. to help better illustrate our stories – make them easier to understand, and, consequently…more sharable.
- Holistic user experience – The successful company today will pay close attention to the user experience of its customers with its products and marketing messages. And this needs to be a holistic effort involving marketing, the CIO and the CTO, according to Eduardo Conrado of Motorola Solutions. Conrado says that Motorola engages all three disciplines to focus on the design of products and marketing to ensure a superior user experience.
- Consumerization – Marketers need to stop viewing their business customers like some kind of monolithic market only concerned about business, data, and decisions. Instead, Adam Kleinberg of online agency Traction suggests that marketers treat this market more like a consumer market. After all, business people are, first and foremost, people.”We need to realize that b-to-b customers are people. They go home and watch ‘American Idol’ and they sit in traffic on the way to work,” said Adam Kleinberg, CEO of Traction. “They have the same humanity and cultural insights you see in consumer work.” Kleinberg says more creative approaches are needed to break through the clutter and get the typical b-to-b customer’s attention.
- Reprioritizing marketing – “One of the biggest things is a reprioritization of marketing within companies, particularly in b-to-b industrial companies, as they realize the business pressures have changed, especially with digitization,” Kathy Button Bell, CMO at Emerson told AdAge.com. Bell went on to say that with “so much disruption” and an “accelerated rate of change” marketers are twice as busy as they were ten years ago. Companies need to recognize that marketing has changed and they need to reprioritize getting their marketing efforts up to today’s standards.
- Connecting technologies – Tom Stein of b-to-b agency Stein IAS Americas says that a new and deeper connection will emerge that will pull disparate resources together for a big leap in user experience. Resources such as data management and predictive analytics are currently independent – and disconnected – disciplines. But Stein suggests new ways of connecting these resources will yield new breakthroughs that will benefit marketers.
In TECH today, we have noticed many companies clinging to their traditional marketing tactics…even if the positive impact from them is declining. Of this list of trends from AdAge.com, we think most companies in our industry would benefit from focusing on great storytelling (#1), using more emotion (#2), creating better, more sharable content (#3), and – most importantly – reprioritizing marketing (#6).