In an age where countless industries need to deepen customer relationships and strengthen thought leadership, where is B2B heading? According to The Drum B2B Awards judges, customisation is key to strengthening relationships and more B2B clients are investing in social responsibility strategies but it’s digital that is causing a lot of disruption across the sector in trying to catch up with B2C counterparts.
Ahead of awards, The Drum speaks to judges from MRM//McCann Detroit, Stein IAS, Adobe, Mower and Brownstein Group on what the big trends are for B2B marketing.
Jeff Cruz, executive vice president and chief creative officer, MRM//McCann Detroit
We all know that so much of what we’re doing – as people and as marketers – is shifting to digital, and that’s got a lot of global B2B marketers trying to catch up with their B2C counterparts. While many B2Bers are seeking help to reinvent their outdated channels, to make things even more fun, they need to find compelling ways to talk to a variety of different audiences with different backgrounds, different levels and types of experience, and from different industries. And, and this is a big AND, the education and storytelling is tougher for many B2B providers because their solutions can be complicated to explain. Our approach? Talk to people like people. We help brands grow meaningful relationships with people by understanding the unique needs of every individual. For us, it’s not about B2B or B2C, but P2P: People to people.
Tom Stein, chief client officer, Stein IAS
Advances in digital technology – what’s often called “modern” marketing -- keep speeding up and B2B marketers are working very hard to keep pace. At the same time, B2B marketers are reaching back to the “pre-modern” days of marketing when emotionally-rooted, iconic creativity held sway – triggering a renaissance of bold, brave creative ideas and experiences. Put the two together – digitally powered Modern Marketing measurability and more consistently inspiring creativity -- and you have what we call “post-modern marketing.”
Chris Steenstra, chief administrative officer, Mower
B2B brands are paying more attention than ever to the intersection between their brand narrative and customer engagement. And we’re seeing more B2B clients investing in social responsibility strategies to build and differentiate their brands. They’re ‘doing well by doing good’ — whether through sustainability, social justice, economic development, inclusion and more. This not only gives them a competitive edge by elevating the conversion above speeds and feeds, it helps with employee recruitment and retention, which is critical in a tight labor market.
Chris Duffey, senior strategic business development manager, creative agencies, creative cloud Enterprise, Adobe
The societal transformation we are living in is an unprecedented time. Digital is disrupting every industry and everyone, both personally and professionally. With the Internet of Things (IoT) evolution, content is being consumed across more devices at a faster rate than ever before. Yet the more things change, the more the core truth seems to stay the same – the need for the human experience to be at the heart of any successful marketing effort.
Consumers expect and demand their brand experiences to be personalised, optimised and flawless across every touch point in the customer journey, regardless if it’s a B2B or B2C marketing effort. And this is the foundation of the digital transformation, which has ultimately given rise to the Experience Economy. Yet great experiences don’t just happen, they have to be meticulously designed across every touchpoint to make every customer feel like a VIP. Informed design and creativity problem solving must be a priority for B2B, not an afterthought.
This new paradigm and mind shift will provide unprecedented proximity to customers, especially when highly-customised marketing programs are based on the fundamental truth that key business issues facing the client are the nucleus of innovation.
Now that’s true thought leadership, leading by putting the needs of the logical and emotional Human Experience first.
Marc Brownstein, president and chief executive officer, Brownstein Group
Customisation is key to strengthening relationships – and account-based marketing is a powerful B2B trend that can drive revenue and grow your business. ABM is essentially how sales were done before we could distribute communications en masse. It’s building personalised campaigns towards specific accounts – treating an individual prospect or existing client like its very own market, or a market of one. It takes time to cultivate and deepen that relationship, but by feeding customers the right content – that’s customised and relevant to them, yet also demonstrates your organisation’s strengths and insights – you can boost ROI and measurable sales to high-value targets.
Founding partner of these awards are Stein IAS and sponsored by LinkedIn.