Business marketing has arguably been evolving faster than its consumer counterpart. Many of the traditional conferences, trade shows and business dinners have given way to new innovations and creative solutions, supported by technology. In this series, Alison Biggan, president of corporate marketing at SAP, speaks to The Drum about the consumerization of business marketing, what inspires and excites her about recent B2B trends, and what she will look for in a winning entry as chair of The Drum Awards for B2B.
When trying to create the best possible work, Biggan believes authenticity is essential. “Telling a story that is authentic to you and your company, showing why it matters to your customer – and maybe to the world – is incredibly important.”
This is increasingly important as B2B marketing becomes more aligned with B2C. “If you think about the consumerization [of business marketing], and the expectations that come with that, you’ll see the importance of reaching customers with a relevant message just in the moment they’re looking for that message. It could not be more critical.”
She thinks this will be borne out by this year’s award winners – with a twist. “I think you’re going to see sort of that authentic storytelling continue, but you’re going to see it in a way that we haven’t in the past. We’ve been challenged to do things differently, because we’ve been challenged to do them digitally. It will drive a great deal of creativity, and I can’t wait to see it.”
Trouble comes when companies try to tell a story that isn’t authentic. “During the Covid-19 pandemic, it felt like there was a period where every television ad was a heartstring ad, talking about the world we were living in.” That got old for audiences. “While you don’t want to be tone deaf, trying to be too generic can water down your meaning.”
The same problem happens when covering issues such as sustainability or doing good in the world. “These are incredibly important stories and everyone should take pride in telling them, but you ultimately have to make it connect to who you are.” Otherwise, customers see through it, and it can do more harm than good.
So how do business marketers find the balance? “Putting yourself in the shoes of your customers is critical to coming up with something actionable, really using the data you have to drive the decisions you make.” The shift to digital has made this easier. “We have deeper and more profound insights and, as marketers, it’s incumbent upon us to do something with that information.
“We have to move quickly, and to be comfortable with making mistakes, challenging the status quo. That will manifest as a change in what we’re doing, how we’re investing our dollars.”
Watch the full interview on our YouTube channel.