B2B marketing that meets the new needs of decision-makers
It’s clear that, despite being tested by the pandemic, business-to-business (B2B) marketers are at the top of their game and exploring new avenues for growth through the dynamic application of strategy, creativity, culture, digitization, and content.
Against this exciting backdrop, The Drum partnered with The Wall Street Journal | Barron’s Group as part of B2B World Fest for a fireside discussion looking at what drives B2B decisions today and is expected to remain the case in the near future. It featured Phillipa Leighton-Jones, global editor at large and anchor, The Trust, The Wall Street Journal | Barron’s Group, and Matteo Atti, executive vice president of marketing and innovation at private jet hire business VistaJet.
Throughout the session, the participants covered how to unlock the B2B decision journey, the part emotions play in the B2B decision-making process, and using content to best connect with influential audiences.
What drives B2B decisions?
Leighton-Jones introduced the findings of the recent Future of Business Travel report from VistaJet and WSJ Intelligence that shows the negative impacts of the decline in business travel during the pandemic and reveals that 81% of companies surveyed agree that business travel will be more important than ever to driving success in the future.
Atti says that VistaJet is in a good place to build on this heightened awareness of the value of business travel: “We have been talking to so many people in seeding so much content out for the last five years, that the moment the need came up, people picked up the phone and knew who to call. That is the core moment in a B2B-type of transaction where you're talking about big investments and about long-term collaborations. You've been there for them before. So, as a chief marketing officer in B2B, you don't build for the now, you're always building for the near future.”
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Leighton-Jones also revealed findings of the new Trust Your Decisions white paper published by WSJ Intelligence in collaboration with B2B International, which explores the nature of trusted information throughout the B2B purchase journey. She says: “One of the big headlines was that at the outset of that journey, decision-makers have the greatest familiarity with the winning brands, greater familiarity with the winners than the losers. That happens because they're seeing them more often, and they are learning from many of them, so they know what they're about.”
This means that for marketers in the B2B space there’s a need for always-on communication in order to build levels of trust among those decision-makers. Leighton-Jones adds: “Among the data points we found from the white paper is that choosing a new supplier can take as little as six weeks… and the buying journey can start at any point in a cycle. The messaging needs to be consistent. It needs to evolve, sure, to take into account data and a changing landscape, while being consistent and salient at all times.”
Atti then considers the role that content marketing has played, and continues to play as people considered the value of travel, in achieving this for VistaJet: “We were on the lookout for everything that could inspire us to produce pieces of content that could support people, because the moment they make the decision, wherever they are in that cycle of decision making, they would think about us.”
Leighton-Jones builds on the earlier theme of establishing trust and confidence and how that works for B2B marketers when it comes to advertising with The Wall Street Journal: “We work hard to earn that trust every single day with the most rigorous standards in our newsroom. And those standards then inspire how we work within the rest of the organization. For our advertisers, that's still the same high-value audience that we're delivering. And those are sophisticated decision-makers. So we want our ads, whether that's display or custom or events, to be worthwhile and informative.”
The experts explore the values of honesty in collaboration, and building personal connections with B2B decision-makers, before talking about how thought leadership content works for those individuals. Atti says: “Thought leadership breaks impressions, it breaks the myths that are spread around by soundbites. And it provides clarity to validate your impressions and identify trends and real changes in a structured and well-explained manner.”
Leighton-Jones and Atti also talk about the importance of moving beyond a transactional cycle towards a situation in which B2B marketers are shifting “the needle on how brands can tell their stories and add to the sum of knowledge” through their campaigns and content marketing.
The session concludes with some strong parting thoughts from Atti on how to think for the future in terms of B2B marketing: “First and foremost, respect the reader. Don't take shortcuts. They are smart people. Don't try to be smarter than them, just try to really serve and respect the time they're giving you when they're reading your message. It’s good practice for every marketer to be relevant and to be there for the long-term.”
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