We do B2B, and we do Tech, so it was a no-brainer to go along to B2B Marketing’s ‘B2B InTech’ event in London this week.
The tools and technology that underpin B2B marketing are continuing to develop at a rapid rate, and as a result are driving innovation in the industry. It’s also pushing businesses to re-think the way that they’re structured, the way they operate, and the way they collaborate in order to deliver the levels and types of engagement that their customers are now expecting.
We joined a series of really interesting seminars from industry leaders, big and small to gain insight and inspiration on the current and upcoming trends. Lots of great insight was provided, but for me the 5 key themes were as follows:
The customer community is king
It’s a stat I’m sure you’ll have heard before – ‘67% of the customer journey now takes place digitally, and 57% of their journey is already complete prior to any engagement with the sales organisation’. And customers are gathering much of their information in digital communities. To continue engaging them we must to go to where they are, meeting them earlier in their journey, within their digital communities. But to have credibility in this space it’s important to actively contribute, and be human, relevant and interesting. We must be helping them solve their problems (and NOT selling!).
All for one and one for all!
It has never been more important for there to be a strong synergy between Sales and Marketing functions, to share their understanding of the customer and deliver customer-centric engagement. To be competitive and achieve the (often shared) key business goals, a unified approach is required. So much so that in some forward-facing companies, CEOs are doing away with separate functions.
Creativity still matters
The last 2 years have seen more technological advances in Marketing than the 50 years before them. In the age of Marketing Automation, businesses are able to automate and mechanise more and more of their marketing processes. However, creativity still matters, and there will always be a requirement for human input. With the level of data now available to us we have the scientific understanding and the opportunity to develop better creative work than ever before.
Technologies like Marketing Automation have allowed marketers to create and deliver personalised customer experiences much more easily, immediately and efficiently than ever before. However, effective use of these tools is underpinned by customer data. Customers are beginning to expect a personalised experience, and as such, Contextual Data begins to play a very central role – engaging customers based on where they go, what they read, what websites they visit and how they behave. Customer engagement is moving to the next level; though there is a fine line between being relevant and being over-familiar.
A brand for and of the people
The brand has always been considered a sacred aspect of the marketing toolkit, to be carefully policed and managed. But in times when consumers expect to have more control over their experience, it’s important to have a two way relationship, and this even extends into brand ownership. Adobe have led the way with their ‘Remix’ campaign, inviting creative individuals to interpret their treasured logo in whatever way they saw fit. If we say brands are for our customers then let’s make it so, and allow them to help steer the brand.