Monday, March 30, 2015

Trends re-shaping B2B Marketing

Industry connect sessions offered by Institute of Product Leadership is a great opportunity to meet, connect and learn from industry experts from various backgrounds. and Its also exciting because Its free. We had Anshul Kaushesh, Brand Systems and Communications leader from IBM, sharing her experiences on the transforming space of B2B marketing that left the audience walk away with a very enriching experience.

My idea of attending this session was mainly to understand how B2B marketing differs from that of B2C marketing which I have been studying lately. With every passing slide and the points from Anshul's presentation, this idea started turning into more of a misconception or a myth. B2B marketing is getting more & more closer to B2C, in fact, it would not be wrong to say that there is nothing like B2B or B2C marketing, its just Marketing. This eventually became the biggest take away for me from this session and we will see multiple reasons as to why, in the rest of this blog.

1:1 relationships : B2B deals are no longer struck on the golf course because it is no longer just the CEOs or CFOs signing the deals, but CMOs, CRO, rather all CxOs and other senior management professionals now have the authority to make buying decisions. Most of these CxOs are milleniars and hence deeply rooted to the technology. They understand the social ecosystem really well and use these skills while making their buying decisions. In fact, a large amount of  such decisions are made even before the lead is initiated. The buying entity makes a much more informed decision based on the information and data already publicly available. This brings us to a very key point of significance of relationships, but these relationships are to be built and maintained by marketers and not just Sales. Marketing is now looking at how do they personalize their campaigns to build 1:1 relationships with the decision makers and influencer/stakeholders. The ad campaigns are more about the buyers/consumers and no longer about just the brand. An ad campaign boasting about the brand is now old school, but they are likely to connect to the buyers relating to their cognitive and emotional senses.

Being Found - The second most important point to understand from marketing perspective is that it is no longer about conducting events, then identifying the leads from those events and passing it on to Sales. In fact, it is not about finding the customer at all, it is now about "being found" by the buyer who has his own places to look for information. The tech savvy buyer is likely to go to google, facebook, twitter and various other social platforms to find out more about the products or services he is considering. He is going to research or look for curated information that is now widely available. Also, If this buyer is looking at google today, tomorrow he might be looking at other places and this is exactly why the marketers need to be extremely agile ensuring that they are available where the buyer is looking at.

Marketing Efficiency - Traditionally, ROI from marketing campaigns or events has always been subjective to Sales effectiveness and hence would be difficult to measure. With the ongoing changes to the marketing function, there data driven activities would now directly reflect on the ROI and hence it is now possible to get much closer to the reality in terms of identifying its effectiveness.

Impact to Sales - As marketers are now being expected to identify, track and develop 1:1 relationship with the buyers, they are beginning to overlap with the typical function of Sales. Sales would eventually shift their focus onto more specialized activities but the need for typical Sales function is anticipated to go down further in the long term.

Skills required for being successful marketer - As the marketing role is getting transformed into this new avatar, the skills required to be a successful marketer are also changing, rather acquiring new skills is becoming more critical. As the function is becoming more data driven, being smart and savvy is just not enough any more, it is equally important to have an understanding of how the data is generated and how that is interpreted to increase the effectiveness.

With this session, it was evident for me that the learning experience becomes delightful when it happens unexpectedly and I am certainly looking for attending more of these events in the near future. The views here are my own interpretations from Anshul's presentation and the discussions afterwards.
You can find more details about the Industry Connect events and the Speaker here.


kedar said...

Thanks for the post. It’s nice that you are sharing these insights. It is always nice to hear from industry experts. 

The need for typical Sales function is anticipated to go down further in the long term. We can discuss this at a great length. I’ll take a slightly different position. In an increasingly commoditized world, I believe there is a great need for ‘salesmanship’. Any industry/product/service you look, you’ll find at least 3 to 4 big players with more or less same offerings. Has it ever happened that you zeroed in on a product (a phone, a car or a toy??) and in the end bought another? That’s where you were ‘sold’ without you even realizing it.

I absolutely agree that Sales would eventually shift their focus onto more specialized activities, but tracking and developing 1:1 relationships is still a distant dream for a marketer. The tools we use are still very primitive to do that. (Though I hope that happens soon, this will make my job easier.. I HOPE). I believe at lease in the foreseeable future marketing and sales functions will co-exist happily supporting each other. Though in a distant future, (By distant I mean a horizon of more than 5/7 years) I hope every single point made here will become reality.

Cheers, Keep Posting.  Today. You have gained one more regular follower.

Avijit Samanta said...

Nice one Mayuresh :-)