- Jim Lecinski, Google – The Changing Face of B2B Marketing
- Eduardo Conrado, Greg Meyers, Paul Steinberg, Motorola Solutions – Mission: Innovation – Creating a Compelling Case for Change at a Successful B2B Company
- Russell Stokes, Krisi Lundgren, GE Transportation – A Whole New Train of Thought: Delivering Customer Outcomes
- Russell Glass, Sean Callahan, authors, “The Big Data-Driven Business: how to use big data to win customers, beat competitors and boost profits”
- Laura Ramos, Forester Research, “Predicting the Future”
I’m oversimplifying as there were numerous more phenomenal speakers and presentations, but you get the idea. Top notch content! Here are the top 7 themes that stood out during the conference:
Millennials (ages 18-34) already make up 46% of today’s potential buyers researching B2B products. In 10 years, Millennials will make up 70% of the workforce so expect their buying power to increase. To target them effectively, take time to understand how to relate to your audience and how they consume content. This is a generation that’s as comfortable with start-ups as it is with established legacy businesses, therefore don’t overlook start-ups as your competitors, even if they don’t compete with you directly. In addition, Millennials bring their business-to-consumer (B2C) shopping expectations to the B2B buying process. They will seek out start-ups to unbundle services to get what they need.
2. Be excellent at delivering a great mobile experience.
We have officially reached a tipping point. Time spent online exceeds all other media, including TV. Of this, 80% of time spent is with mobile devices. Wearable technology, such as the Apple Watch, will continue to drive this trend. This changes how B2B buyers behave and how B2B decisions are made. In fact, the number of B2B searches has tripled over the last 3 years, with 42% of all searches for B2B taking place on mobile devices. Another interesting statistic is that 60% of these B2B customers are only researching 1-2 brands. Today’s B2B buyers have a better idea of what they are looking for. And, the B2B buyer does not behave that much different than the general population.
Bottom line, your first job as an excellent B2B marketer is to deliver a great mobile experience first.
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3. Customers come first. The rise of personas as content drivers.
Gone are the days where your product or service leads. Today’s best marketing programs are focused on outcomes and what customers receive. Value propositions and content marketing programs need to be based on personas for a more surgical approach in marketing efforts. Taking time to get to know your customers helps you understand how to modify content according to their preferences and where they are in the buying cycle. And, make sure you are speaking to customers using accessible language so your message doesn’t get lost. This is important even in industries steeped in heritage. After all, we’re still marketing to consumers.
4. Marketing should deliver better experiences for customers.
We’re at a juncture of advanced customer expectations, solution evolution and the need for innovation. This innovation for customers can, and should be, driven by marketing, IT and R&D. Our design thinking and IT priorities should blend the needs from sales, service and marketing to deliver a cohesive customer experience. This type of collaboration with IT and R&D changes corporate cultures with IT being the strategic enabler to get us there.
5. The future of B2B marketing is predictive analytics.
Forester believes that predictive analytics is the next big evolution in B2B marketing. They also believe that with the rise of data-driven marketing, B2B marketers are going to become indispensable in the buyer’s journey. With these new levels of insights, marketers will be able to tailor content the right way, in the right moment, where customers are searching so that their message can be more relevant and nurturing than ever before. This will also create better customer experiences (need I remind you of trend #4?). This ability is not a fantasy, predictive analytics is already here and the adoption is coming. Judging by the hallway conversations during the BMA15 conference, putting this concept into practice is still out of reach for many B2B companies; but it is on the horizon.
6. B2B marketing is challenging: educate yourself.
As if you haven’t drawn this conclusion reading trends 1-5, then you’ve likely already figured it out through your own experience. This trend will continue and your team will need knowledge to navigate the evolving landscape successfully.
In 1965, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, predicted that over the history of computing hardware, the numbers of transistors in a dense integrated circuit will double every two years. This prediction, known as Moore’s Law, has held true. If it continues to hold true, in 2023 the contents of a laptop will hold the knowledge of one human brain. In 2035, it will hold the intelligence of all human brains. Think of what this will mean for marketing!
7. Marketing must adapt and evolve
My biggest take-away from the conference isn’t necessarily new, but a good reminder that we all need to stay current with our skill sets. This may mean setting aside resources to learn as you go. Frankly, some of the most exciting and rewarding work that our agency is doing is the work that’s new to us and our clients. It keeps us exploring the edges of what’s possible together and refining our approach.
Stephani Simon is the president of Inprela communications, a business-to-business PR firm that works exclusively with healthcare and manufacturing companies. Stephani is a long-time member of BMA MN and most recently served on the association’s board of directors as the Communications Chair.