As a top 50 B2B agency and the leading foodservice agency we make it our business to stay ahead of the game when it comes to marketing trends and innovation. So last Thursday I hot footed it to BMA House for the B2B Marketing Conference 2012. Entitled ‘Liberate to Innovate’, the day-long event included talks from leading marketers, as well as workshops across a variety of key topics and panel discussions/debates, all with the aim of liberating us from the day to day in order to see the bigger picture!
The overall theme? ‘The crazy age’! Not that we’ve all gone crazy, but that things have changed so much in recent years that how we approach marketing has to change in order to keep up. Although the principles of marketing still remain as relevant as ever (as the closing debate reinforced), the environment in which we operate has changed dramatically with the development of web and social media channels. We need to embrace these changes and adapt to ensure we make the most of these new opportunities and approaches. No longer are we putting messages out there, we are partaking in a dialogue with potential customers who have access to a vast amount of information, a lot of it peer generated. The power of emotional connection and a move away from ‘selling’, to create a brand presence that engages is key in this new era.
So, bearing all this mind what were the key learning’s from the day?
Here’s our top 10 takeouts…
1) 9 out of 10 B2B buyers say they will find you (B2B Marketing 2012). In this new age of web based information buyers will find you (or your competitors) rather than the other way around. 50-60% of your B2B customers are in the buying cycle before they contact you (B2B marketing 2012). What does this mean? It means you need to be ‘out there’ through ongoing marketing, so that when buyers come to look for your product and services they will find you and already be engaged with your brand.
2) By 2015 it is predicted that 80% of new leads will be inbound (B2B Directions March 2012) as potential customers research online. Already 81% of B2B purchase decisions start with a web search (B2B Marketing 2012). Which means your web presence and social media strategy needs to right.
3) Brands with a strong core purpose (not just exist to make money) and who embrace ‘compassionate capitalism’ with the focus on profit, people and planet will succeed. There is a shift from selling to relationship building, from advertising to engagement, awareness to advocacy, bought media to earned media, broadcast to narrowcast, messages to storytelling, audiences to people and spokes persons to spokes people. It’s a new way of thinking aligned to the age we live in and we need to embrace it.
4) Brands who communicate the ‘why’ rather than the what of their proposition will succeed as they tap into the instinctive decision-making part of the brain, which responds to emotion rather than rational facts. To find out more see http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html In summary “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!” Simon Sinek
5) Brands who embrace storytelling will engage in this new world order of marketing. By creating an emotional engagement with potential customers brands can differentiate themselves by owning their brand personality. It’s the end of bullet points (oops!) and the start of engaging true stories to draw in potential customers. No more jargon and business speak – it’s tales and conversations.
6) Marketing is becoming more humanised. It’s about loving your customers not your products! It’s not B2B, it’s P2P (Person to Person)! It’s about creating magical moments for your customers, creating thought leadership by offering help and advice and creating unique and valuable content through all relevant channels to appeal to these people and engage them. This will mean that the balance between bought and earned media will tip even further in the direction of earnt, through social media platforms, blogging, PR, etc. It’s the online networked community which will wield power, not media owners.
7) Brands who can be agile and adapt quickly will come out on top (moving through the OODA loop at speed). The pace of marketing in the age of social media has increased dramatically, creating a need for immediacy and transparency which can be incredibly effective if done well.
8) The traditional sales funnel of ‘Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action’ (AIDA) no longer works in a linear format, it’s loopy! There are no direct steps, the web enabled buyer will research and be influenced by your content, your competitors content and of course your customers – ‘big data’ is all around us.
9) Because of the proliferation of data and information potential customers can often know more about a product or service then the sales contact, so sales must ensure they are part of the online world and communicate effectively internally as well as externally. Communication isn’t a direct line – we are all networked now! Equally through there may be just too much information, so what we put out there needs to be really good to cut thought! Average is ‘rubbish’ when it comes to social media.
10) Smartphones and tablets are on the rise with 1 in 4 business people purchasing on their mobile devices for their business (Google 2012) so having a mobile optimised site is essential for any B2B brand.
A couple of sites that didn’t make my top 10 included…
www.kickerstarter.com A platform where those with a business idea can raise capital to make it happen by engaging with people to become ‘investors’ – thereby marketing your product before it is even made by creating a community of customers who already believe and buy into what you are doing!
www.stackoverflow.com A great example of user generated content and how the drive for acclaim and status online fuels these kind of networked sites across all sorts of sectors and can be used to create brand leadership by having the answers people want!
In summary it was a great day with some very interesting speakers and topics covered. Well done to the team at B2B Marketing, now I best go and get implementing!
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