B2B Marketing in 2021: The CEOs Weigh In
So you think you know B2B Marketing? Learn what the leaders have to say about how the world of B2B has evolved, and where there is to go from here.
BREAKING B2B BARRIERS:
THE CEOS WEIGH IN
What puts organizations ahead in the new age of B2B Marketing and Sales? Learn what the leaders have to say.
INTO A NEW ERA
'Evolution' describes gradual development from earlier forms to newer ones – a collection of changes in inherited traits over time.
Some industries and businesses evolve faster than others, and in the past, there was a lot more room for the slower adoption of new technologies – for resistance to change.
Yet as we now sink our feet into a new decade, one ‘disruptive’ truth is clearer than ever (albeit a long time coming): This is a digital-first world. It moves fast and it can be unforgiving, regardless of how ready you feel for it or not.
Just look at how much B2B Marketing has changed. It’s hard to imagine a time when B2B marketers could rely only on in-person selling and paper handouts like old-school trade catalogues and step-by-step sales manuals.
B2B HAS COME A LONG WAY...
Targeted B2B marketing and sales campaigns now leverage entire tech ecosystems – complex innovations that our B2B ancestors from the pre-internet era probably never even dreamed of. From the period of 2011 to 2020 alone, the MarTech industry has seen a whopping 5,233% growth.
If we think about that then it surely sounds like we’ve come a long way. And in many ways, we have. However, just because our technological landscapes are growing doesn’t necessarily mean our businesses or our relationships with others are any better off.
On the contrary, with all the new technologies popping up left and right, it’s all too easy to believe that they’ll be able to solve all our problems. Not so.
Successfully finding the right solutions to our different human needs never starts with tech; this process needs to start and continually be centered on the problems and the goals of people.
To lead with tech without putting human needs at the heart of your operations is to lead blindsided and in vain.
Consider the evolution of the B2B Marketing and Sales landscape in comparison to the evolution of people as end-consumers. As end-consumers, we’re much further along.
...BUT THERE'S STILL A LONG WAY TO GO.
If we’re honest, people expect much more than what most B2B companies can currently provide.
If you work in B2B, consider that outside of your work environment you’re probably just like everyone else in the way you consume goods and services: book a holiday, ride a taxi, settle your debts, call a friend, order a meal – you name it and you know you can get it, all within a matter of seconds and likely with the flick of a finger.
As consumers, we constantly want and expect better experiences, better products and better services. We know that today’s level of tech and innovation can make it available to us.
However, if we look beyond the consumer perspective and extend it to B2B buying scenarios, it's clear that we're far behind.
Once you're back inside your B2B world, your expectations remain just as high, but the buyer experience likely doesn’t match up.
This is because often times, B2B organizations get stuck in old processes that are difficult to scale, dependent on physical presence, and reliant on offline assets or hard-coded procedures.
We say we’re all about technology and “digital transformation”, but how and if that actually materializes is a different story.
In this ‘new’ digital-first era where it feels like the industry is constantly warping in hyper-speed, we turn to the leaders at the forefront of marketing technology to offer guidance and vision.
A special thanks goes out to our contributors and strategic business partners:
Jim Kaskade from Conversica uses a cultural lens to explain the growing need for augmented workforces that blend both human and AI capabilities to meet the needs of today's buyers.
Etai Beck from Folloze calls on B2B brands to rethink their strategies with a journey and buyer-centric mindset – supported by next gen operational models and MarTech stacks, and led by what he calls "The Frontline Marketers".
Jeremy Bloom from Integrate provides insight on the shift from Account-Based Marketing to Precision Demand Marketing – advice on omni-channel demand strategy that no B2B leader can risk ignoring.
David Cancel from Drift talks us through our progression from the Brand and Demand Gen Eras to the Revenue Era of today, where Conversational Marketing and AI are paramount to success.
Nick Mason from Turtl sheds a light on the emotive and psychological dimensions of B2B decision-making and information processing – a seemingly intuitive yet traditionally overlooked approach.
Read on to see what each of them have to say about how to make the most of both the old and the new as we forge the path forward.
CEO – CONVERSICA
JIM KASKADE IS A SERIAL DISRUPTOR WITH OVER 20 YEARS OF CEO EXPERIENCE. STARTING OUT AS AN ENGINEER, JIM HAS SINCE CO-FOUNDED 6 COMPANIES AND LED 11, INCLUDING BUSINESSES WORTH OVER $1 BILLION (US).
Jim is known in private equity circles as a change agent who’s brought into emerging businesses with one goal: to accelerate growth.
Kaskade's CEO peers and company staff also know him as a “cultural CEO” --someone who drives growth and competitive advantage by creating high-performing teams.
Interesting fun fact: Jim loves extreme sports, including big wave surfing, off-trail skiing, and jungle trekking.
Being a GenX-er, I feel lucky to have personally straddled the Baby Boomer and upcoming GenY/Z generations, and I like to reflect on the ‘old’ vs. ‘new’ through a slightly different lens –a cultural lens.
GENERATION-X BUYER’S JOURNEY
Over the last decade, the buying power has predominantly been in the hands of “Generation X”, who came of age right when the World Wide Web launched in the ‘90s.
GenX has strong experience with both online and offline brand engagement. In fact, their preferred buyer’s journey involves a mix. For B2B marketers and sellers, this has meant turning to things like physical trade shows and face-to-face sales meetings, in addition to paid search, digital ads, paid social, online reviews, and virtual events. The way today's generation of buyers like to buy and experience brands demands nothing less.
Or so we thought.
GENERATION Y'S BUYING JOURNEY
Powered by 72% Millennials/GenY employees, I'm proud that Conversica's workforce mirrors the new buyer generation.
In an era where B2B marketers and sellers are under increasingly more pressure to leverage the exponential growth we're seeing in digital engagement between businesses and their customers, our current decade is going through a big shift in buying power and buyer expectations -- all fueled by GenY.
But let’s be honest, do you think GenY truly missed attending trade shows during 2020? The after-parties and meetings at the bar, maybe.
In the past, you created a web presence that mirrored your bricks and mortar. Today, I believe brands have to switch to a 100% online focus; the offline as a reflection of the online.
GenY buyers don't start in the store first. At best, they go into the store to finalize their thinking (and probably still complete the purchase online). Businesses have to shift to thinking about their digital presence first, and then use physical in-store presence merely as an extension of that.
B2B marketers and sellers need to become comfortable with the fact that through this approach, they will:
- learn more about their customers,
- have real-time conversations, and
- perform more transactions online, often without ever meeting buyers face-to-face.
WHICH LEADS ARE YOU STRUGGLING TO CONVERT THE MOST?
(click all that apply)
- Unengaged leads (website visitors come & go)
- Unnoticed leads (nurturing is not enough)
- Unregistered leads (event attendance is low)
- Untouched leads (follow-up is poor)
- Unqualified leads (not in your ICP)
GENERATION Z & A FULLY DIGITAL EXPERIENCE
I believe the ‘old’ methods worked well for the ‘older’ generations, but they won’t work with the upcoming ones. It's going to be even more challenging to get ready for the future era of GenZ buyers.
Everything there is to say about GenZ buyers has only been accelerated and amplified by COVID-19. What was going to be a smooth and more gradual transition to a 100% online buyer generation (GenZ) became a sudden reality for all of us in 2020.
Marketers need to be focused on everything digital, and the digital touch cannot be serviced by a traditional workforce.
Specifically, you cannot simply expand your contact centers to meet increased online demand. You also need to provide automated digital experiences that allows digital natives to complete their buyer journeys without – and in many (if not most) cases – ANY human interaction.
THE FUTURE OF WORK
I believe that companies who think they can continue to simply “throw bodies” at the problem will fail. It’s Netflix vs. Blockbuster all over again.
The technology is here to augment our workforce in a way that future-proofs our business. It's just question of whether you adopt augmented workforces or not. But now you may be asking:
What is an augmented workforce?
An augmented workforce is one that comprises humans, automation, and AI in a way that can more effectively deliver on the experiences that current and future digital-first generations expect.
Ok, I’m biased. Obviously. I’m a CEO of a company that produces artificially intelligent assistants.
I have Evie, my AI-powered EA; Liza, my digital assistant providing me live statistics on how my sales are performing; and a whole AI-based digital team working alongside my marketing, sales, and customer success teams.
Each one helps us scale revenue activities that a human-only workforce would normally struggle to manage.
TRAITS OF AN AUGMENTED WORKFORCE
For B2B marketers and sales teams, you want revenue teams that exhibit the following traits, at scale:
- Persistent (it could take 15+ attempts to get the results you want; don't just follow up once)
- Prompt (in less than a minute, vs in 9 hours)
- Personalized (100% contextual vs. templated)
- Performing (100% lead follow-up vs. 12%)
Bring on the augmented workforce
Let me be as bold to say that NO ONE has the marketing & sales capacity they actually need to properly service their customers.
If you’re researching the size of your outsourced sales development team or planning your investments for your inside sales team(s), ask yourself this:
Would you rather be Netflix or Blockbuster?
Don’t’ get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed the experience of wandering the halls of the video rental aisles, just as I love flying first class to Australia to meet a large customer prospect for 3 hours and then immediately flying back. Sadly, however, that stuff just doesn’t scale. And, frankly, they also won’t work with GenY/Z buyers.
Now, if you’re a revenue-facing team that has already bought into automation, congrats! Let me just leave you with one bit of cultural insight: If your organization is like mine (majority GenY), an augmented workforce will be welcomed. If you’re a more traditional organization, you will need leadership that sponsors a cultural shift.
Marketing and sales teams will need to change their mindsets on what they want their digital team members to focus on versus, or shall I say alongside their human counterparts.
Personally, I like spending the time that my digital team saves for me by browsing through movies to watch with my family, paired with a fabulous dinner.
Bring on the augmented workforce.
WHERE DO YOU STRUGGLE MOST IN TERMS OF SCALE?
(click all that apply)
- Getting enough marketing qualified leads/accounts
- Booking meetings with those who fit in our Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
- Securing enough sales qualified opportunities
- Aligning and streamlining our marketing & sales cycles
Etai’s reputation is one of a thoughtful, steady, and decisive leader with a mission to build a sustainable model for marketing and sales to work hand in hand.
He has spent many years managing and coaching others within rapidly evolving markets, grounding himself in thorough and technical knowledge at the intersection of product and field.
WITH OVER 20 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AS A LEADER IN THE HI-TECH INDUSTRY, FOLLOZE CEO ETAI BECK HAS A TRACK RECORD OF SUCCESS WITH BUILDING AND SELLING START-UPS, TRANSFORMING THEM INTO NOTABLE COMPANIES, AND SPEARHEADING STRATEGIC PRODUCT AND GO-TO-MARKET INITIATIVES AT SCALE.
FROM ETAI BECK'S POINT OF VIEW
In a digital-first marketplace, marketing has a once in a lifetime opportunity to lead and put buyers first.
Yet, successfully executing against a buyer experience mandate requires a new operational model led by the "Frontline Marketer."
We live in the disconnected
Over the past decade, B2B buying behavior has been in a state of evolution. Fueled by mobile connectivity and easy access to information and insights, B2B buyers have become highly discerning. They want to control their own buying journeys and will pay a premium for a great customer experience.
Consistently setting the bar higher overall, B2B buyers increasingly expect nothing less than dynamic experiences that are connected, contextual and relevant.
The B2B world of today lives squarely within the Experience Era, reflecting many of the same attributes from the B2C world.
Just consider the B2B equivalent of consumer experiences such as DoorDash, Airbnb, Uber, or Starbucks.
Despite the massive proliferation of digital technology, B2B vendors have not kept pace with their B2C counterparts. As a result, vendors have lost control over a buying journey that has become incredibly complex and unpredictable.
For the B2B buyer, this shortfall has created a disconnected, messy, and very frustrating experience.
If vendors want to elevate their buyers' experiences, they must know how to use more data-driven and personalized content and messaging.
Tailoring your marketing and selling efforts to your buyers' preferences, history, and needs, not to mention their specific position(s) within their buying journey, will be key.
FROM ETAI BECK'S POINT OF VIEW
The COVID-19 Catalyst
Shockingly, many B2B brands have not felt a sense of urgency to address their shortfalls. They still rely upon an old-school mindset defined by marketing automation and top-of-the-funnel practices.
The result? Low conversion rates. High customer acquisition costs. Anemic pipeline. Frustrated customers. High churn rates.
Many of the current B2B challenges reflect a very challenging legacy environment – with well-entrenched challenges at that – that vendors have failed to address over the years.
Specifically, most revenue teams are composed of data and organizational silos, under-developed digital skillsets, bolt-on marketing automation technologies, and static web experiences that are a poor and generic substitutes for delivering truly personalized experiences at scale.
A Shot at Redemption
It's also worth noting that the nature of B2B buying and selling is far more complex than the B2C world.
Specifically, B2B marketing and revenue teams must manage more buyers, decision-makers, and buying centers, which altogether mean longer and more unpredictable sales cycles.
By kicking the can down the road and not addressing longstanding challenges, B2B vendors were unprepared for the digital tsunami that struck during the COVID-19 crisis.
Fortunately, the pandemic in early 2020 lit a fire under the butts of B2B vendors, giving marketing and revenue teams one last shot at redemption.
FROM ETAI BECK'S POINT OF VIEW
Marketing's New Mandate and the Rise of the Frontline Marketer
Overnight, B2B buying and selling changed forever, and there's no turning back. COVID-19 accelerated digital selling and upended long-held beliefs about the need for in-person meetings and traditional GTM motions.
In a digital-first marketplace, buyers prefer to guide their education and discovery through digital self-service and online channels, often without consulting a sales rep through the entire purchase process.
The COVID-19 catalyst set three irreversible trends into motion:
- In a digital-first marketplace, marketing teams are elevated and become architects of the buyer experience across the entire journey.
A recent Folloze-Demand Gen Report survey found that 50% of marketing teams expect a new hybrid GTM model where marketing takes the lead on digitizing the entire lead-to-revenue cycle with support from the direct sales team.
- A digital-first mandate shines the spotlight on customer-facing – or frontline – marketers in the field. These "frontline marketers" know what their buyers want and how to build data-driven, revenue-generating, and omni-channel experiences.
These frontline teams are autonomous, leveraging a no-code environment to execute with agility and precision. Through insightful analytics, frontline marketers will close the loop and drive revenue growth.
- A modern B2B GTM will finally resolve many of the longstanding sales and marketing collaboration issues.
Imagine your revenue team built in pods of marketers and sellers working together to architect and deliver full-cycle journeys with precision and impact.
Through insightful analytics, frontline marketers will close the loop and drive revenue growth.
Marketing's Big Moment
Today, marketing teams can no longer drive predictable growth leveraging the same technology, linear funnels, and operational processes of the past.
The Folloze-Demand Gen Report research found that only 25% of marketers felt prepared and could effectively deliver engaging digital experiences across the entire customer lifecycle. Marketing must move fast and evolve, or perish.
Folloze is working with top B2B brands to rethink their GTM strategies with a journey and buyer-centric mindset – all supported with a modern operational model and MarTech stack.
Led by frontline marketers, Folloze is helping companies embrace a next-gen operating model that combines the best of both worlds: the activation of customer data and the automated delivery of personalized experiences with high-value human engagement.
This is marketing's big moment to shine, and I'm confident that we will embrace our elevated mandate and lead the next chapter of B2B buying and selling.
CEO — INTEGRATE
JEREMY BLOOM IS THE FOUNDER AND CEO OF B2B ENTERPRISE SAAS COMPANY INTEGRATE. SINCE FOUNDING IT IN 2010, MR. BLOOM AND HIS TEAM HAVE RAISED MORE THAN $50 MILLION IN FUNDING AND TODAY, INTEGRATE HAS OVER 500 CUSTOMERS WORLDWIDE. HE IS ALSO THE FOUNDER OF WISH OF A LIFETIME, A 501(C)3 NONPROFIT THAT GRANTS WISHES TO THE ELDERLY AND A BOARD OF DIRECTOR AT THE US SKI AND SNOWBOARDING ASSOCIATION.
He completed a business entrepreneurship at Wharton, was included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list for tech innovation, and in 2013 he was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
In addition to his professional life, Mr. Bloom is a talented multi-sport athlete.
He is a three-time World Champion, two-time Olympian, eleven-time World Cup gold medalist and a member of the United States Skiing Hall of Fame.
In 2006, Mr. Bloom became the only athlete in history to ski in the Olympics and also be drafted into the National Football League.
He was also an All-American football player at the University of Colorado and played professional football as a wide receiver and return specialist for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
FROM JEREMY'S POINT OF VIEW
B2B's changing buying process
is what's driving marketing strategy.
For the past half decade, ABM has been the buzzword amongst marketers. It's time to think differently. ABM is not enough in today's digital-first world.
ABM upended how we thought about demand marketing by shifting from an individual level to an account level. It gave us a more focused and bigger-picture view for how to target, engage and convert the accounts that are most likely to become customers.
But 2020 marked a turning point for B2B marketing. The global pandemic forced a digital awakening as buyers shifted where they work, how they consume content, how they want to engage, and how they research, evaluate and make purchase decisions.
While ABM is in many ways “just good, focused B2B marketing”, B2B teams are realising that ABM alone simply isn’t enough for marketing to push past the top of the funnel and contribute to pipeline and revenue.
Most importantly, we have learned that ABM as a single strategy ignores the prospects and accounts that are ideal customer profiles (ICPs), but not part of your ABM effort.
FROM JEREMY'S POINT OF VIEW
B2B marketers are learning to adapt to the new ways in which buyers and accounts are researching, identifying solutions and making decisions. With rapid change and global uncertainty forcing more digital and distributed decision-making across geographies, the buying process today is more complex than ever. And the accounts on your wish list may not be in market. In fact:
- The number of touches in a buyers’ journey increases to from 17-20 to 22-25.1
- More buyers are involved in the decision, growing from 6-10 to 12-18, on average.1
- Only 15% maximum of companies are in market at any one time.2
These changes call for a more efficient, precise approach to market, ensuring your budget and resources are both effective and efficient at identifying opportunities; generating pipeline; and contributing to new and expanded revenue.
We must go beyond traditional demand gen and beyond ABM. To be sure, ABM is a smart approach that's part of your demand and revenue marketing effort. But ABM alone falls short. Because today, while many marketers deploy single-channel ABM strategies, not all markets require an account-based approach.
IS YOUR ORG. READY TO MOVE BEYOND ABM?
- We're still exploring and have a long way to go.
- We make use of ABM and I don't know what's "beyond" yet, but I want to find out!
- ABM works like a charm for us; I'm going to need convincing.
- 100%. We're either already there or getting to it!
We need to meet buyers where they are and when they want; in the right channels, with the right message, at the right time. We need more flexibility to adapt strategies and tactics that better align with buyers from accounts that are both in market and right for your solutions.
The bottom line is: Marketing’s effort needs to be more precise, more connected, and more agile to deliver against not only today’s shifting buyer needs, but also the dynamic needs of your own organisation.
To deliver on this mandate now, B2B marketers need to be able to:
- identify both known and unknown buyers;
- ensure quality and compliant prospect and customer data;
- activate campaigns across the channels that buyers rely on; and
- measure ROI per channel and cross channel.
And it's this convergence of ABM and demand generation that we call Precision Demand Marketing.
1Sirius Decisions, 2020
2Bombora Surge Data, 2020
FROM JEREMY'S POINT OF VIEW
At Integrate, we are building this next chapter of Precision Demand Marketing.
Our mission is to connect everything –data, channels, tech, team members– to create more intelligent buyer and account journeys.
We help marketers drive omni-channel demand strategy; convert leads
to revenue; and demonstrate marketing return on investment.
Ultimately, Integrate provides marketers an account-based approach across all marketing channels.
We help you reach and convert buyers from those accounts you’ve already identified, and on top of that we connect you to a unique inventory of new buyers from accounts you have yet to identify.
Every lead we generate is validated, compliant, and governed for the highest quality. With cross-channel analytics, marketers can have the visibility they need to make informed data-driven decisions, ensuring they are in market with the right message at the right time for the right buyer.
The next chapter of B2B Marketing is Precision
DAVID CANCEL IS A SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR (FIVE-TIME FOUNDER), TWO-TIME CEO, HOST OF THE SEEKING WISDOM PODCAST, ENTREPRENEUR-IN-RESIDENCE AT HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL, AND HAS AN ENVIABLE TRACK RECORD AS AN INVESTOR/ADVISOR TO COMPANIES LIKE BIGCOMMERCE, KLAVIYO AND SUPERHUMAN.
David is best known for creating hypergrowth products and product teams at companies such as Drift, HubSpot, Performable, Ghostery and Compete. He was named one of the top-ranked CEOs by USA Today and has been featured by media outlets including The New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, Wired, and Fast Company.
David has guest lectured on entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management, Bentley, and other universities, and is also the author of the best-selling book, Conversational Marketing.
FROM DAVID'S POINT OF VIEW
2020 accelerated digital transformation by ten years, and a new era of marketing is here. So how did we get here? We need to look back at the three eras of marketing.
THE BRAND ERA:
The first era was the Brand Era. The Brand Era was pre-internet. Marketing was in service of the CEO, reliant on agencies, focused on brand and PR, and measured by press mentions and “buzz.” Driving revenue was certainly a goal, but demonstrating ROI on brand campaigns was difficult at best, impossible at worst.
THE DEMAND GEN
The shift between the first and second era was then brought on by the advent of the internet. During the Demand Gen Era, the old technology paradigm was updated for the “cloud,” and marketers were reliant on do-it-yourself and human operations.
During this time, the CMO role gained a seat at the table, marketing organisations marketed to prospects and were measured by leads.
Whereas marketers in the Brand Era were in service to the CEO, marketers in this era were in service of the Chief Revenue Officer.
THE REVENUE ERA: 2020+
We are now in the Revenue Era. Everyone is online, everyone is a buyer, and whoever provides the best experience wins. To succeed here, marketing and sales teams need to come together to demonstrate their ability to drive not just leads, but lifetime revenue. And marketers are no longer in service to the CEO or the CRO, they’re in service to the customer.
2020 accelerated digital transformation by ten years. Now a new era of marketing is here.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE WAY YOUR MARKETING AND SALES TEAMS RESPOND TO YOUR BUYERS?
- The teams are aligned; we respond and adapt to our buyers' needs quickly and effectively.
- We need to improve our processes; opportunities often fall through the cracks.
- The teams are not aligned at all; it's a major sore spot.
FROM DAVID'S POINT OF VIEW
In the old world, marketing and sales teams shared different goals: Marketing was responsible for driving leads and sales was responsible for bookings, but both would struggle in their own silos.
The resulting misalignment created a bad customer experience that was harmful to the business. With marketing focused on leads and sales focused on bookings, both teams failed to deliver what really matters: customer experience and revenue.
B2B buyers have come to expect the same buying experience they have as consumers -- and they’re tired of businesses being slow, or unavailable to respond. Beyond that, 70-80% of seller’s interactions are now digital, and the majority of ways sales used to hit their number simply don’t exist anymore. The “field” for sellers is now the website. Marketing and sales must come together to deliver a new experience for buyers. One that is real-time, personalized and human.
FROM DAVID'S POINT OF VIEW
There are three opportunities to seize in the Revenue Era:
Bring marketing and sales together once and for all.
Connect revenue teams directly to buyers.
Communicate with buyers in real time on the website.
Part of the problem with all of the rich data stored in marketing automation platforms and CRMs is that marketing isn’t able to action it in a way that is helpful to both your sales team and the buyer in real-time. We can help solve that.
With Conversational Marketing and Conversational Sales, you can bring all of your siloed data together into one platform.
Now, your website becomes the single touchpoint for customers and your team. Buyers and sellers can communicate live to get prospects the answers they need quickly, which speeds up the entire buyer journey and accelerates revenue. What's more, if a member of your team isn't available, Drift's patented AI technology steps into help with chatbots that converse like your very best reps.
Event-based AI chat systems like Drift drive the prospect by being helpful but also by asking qualifying questions to determine if the visitor is not just marketing ready, but truly sales ready.
When AI has qualified the lead, the correct seller can either be connected to the visitor in real time or the bot can schedule a meeting. This way, sales is finally supported with sales qualified leads (SQL) that come from marketing.
This experience solves marketing’s problem of being able to tie digital experiences to revenue, meeting the buyer in real-time, and giving sales a more effective way to leverage the website in the new digital world.
We believe that the stakes are high for the Revenue Era. And that the winners will emerge with amazing customer experience, more revenue & lower costs, and faster sales cycles.
Finally, for the first time ever, true marketing and sales alignment where impact on revenue is the center of the conversation.
NICK MASON CO-FOUNDED TURTL IN 2015 FOLLOWING TIME SPENT WORKING WITH THE MEDICAL SCIENCE DIVISION OF OXFORD UNIVERSITY WHERE HE BECAME FASCINATED WITH PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH INTO HOW OUR BRAINS READ AND RETAIN INFORMATION.
From a bootstrapped company operating out of Nick's bedroom, Turtl is now used worldwide by hundreds of large enterprises including the likes of Cisco, Bloomberg, Baker McKenzie, Lexus and Nestlé to provide content which is proven to be 73% more engaging and 71% more memorable.
Prior to Turtl, Nick ran his own product consultancy business and delivered projects for companies including LexisNexis, RCGP, The National Lottery and the University of Oxford.
FROM NICK'S POINT OF VIEW
In my view, the ‘old world’ of B2B marketing is characterised by an over-focus on appealing to the analytical side of the brain, and not enough focus on the emotive side.
In other words, B2B marketing has tended to view the customer as only lacking the relevant facts and evidence to make their decision. The reality, however, is that this isn't how humans make decisions; emotive factors are far more important in the B2B decision making process than in the B2C process. As such, ‘old world’ B2B marketing has potentially neglected the precise tools and approaches that can have the biggest impacts.
We are far more likely to agree with an argument if it is presented visually.
DOES YOUR COMPANY ACTIVELY INCORPORATE PSYCHOLOGICAL INFLUENCES IN ITS MARKETING AND SALES OPERATIONS?
- We don't go out of our way to account for it, but we should.
- Sometimes we make the effort, but not regularly and mostly as an after-thought (secondary to "harder data" and analytics).
- Absolutely. We even have experts in buyer psychology.
FROM NICK'S POINT OF VIEW
The problem with the 'traditional' approach to B2B marketing is that as decisions become more complex and harder to analyse, humans tend to rely more on emotive decision-making strategies and less on analytical evidence.
Although somewhat counter-intuitive, this actually makes good sense. B2B decisions typically involve so many parameters and possible outcomes (both good and bad) that we cannot arrive at a comfortable decision through analysis alone.
Moreover, there are typically critical elements at play in these decisions which cannot be navigated through analysis alone, such as company politics, historical successes and failures within the company and an individual’s personal objectives and ambitions.
Because of this inherent complexity and importance embedded within the B2B decision-making process, we lean towards emotive decision-making strategies.
Do we trust the brand? Have we heard good things in the market? Does the brand share our values? This is well demonstrated by the famous notion that “No one ever got fired for choosing IBM” – an incredibly powerful statement which causes buyers to look past facts, stats, numbers and any kind of quantitative analysis to what really matters, namely that IBM will not let you down and you will not regret your decision.
For these reasons, ‘old world’ B2B marketing which over-obsessed on data and hard evidence missed significant opportunities to persuade on an emotive level.
That’s not to say this kind of marketing failed in any sense, more that it did not take full advantage of what we know about the human decision-making process.
B2B marketers should place more emphasis on the emotive side of decision making to have a bigger impact and find more effective ways to persuade their audiences.
FROM NICK'S POINT OF VIEW
B2B marketing should absolutely not lose the analytical, evidence-based element that it has historically been so proficient in. This is critical in satisfying the needs of analytical side of the brain, particularly during the latter stages of consideration.
What B2B marketers should do, however, is to try to place more emphasis on the emotive side of decisionmaking. By considering prospects as relationships to be formed, rather than as students to be educated, marketers can have a bigger impact and find more effective ways to persuade their audiences to their advantage.
Turtl helps balance the analytical and emotive elements of content creation, ultimately enabling brands to more easily take
advantage of both of those levers across their buyers' decision-making process.
Our personalisation and analytics features can then be used to narrow in on the content that specific audiences want to read --to continue to deepen client relationships, drive better customer experiences overall, and ultimately drive more revenue.
WHERE DO WE
GO FROM HERE?
It's that time of the day again. The sky paints itself with a new colour palette, a transition from day to night. You look away for just a moment, maybe to grab a cup of tea or flick through the news on your phone, before looking up and out at the horizon again. But just like that, you miss it; the sun has already set, and night has fallen.
This is how life often happens.
We go about our days, doing whatever it is we’re doing. And then, “all of a sudden”, things are different. New shoes turn worn, fresh paint becomes faded, plump skin makes room for a wrinkle. And one year, a year that somehow feels like a lifetime, flashes by in a blink.
If there’s anything we ought to learn about change it’s that although it can certainly take away, change can also provide.
In the world of B2B marketing and sales in particular, we face rapid change in all facets of our commercial operations — our targeting and segmentation strategies; conversational marketing and sales processes; content management; and all the other systems related to data and analytics.
Change doesn’t always happen as we want it or when we want it. Against our will, it can dismantle – even destroy. The best we can do about it is to focus on what we do have control over: how we set ourselves and our systems or processes up to be adaptable, resilient, and agile enough to withstand (and perhaps even thrive upon) unexpected and unwanted change.
It's difficult to keep up with it all, let alone to champion through. But there is a way to take the old with the unavoidable new and blend them together to create something better than we’ve ever seen.
The question is, how?
To answer this question, we've turned to a handful of CEOs who have each exemplified what it means to discover opportunity in the face of change and use it to forge better paths forward.
AND IT DOESN'T STOP THERE.
I hope you've enjoyed everything you've flipped through so far.
At LeadFabric we're thrilled that we get to work with the leading edge industry players like Integrate, Drift and Turtl as strategic business partners. I know that through collaboration, technology and visionary thinking we've got one hell of an exciting future to shape and look forward to.
And if you liked this piece so far, buckle up! We're constantly weaving ideas and insights together (from conventional wisdom to challenger vision and beyond), and with this piece alone there's a lot more coming.
The second wave of The Shift of B2B Marketing in 2021: The CEOs Weigh In features heaps more thoughts and advice from a handful of other surprise CEOs. We hope you're as excited to read it as much as we are to be sharing it with you soon.
Koen De Witte
Managing Director, LeadFabric