Taking a human-centered view of the buyer, the customer and the customer’s customer, and learning about their journey to find new ways to engage them through emerging touch points is becoming table stakes for B2B marketers in today’s digital age.
The B2B Marketing Exchange kicked off with a keynote presentation from Brian Solis, Author and Analyst at the Altimeter Group titled: Humanizing The B2B Decision-Making Journey, where he emphasized the importance of learning about your customer’s journeys and catering to them through experiences and messaging that can resonate and evolve with them.
“In 2018, a lot of what I see out there is not only promising, it’s groundbreaking,” said Solis. “We are on the frontline of a complete revolution in marketing automation. Everything is changing because people see the opportunity to do things differently. It’s about reinventing every aspect of how a company engages customers — it’s the complete journey externally and internally.”
Marketers oftentimes forget that there are people behind the brand or company they are targeting, and it’s crucial to consider their interests, challenges and feelings. What do they go through? What are their struggles? “We have to start by changing the area of which we work and influence every single day we go to the office. Because of data, we’re still operating in this paradigm of metrics, budgets and points of view of what marketing is supposed to be. That’s going to change.”
Outside Experiences Affect Buying Journeys
In addition, regardless of what industry they live or work in, marketers are competing with companies such and Uber and Tinder, according to Solis. As buyers experience these brands and get used to their unique websites, mobile apps, messaging and content, they expect — and even demand — the same type of experiences when their making purchase decisions.
“[Uber and Tinder] deliver experience standards and expectations that effect everything marketers do,” said Solis. “They don’t go to work and forget what they do as humans.”
To design more meaningful engagement opportunities, Solis said the more successful companies are focusing on understanding customers’ evolving behaviors and preferences. He also added that it’s about looking at integrating the journey where marketing becomes part of the experience team.
The Move To Mobile
As buyers become more connected through their mobile devices, they also become more impatient and practiced in searching and communication. “When you become more connected, you are more informed, empowered and impatient,” said Solis.
When describing the new normal for businesses, Solis added, “’Business as usual’ is an outdated mindset. Modern customers are connected and empowered. They want things now and personalized in the moments that matter how they communicate, discover and connect.”
Mobile has changed everything. According to Solis, people look at their phones 1,500 times each week. They spend 177 minutes on their phone per day. This new reality has turned people into digital narcissists, a.k.a. Generation-C (connected).
The P2P Marketing Innovation Manifesto
Solis closed out the keynote session with his Marketing Innovation Manifesto, a list of strategies for marketers looking to drive innovation with a human centered view of the buyer:
- Human-Centered Design: Unbiased data to learn. Who are your unique audiences? How do they talk? What do they value? What are their immediate and longer-term challenges? What are their goals/aspirations?
- Learn Intent + Context: Learn the questions they ask, who they trust, where they go and understand devices/times/preferences/attention.
- The Hero’s Journey: Redraw their lifecycle journey and identify key moments of engagement – design for mobile-first engagement.
- Marketing as a Service: Beyond sales and account management, partner with key stakeholder groups to positively affect the entire journey and relationships.
- Imagineer P.O.P.E.S.: Prioritize content dev/campaigns across the journey (video, podcasts, articles, graphics).
- Scale Personalization and Value: Invest in programmatic, AI platforms that deliver personalization (right time, right place, right message, right device.)
- Influence 2.0: Partner with trusted authorities to collaborate on the creation and delivery of useful, engaging content.
- Community Engagement: Assign staff and ambassadors to engage the front line and incentivize reward their ongoing efforts.
- Employee Advocacy: Partner with internal authorities to empower employees to more effectively engage customers and each other.
- Marketing2: Report results, progress and learnings to all stakeholder groups.
- (BONUS) P2P2P: Help customers better engage their customers.