Adrian McDermott November 8, 2012
There is no question that cross-channel marketing is essential to make the most of social media and mobile to reach and touch consumers. But how important is it for B2B markets? Depending on the sector, somewhere between important and very important, I would say:
- Web 2.0 technologies are becoming more widely used. They make difficult communication problems (group functionality, interactivity, mixing media, live content) easy. The technologies are as applicable in the enterprise arena as in the consumer space.
- The scale of online transactions. In the US, in 2011, the value of B2B transactions was almost twice that of B2C transactions reported in the 2010 census. (US government data quoted by Oracle, B2B Cross-Channel Commerce; Complexity, consumerization, and change).
- Buyers like to be in control. People are used to the efficiency of the online purchases process, where product selections and related reading content, including third party recommendations or referrals, dynamically present themselves depending on menu selections. Static presentation via catalogs and static pages of content that are all from the vendor are likely to become more irritating as they take more time and often do not answer the question in the buyer’s mind.
- The growth of social tools in the B2B space, from the widely adopted (blogs, webinars, customer forums, Twitter) to the up-and-coming (customer communities, innovation platforms, crowdsourcing solutions) means companies have to adapt to customers’ preferred style of interaction.
- Social media solutions can bring greater stakeholder participation, for example in innovation, support and market research, and thereby increasing involvement, satisfaction and product and marketing innovation.
The problem is complexity: sales may require several steps and buyers, and international markets add the complication of currency, language and culture. There is also the question of confusing customers or employees by multiplying channels. The opposite problem is depriving customers and staff of channels of communication that fit personal preference or communication needs.
The cost-benefit ratio of more channels vs. more communication also depends a lot on your (current or planned) cross-channel management software. Perhaps asking a few questions about that is a good place to start when assessing how many channels to get involved in.
Ralf Haller January 2, 2009
Ok, here now is my very own list of what I think will work in product marketing, PR and business development in 2009 in IT and Communications markets (ICT), and what will not work (or at least not very well). While I do not like year-end lists, they do create the opportunity to summarize current thoughts. Actually, I could have written exactly the same list in September, October or any other month this year:
- Online PR and online/digital marketing: it’s time to realize the media world has changed for good. It happened some time ago in the USA (otherwise we would probably have Hillary Clinton as President-Elect), and it’s changing fast in Europe. In the UK, the Queen broadcast her Christmas speech on YouTube for the second year now, so it’s not about being trendy! Going online creates reach, efficiency, measurability, and cost savings.
- Top quality content: we have seen lots of me-too type PR and product marketing spending in the past. Things like, “I must have a high-level 4-color company brochure as a print out for trade shows”, “I need to hire a PR agency to deliver me monthly media clips to show our news releases have been published”, “I must include some of the latest phrases that industry analysts and competitors are using”. But “me-too” just doesn’t offer return on your spending. Instead of meaningless industry buzzwords you need content and design that reflect who you are and mark you out as different and better.
- Webinars and company-focused events: Apple and Cisco are showing the direction by announcing that they are to have no more CES and Macworld presence but instead will invest into more focused customer events. Also here the online world will play a much more important role. It always looked idiotic to me to have an army of bloggers sitting in a cramped venue listening to Steve Jobs’s keynote speech and writing down every single statement and posting it live onto their blog sites. Why not do this all on the web to start with, guys?
- Industry buzzwords: we came up with a tool that shows the buzzwords used in texts. Admittedly we found quite a few on our very own websites as well. It is simply too tempting to repeat what you have heard again and again, often produced by PR agencies who repeat the language from other press releases. They do this instead of trying to communicate market and technology details they don’t quite understand. The result is press releases that sound the same regardless of which company they are written for. Replace the company name and the product names and they could easily be exchanged between each industry player. Try that game yourself with your press releases and you will see it!
- Trade shows: in the last few years when I walked across some tradeshows I often felt sorry for the many sales and marketing people standing at a booth and talking to everybody, including me, trying to catch the business card and maybe even a big fish to do business with. Also, some of the tradeshows had fewer and fewer visitors, such as CeBIT or Systems, and lacked focus. Money spent on such “we-too-have-to-have-a-presence events” will be less and we will also all save money by not having to travel there any more.
- Press releases: much of the press is already not reading press releases any more, and even get annoyed if you send releases to them directly, so why not save that money altogether and be your own journalist, writing blogs and what we call news releases. They can subscribe to these then with RSS readers and pull in whatever you say that is truly of interest to them. Hint: that does NOT mean a press release saying that you will attend the next industry event and your booth can be found at booth number…