Content and technology influences B2B marketingInterview
Sean GeehanAuthor, CEO & Founder-Geehan Group
In this interview with Sean Geehan, Author, Speaker, CEO & Founder of Geehan Group, we will talk about some key challenges faced by B2B marketers in this changing and rapidly evolving marketplace, and how they can maximize their investment and gain a competitive edge over their rivals.
REGALIX: How do you think the B2B landscape has evolved over the last few years, and what role has technology played in changing this marketing landscape?
SG: Today, everybody expects the Amazon experience. It’s not about who your competitor is; what matters most is replicating the experience one gets through a company like Amazon. Hence, technology is 95% of what’s driving it. It has virtually changed how we market, have relationships, and deliver a better customer experience.
REGALIX: What digital marketing challenges are unique to B2B companies?
SG: A smaller set of customers contribute towards the majority of your revenue. So, you need to make sure that you get it right. Not only do you need to know how to leverage technology where you need it, but also how to keep it personal where it needs to be. You need to know your customers well to be successful. So while technology can help, you just can’t leave the personal side out.
REGALIX: What is the best way to prioritize your B2B marketing mix for 2014?
SG: Start with your customer, learn what’s important to them, how they want the information, and how you can stay relevant. Different people have different preferences – some might want a face-to-face meeting, for others, just a mail might work. Don’t get too enamored by the tools. Focus on what the customer wants and use technology to get that to them. Take advantage of the tools to give them the information faster and to display it the way they want, but make sure that the information you give is relevant and provides more value to the customer.
REGALIX: In your opinion, then, how is technology shaping the relationship between B2B and their agencies?
SG: Well, I think technology allows them to interact with customers, respond to their queries and provide support in a more timely fashion. It increases the level of efficiency and effectiveness in the equation. For e.g. Amazon captures all the customer details during the first transaction, so they don’t have to enter the details every time they make a purchase. The system automatically pulls it from the database, making the process faster and easier. So, that’s the kind of technology you should use, one that benefits the customer.
REGALIX: As mentioned by you, personalization is big right now. B2C brands want to have that one to one relationship with customers. How does that work in B2B?
SG: Well, I think it’s always been that way, and the expectation will remain the same. That has been the standard in B2B in most cases. So, if a few of your customers represent 60-70% of your revenue, you are looking at a one-to-one relationship. You have to know the industry and the people buying your product. That hasn’t changed. The tools are merely a way to do it more efficiently and effectively.
REGALIX: Companies that are in search of business growth with limited resources can often close part of the gap with tools. What kind of tools do you recommend for B2B marketers or marketers in general, to get more of the online content or social media investments?
SG: Find a way to present the information the way the customers like. Prioritize. Don’t try to do everything at the same time. Figure out what is it that they want and try doing little things, one at a time. Ensure that the experience they get is consistent, so they don’t get frustrated and go away. Because, once they do, it’s difficult to get them back.
REGALIX: What is the biggest challenge the marketing industry is facing in 2014, and how can B2B marketers prepare themselves for that?
SG: I think the biggest challenge for the marketers is ROI – the dollars that you invest, are they going to be spent on retaining customers or increasing the customer base in a profitable way. So, the marketers need to understand and look at things from the leadership team’s perspective. They need to show the stakeholders what they would get out of every dollar they invest. If you can do that, you can separate yourself from the majority of marketers.
REGALIX: Which global B2B companies have got their marketing formula right, and why do you think so?
SG: Well, I think there are two companies that have done extremely well in the last five years. One is AmerisourceBergen and the other is HCL. Both companies have grown aggressively and extended their margins by leveraging personal relationships that B2B require, and leveraging technology to get information to their clients in the right way. It’s interesting that when you think of big household brands, they’re all B2C; while nobody knows of AmerisourceBergen, which ranks 17 on the list of Fortune 500 companies. So, why is that company never heard of? That’s because it only cares about 5000 people, globally, who have the opportunity to buy its products and services.