13/05/2022No Comments

Asking the big questions

Debate: is the B2B/B2C distinction collapsing?

B2B versus B2C. Sound familiar? It’s an age-old distinction marketers have been arguing about for years. yawn, right?

Business-to-consumer marketing has always been the cool kid at the party. With business-to-business marketing being the less glamorous cousin sitting in the corner. And people still seem to accept that.

But we like to ask questions. Interesting ones.

Like is the gap between B2B and B2C becoming, well, less of a gap? Does B2B have a legitimate space on TikTok? Why are we so obsessed with a funnel?

These are all topics of conversation featured in a recent debate organised by The Drum. And our managing partner, Eoin Rodgers, was only too happy to take part.

Along with several other B2Bers (all experts in this industry), Eoin examined the real difference between B2B and B2C. And what that means for marketers.

Now, the write-up of the debate is available. It’s a cracking read, and – we’d go as far as to say – essential reading for marketers everywhere.

Visit this page to see what our Eoin (and the other panellists) had to say. No yawns – promise.

The Drum US | Marketing, Advertising, Design And Digital News

06/01/2021No Comments

On the minds of B2B agencies – globally

I was delighted and honoured to be asked by John Harris, President & CEO of Worldwide Partners to moderate a panel discussion at our bi-annual Partner Summit.

For those of you who don’t already know, Worldwide partners is our network of over 70 independent agencies operating in 40 countries. This year our Partner Summit was completely virtual – a challenge deftly handled by a talented tech team and delegates from our member agencies who love to collaborate, share and learn together.

We called out to our partners to name the topics that were pertinent to them right now, with what is going on in the world. We heard about elections, Brexit, COVID testing and the lack of international travel – but we also got some ideas for B2B marketing topics to discuss together too.

I thought it might make an interesting snapshot blog if I recount to you the topics on the minds of our member agencies across the globe.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation seems to have taken over as the buzz term of the day – year even. Second only to dreaded COVID-19 and in part, fuelled by it.

There’s transformation in the way we go to market, serve customers, engage prospects and I think every marketer feels they’re on that journey. Some have been for a while and some have been forced to digitally transform because their physical world just got a shake-up.

The other side for us in B2B and specifically at TMW Business is the way businesses operate. As an IT & Tech agency, we see almost all our tech clients aligning their corporate narratives to digital transformation because quite frankly it’s gone from a trend to imperative.

"One does not become transformed."

The discussion panel talked about the ‘fluffiness’ of the trend and how everything from WFH tech to app development, cloud migration, automation and live-chat has been heralded as digital transformation.

We talked about how digital transformation is not a destination “one does not become transformed.” Transformation is a process, a journey and potentially one that will be ongoing rather than ever finally complete.

Events: from physical to virtual

How could we avoid the follow-on topic of events: now there’s an industry that has been forced to digitally transform if ever I saw one!

When the world as we knew it shut down, events got cancelled and everyone flocked to create digital events. Marketers the world over punctuate their calendars with trade shows, seminars, conferences and show & tell events. But it seems like there’s a bit of digital event fatigue setting in. The hype and intrigue have faded and people are getting more and more virtual event invites. How do we keep it fresh and drive better engagement?

The conversation took us to the topic of personalisation. Core to the idea of event attendance is relevance. You’re only going to sign up if the content, speakers and engagement opportunity are highly relevant. And when delivering an “event” at scale, that calls for personalisation.

"It was fun to be nostalgic as we sat – looking at a screen full of faces looking at screens."

We also touched on the notion that some physical interactions are best not replicated in the digital world. Some experiences call for AR and VR to support that hands-on experience, a rich and immersive way to engage in products, demos, samples etc.

On the other hand, we talked about a yearning for a return to the analogue - how some of the more traditional engagements like good old-fashioned phone calls, socially-distanced sales meetings, site visits and face-to-face charm. It might be a while until that is possible again, but it was fun to be nostalgic as we sat – looking at a screen full of faces, looking at screens.

Account Based Marketing

A beautiful segue from the personalisation topic took us to the next: Account Based Marketing.

In the B2B world, we’ve been talking and talking about ABM for years now. The darling of B2B marketing, everyone’s talking about it and it is certainly the fashionable thing to be doing. But we joked about every marketing campaign now coming under the banner of ABM. The slightest sniff of targeting, personalisation or insight makes a campaign ABM it would seem!

"Adopting the principles of ABM – even at scale, is certainly better than the more traditional ‘spray-and-pray’ marketing campaigns that happen otherwise."

Laughable maybe, but adopting the principles of ABM – even at scale, is certainly better than the more traditional ‘spray-and-pray’ marketing campaigns that happen otherwise.

We acknowledged that few companies are willing to ‘put all their eggs in one basket’ and adopt strategic ABM where the focus would be on just one of few ‘big bets.’ Instead, more are opting to spread the risk in something more like ‘ABM-lite’ where clustering like-minded, like-challenged or just alike organisations together brings economies of scale. This means they can be targeted in a semi-personalised way for deeper relevance, smaller target audiences and better engagement.

The MarTech stack

Our final topic of the day was that of marketing automation, CRM and all things marketing technology.

Many brands have spent hundreds of thousands on their tech stack to get better at capturing attention, converting leads and driving customer engagement, but is it working? ‘Using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut’ comes to mind - in this case, is using a very sophisticated and expensive tool to do something simple and somewhat rudimentary.

“Using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut” comes to mind

We discussed the inhibitors to getting better ‘bang-for-buck’ when it comes to tech investment.

Data was the biggest barrier: the availability of it, the format and usability of it as well as the compliance of it. Data is one of the requirements for these marketing tech solutions to function. You can’t automate marketing that you don’t have. Some organisations have spent years capturing, holding and sorting data to enable them to get closer to their customers and prospects. They’re the ones that’ll be able to actually do the exciting things the martech vendors sold: propensity modelling, predictive lead scoring, behavioural actions, intent monitoring, proper attribution - and the rest!

AI was brought to the table as the next wave of martech investment. Lots of platforms are injecting AI capability into their tools: ways to make smart decisions, faster and at scale. From the successes we shared, it’s clear automation and AI are here right now. Hopefully they’re not eyeing up our human-occupied marketing roles just yet though!

All-in-all the panel discussion whipped past in the blink of an eye, each of the topics deserving of more time and focus.

It was interesting and cathartic to hear of similar experiences from our agency partners in countries as distant as Malaysia and Mexico and hear about their work, projects and successes.

It’s a small world after all.

If you want to talk more about any of these topics, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

29/10/2020No Comments

Two sides of the same coin

It’s perhaps not surprising that business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) marketing are usually seen as separate disciplines. After all, that’s the way agencies have often promoted them, with each requiring specialist knowledge.

But separating the two too distinctly, risks overlooking the overlaps and synergies that are there if you dig a little deeper.

Consumer and business marketing have always been two sides of the same coin and there are things each can learn from the other.

Whether it’s understanding your audience, the essential importance of creativity or having expertise across touchpoints and platforms, effective marketing always requires the same fundamental principles, regardless of who you are targeting.

The stereotypes that aim to oversimplify either side – whether it’s downplaying the creativity required for B2B or marking B2C as unsophisticated or frivolous – have never rung less true.

Nevertheless, different client aims and focusses lead to different developments and innovations; by only focussing on one specialism these can be easy to ignore.

At TMW, we offer clients the best of both worlds, with a truly integrated offering with collaboration between specialists at its heart. In that spirit, we put our heads together across TMW and TMW Business to offer up some key examples.

What B2B can learn from B2C

Understand the human

At TMW, we believe that the key to effective marketing is a deep understanding of human decision-making and behaviour. This means creating communications that understand emotion and motivation, and drive action. This doesn’t change regardless of whether you are trying to persuade an FMCG consumer or a decision-maker within a business.

B2B marketing often gets caught up in job titles and functional roles, but appreciating the person holding them is the way to develop an approach that delivers real empathy and engagement. People at work are humans too, and they require real human insight.

Fortune favours the brave

There is often a perception that B2B marketing plays it safe; preferring to err on the side of caution and taking the road that’s well travelled. This doesn’t need to be the case; the corporate side should still be encouraging clients to experiment with new channels and bolder, more creative messaging.

Taking a breath and trying something new will pay off for brands feeling more confident than their peers, just as it does in consumer comms.

Building for the long term

B2B often values one thing more than anything else: leads. Getting customers fit and ready for a conversation with sales teams is critical to marketing teams in the discipline. However, these rely on shorter-term tactical projects.

B2B marketers also need to ensure that they are building a brand to deliver long-term sales growth. Put simply, a company that has a brand that is recognised and understood is in a much stronger position to generate leads than an organisation that doesn’t. Building such a brand requires longer-term strategic and emotive thinking, but all of the evidence suggests that it’s an investment that will pay off in the long run.

Harnessing the power of influencers

One of the biggest changes in the industry in recent years has been the rise of influencers. However, the effectiveness of using the right influencers for a brand is still occasionally undervalued. This is true in B2C circles, but more so when it comes to B2B.

According to a recent neuroscientific study, influencer ads outperform even TV ads in the key metrics of memory encoding and emotional intensity; being 87% more effective in the former and a whopping 277% more effective in the latter.

Moreover, the evidence shows that you don’t need to rely on a mega-celebrity in the mould of Kylie Jenner to have this impact. In fact, research shows that using niche influencers, defined by specialism rather than audience size, is more impactful than using those with very large audiences.

The types of influencers will differ, as will the channel mix, but there is no doubt there are opportunities for clients in both marketing disciplines.

What B2C can learn from B2B

Going smaller to go bigger

In B2C, suggesting you spend your entire budget marketing to talk to just a small handful of your customers might seem a very bold strategy indeed. In B2B, it’s becoming a far more appetising option for brands in the form of account-based marketing (ABM).

Paying close attention to your most loyal and valuable customers, providing them with highly personalised VIP treatment could home-grow you a vocal advocate, create an influencer, or make a profitable segment even more so.

Measuring sanity, not vanity

We all love seeing the number of likes and comments on a post tick up and up. But there’s a reason they’re not captured in the end-of-quarter financial reports. Marketing now more than ever must prove its worth, and that requires making the link between budget and revenue as clear as possible. And that means working with clients to form robust measurements of the value of all of your marketing output.

Whether you’re trying to directly push to purchase or perform a less tangible (but still vital) brand-building role, everything has to be building towards a bigger picture.

Looking at the performance metrics of your campaigns to understand which are the ones that are ultimately influencing the balance sheet is a sound step in getting marketing seen as it should be: an asset, not a cost.

Add meaningful value

Being relevant and aspirational is one thing. Being useful is quite another.

In B2B, education and knowledge sharing are vital ways to not only support potential customers, but also introduce products in a softer more compelling way. If they remember finding out something genuinely new and practical from you, they’re more inclined to remember what you’re selling as well.

Creating content that not only engages but informs and adds benefits to the recipient is a sure-fire way to add value to comms, whether it’s aimed at a business or a consumer.

Reaching out to wider purchase influencers

One of the biggest challenges in B2B is the fact that multiple heads get a say in any purchases. This is less so of an issue in B2C where the customer and consumer are more likely to be the same individual. However, this is not always the case. On consumer purchase items that require more deliberation – for example a house, a car or (if you’re lucky) a puppy – there are often multiple decision makers in the buying process.

Having messaging that speak to everyone’s needs and behavioural triggers will help them collectively agree to choose a brand over a competitor.

This is just the beginning of a great relationship between TMW and TMW Business.

We’re looking forward to working closely together, sharing what we know and love, and bridging the gap between B2C and B2B to make sure all of our clients get the best of both.