B2B marketing: The science of data meets the art of engagement
I recently attended Ignite 2017 — a B2B Marketing event in London, and an overall great opportunity to both network with peers and get a feel for the pulse of what’s happening in B2B marketing in Europe. Following the same trend as in the US, the discussion revolved around 2 main topics: the power of data vs the necessity to engage your audience.
The era of the informed marketer
An incredible amount of companies offer software to help marketers through their data journey and improve their ways of working. Many software companies offer solutions on how and where to get data, how to use it to better understand target markets and personalize customer experiences, how to be more efficient and how to be able to do more with less. As in the US, the European Martech market is exploding, bringing to European marketers its set of opportunities – and challenges. It seems to me that one key to success for marketers today is to make sense of the overwhelming amount of SaaS companies that cater to them, and the specifics of the services they offer. Each marketing team has to plan their Martech investment carefully, putting together a marketing tech stack to match their strategy – and not just for the sake of technology. Remembering that the technology is just a tool to help craft, implement and deliver a thought-through marketing strategy and not the other way around. The technology makes us more informed marketers but can’t do it all.
The power of the big idea
That said, the discussion revolved around the importance of treating target audiences as human beings. Trying to balance the emergence of knowledge and the proliferation of data, with the necessity for brands to be more and more creative to stand out in a world where everyone uses the same approach and where attention spans are diminishing. We know about the necessity for inbound marketing and that content marketing actually works to deliver leads and engage audiences beyond products. But with every company producing content, the competition for attention has never been higher. Marketers not only have to produce content if they want to be found and considered by their target audiences, they also have to find ways to tell the most compelling story possible to make an emotional connection with their audience.
While data is key to improving relevance, personalizing content and putting the right content in front of the right audience, only ideas and creativity can create a real spark. Reaching that level of emotion can create a bond between a company and its audience, or at least make the brand stand out and stay memorable. To do so, all means are good — and complementary — using content, inbound, outbound, influencers or account-based marketing.
But all of these are only tactics and that’s the challenge we are facing as an agency. The challenge is actually twofold — keep delivering to get the lead gen machine going, but don’t forget about the need for creativity and the power of the big idea. It’s essential to keep up with the industry and always deliver campaigns that generate leads — create interesting content, push it out at the right time through the right channels throughout the funnel, create a consistent brand experience which will get you noticed over time. But by adopting a standard cookie-cutter approach to content marketing, companies sometimes forget about the creative concept, the unique idea that will make their campaign stand out more than the others, that will make their audience notice and, if they’re lucky, remember them.
At Sköna, we call these ‘Brand Gen’ campaigns — campaigns that build your brand beyond your usual educational content. Ones that can create a unique brand experience while also connecting with your audiences and driving qualified leads. Here is a recent example of a campaign we built for one of our clients, Snowflake Computing: The struggle for data ends now.
The challenge for Sköna (and agencies in general) is to convince clients that they need those campaigns (at least once or twice a year), and then deliver. To find that customer insight, that unique message, that creative concept that will go the extra mile, to ultimately make our clients shine. To offer to their customers that unique experience that will delight, entertain, educate and convince. These campaigns are unfortunately pretty rare in B2B. But when you manage to get all the stars aligned and deliver on a big idea, you end up with a strong and unique campaign that will resonate with your audience more than the last 10 emails they received from your competitors!