A shifting approach to marketing.
Recent trends show that B2B and B2C marketing are merging. For example, B2B buyers expect an Amazon-like B2C buying experience that is both personal and available in real-time. This preference emerged in the 2010s and grew amid the pandemic as a result of blurring lines between “work” and “home.”
In the same day, buyers will purchase items for themselves and their family on websites like Amazon or Alibaba, and a few hours later, purchase something for their organization – all while sitting at their desk, working from home. Being in the same environment for both purchases has created an overlap in expectations – all purchase processes feel similarly easy and efficient.
Based on their buying experiences with B2C organizations, buyers now have similar expectations for B2B companies. Additionally, B2C companies are beginning to apply some approaches more typically associated with B2B, such as buying center analysis or key account management.
Increasing collaboration along the full customer journey.
To meet customer needs in this evolving environment, marketing, sales, and customer service or success must work more closely together than ever before. Lead management must be more integrated.
Customers expect a seamless experience, so after marketing triggers the initial lead through digital and non-digital channels, the team must ensure a white-glove hand-off so that sales can take over and close the deal. Customer service or success comes next, ensuring that the customer stays happy, creating loyalty and future opportunities that eventually turn into more leads.
Customers expect each subsequent interaction in the sales process to build off the prior ones. Thus, data and information must be shared from one role to the next so that each team has the latest insights into customers’ needs and desires. This level of collaboration will enable a consistent customer experience along the entire sales journey.
Today’s customer journey and its touchpoints for decision-making are fully integrated with digital technology. Customers can search for everything online, comparing the digital presence and offerings of various market players before they even engage with a company. This demonstrates the critical need to prioritize online and digital interactions with customers.
Additionally, with the rise of digital channels and ongoing digital transformation, collecting and analyzing quantitative data has become more accessible, putting individualized marketing not just on the horizon but in practice. Using data simplifies performance measurement and opens the doors for data-driven marketing.
Multi-channel and omni-channel marketing.
The concepts of multi-channel and omni-channel marketing are nothing new, yet most companies still struggle to execute on these ideas. Organizations must be more than just “accessible to customers through multiple channels.”
It is critical for companies to have the right understanding of how individual customers want to interact, and then approach them in a unified manner that makes it effortless for the customer to engage. Integrating marketing and sales teams with other functions, like supply chain, will enable a seamless and more personal customer experience and allow companies to introduce a multi-channel communication strategy targeted to the “buyer segment of one.”
Sustainability is a topic of growing importance to both customers and businesses. Customers want to know that the organizations they work with are thoughtful about their environmental impact. In many cases, customers are willing to pay a reasonable premium for an increased focus on sustainable business practices.
Companies are beginning to recognize that sustainability is a source of differentiation and can lead to accelerated growth. Historically, sustainability was viewed as a cost that must be borne, but forward-thinking business leaders are increasingly seeing sustainability as a long-term strategy that can set them apart in the marketplace and potentially drive long-term cost savings (e.g., through AI, enhanced digital capabilities, etc.). Business leaders must adopt a long-term perspective, take a stance on their company’s role in driving sustainability, and prioritize which sustainability goals to pursue.
Making marketing and value personal
Marketing must adopt an approach that is more:
- Personal: Marketing must create messages that make the customer “feel seen,” as if the company is speaking directly to them and addressing their unique problem or need.
- Data-driven: Marketing must use data about the individual buyer, their company, and their industry to create tailored communications that resonate with each individual buyer.
- Results-oriented: Marketing must focus on personal outcomes for the buyer and organizational outcomes for their company, which can be achieved through selling goods and services.
- Integrated: The marketing cycle must be aligned with both the sales and customer service/success cycles, and all three need to be synchronized with the customer’s buying cycle.
Adopting this new approach will help marketing campaigns become more targeted and foster a two-way engagement with customers rather than a one-way information push.
Marketing’s interconnectedness with all stages of the customer’s journey helps enable a seamless customer experience: from brand building and lead generation, through selling, closing, customer service, loyalty generation, evaluation, and results measurement.