Are You Connecting With The Outside World Of Customers Today?.

By Posted in - Marketing Advice & Insight on December 10th, 2015

Are you working in a silo that is in danger of falling into, and being swallowed up by, the gradually closing gap between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing? The answer, in part, to this question can often be found in the figures in your marketing “bottom line” i.e. if your content marketing and B2B marketing efforts are only effective well below forty-percent of the time, then it’s probably a yes.

The hard truth is the barometer of effectiveness has not moved very much in the last five years and continues to struggle to break the forty-percent ceiling — in many cases it lingers below the thirty-percent mark. This is despite the significant increase in spending for content marketing, digital marketing, and marketing automation.

Adding value to the “human experience” — today’s buzzword – or so the theory goes, will move the needle above the forty-percent ceiling toward a more rewarding level of effectiveness. But to do so, new skills sets in marketing – including capabilities to understand and contribute value to human story of customers – are required. This is the evolution to human-centric marketing.

I remember when I saw the first glimpse of this – a glint in the eye of a particularly brilliant oil company CEO, who had seen the future of marketing in the shape of a movement to establish a new threshold for B2B marketing to adopt a more human-centric approach. He was before his time as he spoke about marketing leaders needing to meet customer demands for more “holistic and immersive experiences.”

This was 10 years ago when we – the CEO’s business and I – were trying to see beyond a B2B marketing landscape of trade publications, trade shows, marketing literature etc and explore other multiple channels and touch points to tap into emotions and create a very human connection to the brand –- a connection that was not being made through conventional marketing channels.

When organisations only focus on business intelligence, this limits their view of the outside world. This damaging “disconnect” – never really knowing what reality looks like – arises when assumptions about customers directly oppose how customers view how the world (of marketing) works. I remember the days (working for the oil company) when marketing business intelligence and analytics largely came from the media packs of trade publications.

Of course, with the rise of online and social media, senior executives today rely more on subjective human insights oriented values for decision-making, but I suggest, we need much more reliance on intuition, emotions, company culture, goals, reputation, and situational fit. Business decision-making is becoming extremely personal and the way we market must embrace this dynamic.

It is vital that marketers realise that the (B2B) customer journey is an integrated, enduring experience that needs to evolve as the customer interacts with your brand – from the factory gates to point-of-sale, to mobile, online, email, sales and support. Each touch point a customer has with your organisation must be anticipated, relevant and effortless – every single time. If not then customer satisfaction and business results will not be as good as they could be.

With influence beyond direct customer acquisition, marketing is increasingly responsible for the entire customer experience and it also has much work to do in order to better understand customers and integrate (B2B) more seamlessly into their lives. Brands are not delivering the level of customer experience they imagine. Despite our obsession with and proficiency in analytics there is a gap between what customers  want and what they’re getting.

The truth is, whether your customer is a business or a consumer, there’s a person behind every interaction. So emotions ultimately power decision-making and we don’t always make logical considered decisions, even when we think we do –- this is why the cold logic applied to marketing and sales must give way to human centric experience fulfilment.

It means letting go of long held beliefs in rigid B2B product marketing and embracing a brave new world where human connection is not seen as fanciful but essential to helping businesses succeed.

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