The year 2020 was full of challenges for companies, but when I think about the current state of the B2B marketing landscape, I realize that this year also laid the groundwork for much-needed improvements.
As companies move on with their annual planning for 2021, we have the opportunity to restart companies and accelerate progress in the direction we have known for years to go.
Here are three business-critical concepts to incorporate into your annual planning for the fall.
1. The B2B-B2C divide is gone – connect the dots with data
The gradual shift in the professional world to remote, more flexible work environments has been hyperdriven by the COVID-19 pandemic and there is no turning back.
Almost three quarters of CFOs expect at least 5% of their workforce to be permanently relocated to remote locations. Meanwhile, some companies – including Twitter, Square, and Facebook – are pushing to make this move a widespread and permanent option.
Workers who have done even part of their work from home for the past few months can tell you that the merging of personal and professional space has had a significant impact on the way their days, environments, and even their basic daily mindset are structured.
Such dramatic changes – the pros and cons of which depend on the individual – have a tremendous impact on consumer travel in both the B2B and B2C marketing worlds, particularly in terms of how marketers feel about audience data.
We need to stop communicating with "consumers" or "business people". We communicate with people – complex people with equally complex daily schedules and changed mindsets. We need to apply insights on a human level to understand such complexities and identify the moments when these people are emotionally ready to hear about our brands.
Traditional day segments no longer apply. An insurance manager is likely helping her son fix a Zoom virtual study call for school on a Wednesday at 2 p.m. today, just as much as she is supposed to be thinking about her company's CRM needs. Likewise, the general manager of a large retail business doesn't necessarily need to recover from his 8pm day on a Friday evening. He could crank up his PowerPoint presentation for Monday's board of directors meeting.
If you want to build a strong customer journey today, it's all about understanding each individual's mindset in the moment.
2. Embrace the merging worlds in predictive marketing
Marketers now live and work in a predictive world. Leading brands use data to make better decisions about how to communicate with and serve their customers.
This is the essence of predictive marketing, a movement that has become all the more important in today's tight economic environment where marketers are tasked with finding new efficiencies in their media plans. Data is no longer just an asset. It is a living, kinetic thing from which real-time knowledge can be derived and implemented. The only way to do this effectively, and really optimize experiences, is to combine human intelligence with artificial intelligence.
The best forward-looking marketing puts the personal understanding of each individual at the center of a company's media planning and purchasing. Advances in data and technology over the past decade have brought this vision to life for many organizations. The problem, however, is that these strategies typically only consider half of each individual – the personal half or the professional half.
It is time to break this dichotomy once and for all.
3. Treat mobile as the basic platform it is
The context in which B2C and B2B brands communicate with prospects and customers is now a mixed reality, where a given hour for an audience member could include a conference call with a customer, a clothes-folding session, and a break to set an eight – Year old a snack. This reality calls for a new approach to data-driven marketing.
Nowadays, a B2C brand has to expand its knowledge of customers according to their professional life, while a B2B brand has to expand their knowledge of customers through their personal data and preferences. For marketers on both sides, this means figuring out how to find and manage new attributes in their CRM. On the B2B side, this means a fundamental reorganization of data – including rethinking the meaning of previously coveted information, such as: B. direct voting of a person at work.
Today, cell phone numbers are the ultimate identifier for closing the record gaps between a person's personal and professional profiles. After all, a person's cell phone isn't just a way to call them directly. It is a fundamental platform to connect through numerous channels at any time of the day, thus driving direct trading.
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Today's consumers and business customers have increased expectations for personalized experiences in a world where the devices around them recognize and adapt to them as individuals. They expect their marketing experiences to follow suit.
For years, people have given marketers the option to treat them as two separate entities – a personal version and a working version – because they too have physically separated these elements of their lives. But suddenly and irrevocably this time is over. In today's reality, we don't separate our personal from our professional selves. We are just our human selves.
Are your data ready?