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 will also lay the foundation for the necessary improvements.
As companies continue with their annual plan for 2021, we have the opportunity to start business and accelerate progress in the direction we have known and must continue for years.
Here are three mission-critical concepts to consider in your annual planning this fall.
- The gap between B2B and B2C has disappeared: connect the dots with the data
The gradual shift from the professional world to remote and flexible work environments is driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and is unstoppable.
Nearly three-quarters of CFOs expect to permanently relocate at least 5% of their workforce to remote environments. Meanwhile, some companies – including Twitter, Square, and Facebook – are pushing for change as a broad and lasting option.
Employees who have also spent part of the past few months in a new home environment can say that the mix of personal and professional spaces has important implications for the way they structure their days, environments, and even their basic daily attitude.
These profound changes, on which the individual’s pros and cons depend, have far-reaching implications for consumer journeys in the world of B2B and B2C marketing, especially in the way marketers think about audience data.
We must stop communicating with “consumers” or “company personnel”. We communicate with people – complex individuals with equally complex daily schedules and changing mindsets. We need to apply human-level insights to understand this complexity and identify the times when these people are emotionally ready to hear our brands.
Traditional half days are no longer applicable. Today, an insurance manager will likely help your child solve a virtual learning problem for Zoom at school at 2:00 pm on Wednesdays, just as he would think about his company’s CRM needs. Even the CEO of a large retail banking sector does not necessarily end his day at 8 pm on a Friday. He’s probably working on his PowerPoint presentation for Monday’s board meeting.
If you plan on building a strong customer journey, today is all about understanding each individual’s mindset.
- Embrace the fusion of 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 and serve their customers.
This is at the heart of predictive marketing, a change that has become even more important in today’s tense business environment, where marketers are tasked with finding new efficiencies in their media plans. Data is no longer just a resource; it is a living and kinetic thing from which observations can be deduced and practiced at the right time. The only way to do this effectively and to really optimize experiments is to combine human intelligence with artificial intelligence.
The best predictive marketing puts each individual’s personal understanding at the center of a company’s planning and purchasing. Advances in data and technology over the past decade have brought this vision to life for many companies. The problem, however, is that these strategies tend to take into account only half of each individual: half personal or half professional.
It is time to break this dichotomy once and for all.
- Treat the phone as the basic platform it is
The context in which the B2C and B2B brands interact with potential customers and customers is now a mixed reality in which, at any time, for a target audience, a conference call with a customer is a foldable session that can cover a year of snack. This reality requires a new approach to data-based marketing.
Today, a B2C brand needs to integrate its customer knowledge based on its professional life, while a B2B brand needs to expand its customer knowledge through its personal data and preferences. For marketers on both sides, this means understanding how to find and manage new features in your CRM. On the B2B side, this means a fundamental reorganization of the data, including rethinking the importance of previously researched information, such as linking someone directly to work.
Today, cell numbers are the final identifier to bridge the gap between someone’s personal and professional profile. After all, a person’s cell phone is not just a way to call them directly; it is a fundamental platform to go through multiple channels at any time of the day to promote direct trade.