This is a guest blog post written by Carlos Hidalgo of The Annuitas Group, a leading provider of B2B sales and marketing process consulting services and long-time Silverpop partner. Carlos, along with Andrew Haussegger from Green Hat Marketing and Joel Norton from Boost Marketing, were on tour with me as we participated in a series of B2B University sessions across Australia. Below are some key takeaways from those events. — Will Schnabel, Silverpop vice president of business development
I recently had the opportunity to join Silverpop at its B2B University tour “down under” in Australia. The tour spanned the cities of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne with a focus on providing B2B marketing and sales education to help attendees adjust to the rapidly changing world of the B2B buyer.
There were several key takeaways that stood out for me from the week, and I’m glad for the opportunity to share them here as a guest blogger for Silverpop.
1. The future of marketing automation continues to be bright.
While much of the growth in the automation space has taken place in the United States and to a lesser extent Europe, the advantages of automation are starting to be realized across the globe. Many of the marketers I spoke with are looking to invest in these solutions. As one said to me, “Why wouldn’t we make the decision to automate? With all the solutions available to us, we have to make this change in our business.”
This is indeed great news for the overall automation market in addition to the B2B users and vendors who already have an established presence in the Australia/New Zealand region. The Asia-Pacific region will be the next frontier for the growth of automation, and it happen sooner than we think.
2. Social must be part of the content and demand generation mix.
Unlike other B2B universities, this tour had a section dedicated to social media, which was led by Joel Norton of Boost Marketing. His segment was compelling as it touched on developing both corporate and personal brands in addition to making social part of an overall integrated approach to demand generation.
The use of social is something many organizations struggle with—and some even stay away from—but as Norton pointed out, you just need to start with a plan (even if it’s simple) and begin to act on that plan. Test the results, listen for and measure the response, tweak where necessary and repeat.
3. Content is king.
This should be no surprise, but it was a recurring theme as B2B marketers asked questions about how to best engage with their customers. Inevitably, the answers to these questions went back to developing content around the buyer’s journey. Clearly, content will continue to be a driving force of change in B2B marketing.
4. The buyers are driving the change and are firmly in control.
During one conversation I had with an attendee, he asked me, “Why would we adopt all this process and technology when we’re in a small market and I can just call all my potential customers?” I responded by asking him if he was sure his prospects wanted to be called. The light instantly went on for him.
A major theme throughout the week was that the buyer is now in charge, and how salespeople used to (or for that matter want to) sell has very little bearing. Buyers are demanding engagement on their terms and will signal when they are ready to be sold to.
5. We’re all human.
The use of technology, the development of process, offer maps, content development, opt-ins, etc. are all important, but we were reminded again that at the end of the day, we’re marketing and selling to people. People want to have a relationship with their vendor. They want to be assured there are people behind a product or service purchase, and in spite of all that technology can accomplish, we must not forget that our customers are people.
At the end of the day we’re all human, and providing that human touch will often be the difference between winning or losing with a customer. The best tweetable phrase I heard to describe this was one person referring to her customers as “emotionally opting out,” which was illustrated by her company’s emails being met with the delete button. What a great phrase and a great reminder that we can’t forget to whom we are marketing and selling.
Overall it was an excellent week here in Australia with some fantastic fellow B2B marketers who, like the rest of us, are learning, thinking and developing new ways to keep up with the changing world of buyer-led B2B marketing.