B2B Marketers Sell to an ‘Ecosystem of Influence’
Advertising research leader explains.
caught up last week with Steve
Rappaport, Director of Knowledge Solutions, for New York-based
Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) to discuss the future of business
marketing. Steve and several colleagues have just published a new
Online Advertising Playbook that you should strongly
consider for your summer reading list. (Disclosure: Neither
the CPA Marketing Insider nor the AICPA has a financial interest
in the sale of this book).
can you tell us hotheir behalf.w The Online Advertising Playbook
years ago, Pat McGraw, Chief Marketing Officer of Gillette came
to see us. He said: “I have $3 million to spend this year
and I have no idea what to do with it. I really don’t need
another highly charged sales pitch on the power of Internet advertising.
What I would like to know is how it works and why it works.”
my colleague and co-author, Taddy Hall, put together an advisory
board. We found there was a big knowledge gap out there on the media
landscape. Advertisers (media buyers) keep telling us they don’t
know how it works and media seller (vendors/publishers) keep telling
us they do know how it works. Our task was to round up
the best of what we do know and synthesize it. Principles, tested
strategies…offer industry best practices and proven techniques
reviewed over 1,200 academic studies, industry research, professional
articles and case studies of brands using online advertising. From
the one-third making the cut for research quality and source credibility,
we developed strategic principles and guidelines for effective online
advertising, and illustrated each one with cases. We learned that
online advertising can be effective across the full spectrum of
marketing objectives from lead generation to loyalty.
special insights for B2B marketers?
In B2B media
you’re the hunted. You’ve got to be where prospects
can find you. Once they find you (for instance on your Web site)
they want to interact with you. But that interaction’s got
to be more than just downloading a dry white paper. You’ve
got to find a way to build a relationship, which is crucial since
so much of B2B marketing involves a lengthy and complex sales cycle.
E-mail in general,
and e-mail newsletters (which we like to call “micro magazines”)
in particular are great relationship tools…as long as they
you need to recognize that younger professionals seek out and process
information differently from older, senior executives. They’re
more visual and eagerly watch video. They want relevant “grab
and go” knowledge that clues them in to why your product or
service will benefit them, not a tidy explanation of what it is.
not selling to one person or a group within one department. You’re
selling to a whole “ecosystem of influence” comprised
of one or two people from many departments or organizations.
you give us an example of ‘ecosystem of influence’?
say a prospect company goes to your Web site. Usually someone on
the research team provides some information in order to download
a white paper. They’re not just downloading the white paper
for themselves, but sharing, forwarding it around to other purchase
influencers and decision-makers at their organization. You don’t
know who the others are, but you need to be communicating and engaging
with them. Too often B2B marketers are dependent on the researcher
to spread the word on their behalf.
researcher is gathering and controlling competitive information.
The reality is that B2B marketers should be part of that process.
It’s my view that B2B marketers should consider themselves
not only as providers of information, but publishers of information
that people subscribe to…and then integrate with all the other
sources they subscribe to or draw upon.
Web sites, especially
on the B2B side, will also have to stop behaving as company or brand
silos. The future is making your Web site interoperable. By that
I mean it has to be complementary with other like-minded Web sites
so visitors (i.e. your prospects) can seamlessly gather information
(white papers, news feeds, product releases, demos) from each and
synthesize it for evaluation.
is the advertising industry today and where do you think it is going?
industry is crossing an inflection point, passing from the conventional
mass media ‘interrupt and repeat’ model to
a family of advertising models centered on relevance and engagement.
Online advertising is about 10-years old and it’s driving
three new models that seem to be bubbling to the surface —
On Demand, Engagement and Advertising as a service. Although they
differ, the models share similarities: A focus on dynamic relationships
among brands and consumers; penetrating insights into consumers
through data on behavior and preferences; and support from technology.
are these three new advertising models impacting marketers and consumers?
These new models
provide marketers with flexibility and a range of options they can
apply as consumers and situations warrant. Now is the time for brands
to experiment with a model, or combinations of models, that suit
the brand best. One conclusion is certain: We will never see another
75-year period of advertising centered on a single model and four
Advertising Playbook seems to focus a great deal on measurement
True. But, the
irony of online is that even though it’s so accessible, measurement,
really useful measurement, is actually pretty hard. But once you
figure it out, it’s pretty compelling.
you give an example?
Sure. Do you
know what the strongest correlation is between marketing and business
performance? It’s cash flow. (I imagine CFOs among your readers
suddenly perked up).
are the metrics that really matter?
It’s not just about
counting clicks…that’s a McMetric. The more important
question is: “What’s the click or other user interaction
that leads to that all-important conversion event, and then the
series of events that keep a customer engaged with a brand.”
Ten years out of the
box, online still accounts for only five to six percent of media
budgets in the U.S., but that’s not commensurate with the
amount of time consumers (including B2B executives) spend with the
medium. For instance, a recent Middletown Media study found that
TV ranks as the Number One media in terms of time spent with it,
but computer-related activities (about 50% of TV) are now Number
Two and no other media is even close. Sooner or later media spending
will catch up with media consumption patterns. Outside the U.S.,
digital advertising spending is approaching 20 percent in countries
like Japan, Korea and the U.K.
Just look at the younger
generation to see the future. They’re “digital natives”
who are not only very comfortable with all forms of digital communication
and interaction, but they’re highly adept at using all these
forms simultaneously — TV, cell phone, iPod, PC altogether.
This is very different from most baby boomers and Gen Xers who have
adopted digital technology but do not have either the fluency or
the habits of Gen Yers and younger people. I was struck by this
comment from an MBA student: “My dad, an IT guy, understands
digital very well. But he doesn’t use it like I do. In my
apartment I have my phone, TV and computer going all at the same
time and I’m using them at the same time.”
The younger people are
the “divided-attention” generation and they’re
quite challenging for marketers to reach…They won’t
tolerate having marketing messages pushed at them. They want to
control the relationship. They want to know what’s my relationship
to the brand and even in B2B, what does that brand give me back
in terms of relationship, learning, service.
Beyond the Click
B2B marketers need to
think well beyond the click. The click sets an expectation but is
really just a conveyance or form of transportation to what should
be a compelling brand experience that offers control, engagement
Playbook is available on Amazon.com. Click here
Advertising Research Foundation for membership information and
Rappaport may be reached at email@example.com.