Aha! Moments for Content Marketing

15 Aha! Moments from BMA 2015 for Content Marketing

Ready for 3 days of learning from the Business Marketing Association 2015 #BMA15 conference, packed into 15 aha! moments? Here goes.

What’s changing with B2B buyers? Buyers are doing more searches than before.

The typical B2B purchase now involves 12 searches, says Jim Lecinski of Google. Yet buyers are looking at fewer brands. In fact, 60% of buyers are looking at only 2 brands. Aha!

The millenials have clearly arrived: almost half of B2B buyers are now under age 35. Marketers need to adapt as B2B buyers change:

• 74% of buyers say buying online is more convenient, notes Laura Ramos of Forrester Research.
• Marketers need to “use today’s language, even if it’s uncomfortable,” says Christine Rohan of GE Transport.
• “Smarter customers are solving problems earlier in the buying journey,” says John Bell, VP, enterprise digital marketing, Travelers.
• Smart companies like GE are now organizing their value propositions by buyer persona. Aha!

During searches, customers take completely random walks, says Russell Glass, Bizo founder and LinkedIn executive.

Bransdscaping author Andrew Davis showed just how random a buyer’s walk could be – with his example about searching for meatloaf recipes, meatloaf at restaurants, and the musician Meat Loaf. The buyers’ journey does not look like a funnel; instead it looks like the Client Journey model pictured here. Aha!

buyer's journey
Here’s a model of the buyer’s journey, as mapped by Andrew Davis. Focus on creating moments of inspiration.

A buyer’s journey is triggered by moments of inspiration (MOI) – which marketers can create to achieve return on investment (ROI), Davis notes. To take advantage, B2B marketers need to think like entertainment executives: creating marketing to build suspense, foster aspiration and harness emotion. Aha!

Mobile media comes first. Time with online media now exceeds time spent with all other media combined, Lecinski notes. Already, 42% of B2B buyers’ Google searches are mobile.

At LinkedIn, 50% of unique visiting members are on a mobile device. Going forward, mobile comes first. Aha!

Warm up B2B: be human.
Business to business is first and foremost human to human. Decisions take more than cold hard facts.

B2B marketing happens human to human. Few business decisions are based solely on hard facts and cold logic, notes Patrick O’Hara of gyro. So dial up your soul, celebrate your culture and humanize the data.

“No one tells bedtime facts, they tell bedtime stories,” notes Jonah Berger, a Wharton School marketing professor and author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

Customers are greatly influenced by word of mouth. Most new business results from existing customers’ word of mouth, says Berger. Referred customers also have a 20% greater lifetime value.

Word of mouth takes great stories people will repeat.
How can you embed the kernel of your brand into a story customers will tell?

More tidbits from Berger on word of mouth marketing:

• Word of mouth goes twice as far as traditional advertising.
• Only 7% of word of mouth happens online. Aha!
• Word of mouth works because it comes from a trusted source and it’s targeted.
• 6 factors drive sharing by word of mouth: Social currency, Triggered, Emotion, Public, Practical value, Stories – STEPP.
• Find triggers for word of mouth to put into your customers’ environment. For example, when you want customers to think of “jelly”, say “peanut butter and …”
• Good stories are Trojan Horses that carry a kernel of the brand or a key attribute. Find your kernel, the story you want people to share. Find your inner remarkability. What’s surprising, novel, interesting? Aha!

Marketers send signals about buyers’ identity. So: How can marketers make clients look good? How can marketers build clients’ social currency? How can marketers make them feel smart, special, and in the know?

The customer experience is paramount. “The purpose of experiences is to make marketing superfluous,” says James H. Gilmore, principal of Strategic Horizons LLP, and author of The Experience Economy: Updated Edition.

“Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable.” Aha!

He sees 5 key marketing trends unfolding in the experience economy:

1. Experiences in name only, where the word “experience” is tacked on to existing marketing.
2. Experiential marketing, which applies experimental thinking to marketing, like Red Bull.
3. Customer experience management (CEM) such as Progressive’s mobile claims adjusters who show up in vans, settle claims and sign up new customers.
4. Digital experiences, including apps such as Lego’s Life of George and Blendtec’s Will It Blend? videos.
5. Experience offerings, such as a workshop for building product prototypes.

Gilmore challenges marketers with this question: “What existing marketing programs should you completely cut to finance a new customer experience?” Aha!

Customers’ day-to-day digital experience is coming from sales, not from marketing, Fran Brosan of Omobono Digital observes.

“We’re still struggling as marketers to deliver great experiences,” Glass admits. “How do you create the Amazon experience? That’s the crux of the problem.” Aha!

The marketing function must move “from order-taker to playmaker,” says Rachel McClary, Diebold’s global marketing VP. Focus on reporting business results to executives, rather than reporting on the creation of marketing programs. Aha!

Too many marketers still lack written strategies. “Although an integrated digital strategy has many benefits, only 1/3 or companies have one,” Brosan says. “What marketing needs to do is integrate the digital strategy [even though] only 7% of non-marketers think marketers should be in charge of digital.” Aha!

“If anyone thinks they’ve figured out digital marketing—they haven’t,” cautions CDW’s CMO Neal Campbell. Aha!

Most marketers lack strategies for content marketing, despite growing budgets in this area. “Document and follow your content marketing strategy to be 8 times more effective,” advises Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute.

“Create valuable, compelling information for your audience so they know, like and trust you.” Pulizzi notes that the largest publisher in agriculture is not a traditional media company but a content marketer, John Deere.

“Building an audience is the most important content marketing goal, not website traffic.” Aha!

Face to face events remain the most effective marketing activity. They’re used by 91% of marketers and garner the biggest chunk of the B2B marketing budget, notes Ruth Stevens, president of eMarketing Strategy and author of Maximizing Lead Generation. Trade show spending grew 1.8% in 2014.

Despite the rise of digital, virtual events have not taken off. “It’s not the ‘event-ness,’ but the ‘face-to-face-ness’ that matters,” Stevens says. Aha!

She adds, “If you don’t have a lead nurturing process in place, don’t spend a penny on event marketing.”

What were your aha! moments at BMA15?

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