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Your B2B customer is a millennial and a digital native. Is that who you’re targeting?

It’s time to harness data, navigate complexity, and deliver on the unification promise, says Kristin Gower, Global President, B2B Practice, EssenceMediacom.

B2B marketing has reached an inflection point. As business and sales models have changed, so have the customer profiles and the complexity of the audience’s journey. These shifting dynamics are redefining the role of CMOs as both growth-drivers and data stewards.

No longer responsible for only the bookends of “brand” and “demand,” CMOs and marketing leaders are taking over roles that historically belonged to sales teams – events, nurture, even the sale itself. This evolution to full-funnel customer management requires expertise across strategy, demand, automation, content, and advanced analytics — along with the ability to provide a seamless connection throughout.

Our buyer has evolved

Who comes to mind when you think of a B2B Buyer or marketer? Chances are it is a middle-aged man at a conference. The reality is very different; she’s more than likely a millennial, a “digital native” who researches products and solutions online, consumes vast amounts of content, and expects a consumer-grade experience at every touchpoint. These empowered B2B customers are also more likely to seek out the increasingly important purpose-driven companies.

A seismic shift in the market

These new buyers, coupled with digital disruption, have transformed the B2B landscape, creating an e-commerce market forecasted to reach $18.6 trillion by 2026, according to a recent study by Facts and Factors. In parallel, the explosion of everything-as-a-service (XaaS) has redefined not only what companies sell, but also how they acquire and retain customers.

The good news for marketers? A significant increase in their budgets (to nearly 10% of total company revenue in 2022), and a significant increase in the number of digital touchpoints with which to meet the customer.

But “owning” the customer, and having access to larger budgets demands greater accountability, the ability to drive quantifiable business growth.

The explosion of data and the acceleration of technology

The increased digitization and proliferation of touchpoints has resulted in data scaling faster than marketers can aggregate and analyze, with a corresponding increase in the range of tools and technology with which to understand, engage and measure customer value.

The ability to aggregate, analyze, and use this multiplicity is the holy grail of modern-day B2B marketing.

Marketers that can achieve outcome-defined integration and orchestration of tools and technology will gain a significant advantage, both in their organization and in ensuring their organization’s success.

How to take advantage of this evolved approach to B2B marketing

There are a few steps we can take as marketers to leverage this evolution. First, we must ensure a deep understanding and capability in data infrastructure, advanced analytics, and marketing-technology orchestration – on top of the marketing fundamentals of strategy and creativity. Furthermore, we must be the voice, and champion, for customers within the organization, uniting data, tech and content to facilitate a seamless buyer journey.

Next, to succeed, we’ll need strong, multi-disciplinary marketing teams with leadership that can connect vertical expertise behind a unified goal, growth-driven strategy, and a holistic measurement system. This means eliminating the silos and embracing holistic customer experience responsibility – whether it’s CRM/1P data connected to media, brand to demand, or Audience to Customer strategy.

Finally, we must bake agility into the ways of working; experimenting, testing and scaling as part of team mentality/ethos and process. And, of course, choose partners that can deliver the same breadth of services and deep expertise, fully integrated into a unified service offering, with the ability to scale quickly, and a shared accountability for business results.

EssenceMediacom is a member of the Institute of Canadian Agencies. Report on Marketing is where leading Canadian agencies showcase their insights, cutting-edge research and client successes. The Report on Marketing provides a valuable source of thought leadership for Canadian marketers to draw inspiration from. Find more articles like this at the Report on Marketing.

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