Innovate 1st Interview Part 4: B2B Marketing on the Edge


I was recently interviewed by Innovate 1st for Innovate eZine’s “Conversations on the Cutting Edge” series. Following are excerpts from the interview, which was conducted by Doug Berger, Managing Director, The INNOVATE Company.

To read the full interview series, start with my earlier blog post: “Challenges in Advertising & Media Effectiveness.” 

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Doug: Let’s look now at B2B. What if anything is the relevance of our conversation to our readers who are heads of marketing in B2B companies?

Randall:  There is tremendous relevance. TV may not be as important to a lot of B2B players, but certainly the digital world is. If we go back to what drives advertising effectiveness, it’s creative quality itself, the amount of media weight, and the programming context.

Innovative Advertising & Media Applies to B2B Too

If you’re selling tractors to corporate farms you’re probably advertising in some kind of farm-related content. But are you measuring that and really understanding the differential performance of all of the different forms of content within which your ad sits?

In a B2B context, if you are going to buy ten million impressions against corporate farm people and you execute a campaign, what percentage of those ten million impressions actually hit the target?

Start demanding accountability from the content providers if you’re not getting ten million against your target, and that is what was promised. That is number one.

Number two is measuring different digital creative in real time, and then optimizing your mix on the fly.

Finally, you can look at actual reactions. Let’s say that the objective of your digital campaign is to drive prospects to sign up for a newsletter on your website. You can measure the percentage of people who actually went to your website; the percentage who signed up for the newsletter; the percent of those people over time who actually call you or visit a dealership, etc.

B2B is a different context and a different set of media and advertising choices, but a lot of the underlying principles are no different.

As much or even more than the consumer world, social media is really important. You are going to have key influencers who are even more impactful in B2B categories than they would be in the consumer world.

If I’m the brand manager of Tide, there probably aren’t 50 consumers out there who are so influential that they could really sway opinions about my brand. In many B2B categories, it’s where you have real experts, and people rely on those expert opinions that there’s a much greater opportunity.

You can find who is blogging about your category; how many readers do they have; to what degree do they talk about your brand, and is it positive or negative; you can form relationships that turn them into not only influentials in the category, but influentials who again voluntarily are speaking positively about your brand most of the time.

Doug: Randall, this has been a terrific interview. Thank you.

Randall:  I think it’s a really exciting time to be in this space of advertising and media effectiveness – not only TV, but digital, social media. Personally, I think that there’s more transformation today than there has been probably since the advent of TV advertising and brand management.

Think historically about the advertiser. They spent on advertising. Then they waited months and months to figure out, did it work?

Now what does an advertiser really want? They want to show the right ad, to the right target, in the right programming, at the right time, at the right price. As these systems get much better at measuring the near real-time impact of advertising … the creative quality, the media impact, the programming, the placement … all of these different things, and the systems ultimately catch up, the world is going to move to a much more real-time model.

In that world you need a different marketing organization with different skills, and different processes, and different capabilities than what people have historically had. That is a big change.

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