The market is ever-changing. What issues are evolving that B2B business leaders and marketers need to have on their radar? Welcome to The Marketing Accelerator Podcast, featuring three insights in about three minutes. I'm Drew Dinkelacker. Today I'm speaking with Aaron Brown - he's the Executive Vice President of Fahlgren Mortine. That's an integrated communications company that helps brands engage in ways that are precise and meaningful. Aaron, marketing continues to evolve. What do you see are the key evolutions that B2B business leaders and marketers need to take note of?
Aaron Brown: The first thing is really acknowledging that the changes in the buying process are accelerating, they're going faster, and that's the result of the behaviors that we as consumers have: that we're doing so much through self-service online, and, if we look at that from a business-to-business buyers’ perspective, they're going to want to do as much of that as possible through just digital tools. (Customer) research, maybe engage with a chat bot, do a comparison tool, a spec sheet, and purchase through an e-commerce without ever direct interaction with the brand. I liken it to the car buying process. Previously, you have to go to the car lot, talk to a sales person a couple of times, negotiate, then you buy the vehicle. Today, sites such as Carvana completely take that and flip it on its head, and it's complete self-service. So, how far can your customer go without ever engaging you?
Drew: Growing the functionality of self-service, well, will take investment in risk. What would you say to the business leader that is hesitant about that?
Aaron: I would say we have to hurry up because your customers are probably on your competitor sites or a B2B marketplace looking for other options right now. It really starts, I believe, at an organizational culture for risk, and how can marketing leaders paint a picture, a vision of the future customer experience that has some risk, some evolution, and then say, "Here are the steps that we need to take over an evolution over several years to get there." I think that takes what could be seen as revolutionary and makes it a little bit more digestible, and then one anecdote as well in terms of budget planning is, can you create an innovation fund and you don't know how you're going to spend it each year, but it allows you to innovate and be opportunistic. I think that culturally is a great thing to consider.
Drew: One of the evolutions that you've told me is that brands shouldn't stand still. The underlying message there is that brands need to change, but, man, that opens Pandora's box of change to what? How far or how fast? How do you start that process?
Aaron: Sure, I would start it with, first, a baseline understanding that it's about a relentless commitment to staying relevant to your customers, and your customers aren't standing still. So, brands then need to be as close as they possibly can to those customers. Well, or how, what type of digital infrastructure is set up with the tools to track and see what is generating interest and why and the purchase path. What type of other in-person forums are set up, think tanks or other collaborative opportunities to really just listen, because if we listen through the data and the insight shared by our customers, it's not nearly as intimidating. They're giving us the clues and evolution becomes exciting.
Drew: What a novel concept for business leaders and marketing leaders to consider - listen to your customer! At Marketing Accelerator, we optimize marketing leaders with insightful content, exclusive Round Table engagements, deep dive analysis and one-to-one coaching. I'm Drew Dinkelacker.