Digital Alone Won’t Cut it for B2B Marketers

The Big Idea:

Today, the safe thing to do as a B2B marketer is to build a purely digital plan. It’s targeted. It’s measurable. It’s cost efficient. And, you’ll get little push back internally.

All too often we run our digital plans to end up with millions of impressions, a slightly above average click-thru rate, but end up with a long list of dead leads. Our campaigns aren’t breaking through—why?

In our journey to master the digital, we’ve neglected the customer journey. While digital plays a key role, the journey spans direct mail, hospitality, incentives, social engagement, web targeting and immersion experiences.

This article isn’t about a new technology that will transform your marketing plan. It’s about a mentality shift from “digital” to “digital transforming mediums” that will help make you a better B2B marketer.

Why It Matters:

Digital and physical are not mutually exclusive.

They each play an integral role in the customer journey. And, when strategically sequenced, they can collectively drive real business outcomes.

Consider a CMA award-winning campaign by Microsoft Canada. They were launching a new version of Office 365—one that offered productivity, analytics and security within a single platform.

It was a better mouse trap. But it required their sales and marketing teams to land the value proposition with operational, marketing and technology decision-makers.

Virtual reality told the story.

To tell the story, they turned to virtual reality. They created a narrative about Contoso:  a mobile device manufacturer that recently migrated to Office 365. Three virtual reality videos were produced, from the perspectives of their CEO, CMO and CIO, to show how the software had transformed Contoso’s workflow.

Direct mail delivered the story.

They took an account-based approach to determine who they targeted. From their list of high potential prospects, they pulled the names of the customers’ C-suite. Each VR viewer was labelled with the names of their CEO, CMO and CIO.

Three VR viewers and an instructional card was packaged within a sleek parcel, which was sent to CEOs on the list. Microsoft sellers followed up with each prospect to book meetings and take them through the experience turning their customers’ office walls into a 360-degree canvas.

Following the meeting, sellers invited customers to immersion experiences at the Microsoft Technology Centre, where they could visualize how Office 365 could integrate within their organizations.

A revenue-filled happy ending.

An aligned sales and marketing vision created a connected customer journey that drove big impact. Four months into the campaign, the revenue target was achieved four times over. At the completion of the campaign, revenue hit nine times the target.

What’s Next:

Smarter customer journeys powered by AI.

With the proliferation of AI, prediction will become cheap. Prediction is already embedded within our phones, our cars and our appliances. AI will undoubtedly bring prediction to our desks.

As marketers, we must embrace this revolution. We need to get curious about how we can use AI and other digital tools to develop more personalized customer journeys that blend the physical and digital.

While prediction will become automated, judgement and action still firmly rest in the hands of human marketers. To become a successful marketer in today’s era, we shouldn’t be playing safe, we should be playing creatively. And, this means thinking beyond “digital” to a digitally transformed customer journey.

Andrew Au is the co-founder of INTERCEPT, a marketing consultancy based in Toronto and Boston that helps global brands solve go-to-market challenges. He was among the few Canadians to be named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for Marketing and Advertising in 2016. Andrew is frequently asked to share his perspectives on marketing and business leadership by media such as BNN, Bloomberg, Forbes, PROFIT, amongst others.

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