Stephan Nobs is Brankmaker’s Chief Marketing Officer. With more than 20 years experience, Stephan is one of the industry’s Marketing Software pioneers and has significantly influenced the field of marketing resource management.
The loss of control when creating and sharing content
According to leading analyst firm IDC, by 2020 marketing departments will no longer have direct control over more than 50 percent of the paid content generated by their companies. Until recently, marketing still had oversight and control over most of the content created – every message was carefully communicated via official spokespeople, and all materials were approved by the marketing and legal departments prior to publication. Now everything is changing. The solid firewall that marketing used to ring-fence its content is starting to resemble a sieve. A fact that CMOs need to come to terms with.
Probably the most important advice for CMOs in 2018 therefore, is to prepare for the emerging content tsunami – otherwise this wave will simply sweep through their traditional marketing practices.
Social Media is changing all the rules
This trend is driven by the growing importance of social media, even in the B2B field. Potential B2B customers are now able to contact your company in different ways, for example, LinkedIn and Xing make it extremely easy to find the right contact person and to reach out to them directly. This creates a new challenge – it essentially means that each individual employee is potentially an ambassador for your company. And what is more, customers expect an immediate response, regardless of whether they have chosen an official or unofficial channel. Meanwhile, your employees are communicating via their own social media channels. Even if most businesses have developed a set of rules to govern the use of social media, it is still challenging to control exactly what your employees are posting.
In the future, every employee will be your company spokesperson
The boundaries of the marketing department have been blown wide open and the accompanying loss of control is making many marketers uncomfortable. But this trend isn’t going to let up any time soon. And in fact, it shouldn’t be stopped. Today, as everything becomes increasingly externally-focused, businesses should embrace this new era of honesty and transparency. Rather than sticking to their old ways, CMOs should seize the opportunities presented by this trend and take advantage of the new channels. But it is crucial that they succeed in empowering and enabling their employees to respond to any inbound questions with meaningful content.
Ultimately, the objective is to provide potential customers with clear, unambiguous information about your company and products. Then, once the dialogue has started, it is important to be able to keep it going to ensure that interested prospects do not fall through the net. Many employees who are unaccustomed to interacting directly with customers are likely to let the conversation drop, as they return to old habits that leave the selling to the sales team. But you can’t get away from the fact that an employee who has just been contacted by a potential customer is effectively a company spokesperson, whether your CMO likes it or not.
The self-guided customer journey
It is also extremely likely that multiple other conversations of this nature are taking place across your business. The question is – how can you support them? It’s far too time consuming to personalize every single exchange – so what do you do? Ultimately you should aim to standardize and simplify your processes. This is where the so-called “content journey” approach comes into play: one that allows your salesperson or adhoc spokesperson to engage in conversation with prospects, while taking the effort out of the process for everyone involved.
During the dialogue, your employees need to be able to access appropriate information quickly and easily. If the prospect reveals a specific Pain Point or desired product specifications, it will be clear where they are In the buying process. You should ensure that your employees are able to provide the prospect with relevant information and they should be trained to ask for consent to connect the potential customer to additional resources. This is the moment when you send the prospect on a self-directed journey – a journey that delivers specific information based on his/her needs and preferences. Important is note is that most MA tools don’t support this kind of a self-directed journey, where a series of content pieces need to be offered not depending just on whether prospects have received the mail or downloaded an associated content but how they actually interacted with the content presented and depending on anticipated additional interests based on content consumption.
Also trending: Account based marketing
This self-guided journey is the real key to success because it enables every employee in your organization to communicate with possible customers using “the right” content, without needing marketing involvement at every step.
This approach also meets the needs of today’s buyers, particularly those in the B2B field, who want to have complete control over the research process. Furthermore, this approach fits perfectly with account-based marketing – because you obviously want to be able to track your company’s different touchpoints with the outside world. Not only do you want to understand how many people your employees have been in touch with, but also to follow up with them and to use this information to inform and guide your sales strategy.
Make 2018 the year where you moved from simple push-marketing to truly customer centric pull-marketing! Increase in opportunities and deals will be a direct consequence of the adoption of this new paradigm. Embrace and enjoy your own marketing journey.