Change is the only constant. The pandemic brought with it several challenges, and companies that realized empathy in their communication with customers withstood uncertainty. For B2B marketers today, it’s ‘you blink, you lose’ amid growing customer expectations driven by powerful data and new technology capabilities. We sat down for a chat with Nedra Pereira, Head of Content and Digital Marketing at Netscribes to make sense of where B2B marketers stand today and what they must do to stay resilient and adapt to the many new dynamics.
1. We are all living in a digital-first new normal. And B2B marketers cannot afford to approach their audience with a pre-pandemic mindset. Nedra, what do you think makes audiences tick and click these days?
What makes audiences tick and click? It’s quite simple. You’ll only click on content that you relate to or can easily consume. And yet a lot of companies fail to recognize this. B2B marketers are now using the same platforms as B2C businesses, and hence the strategy for marketing has to be based on the audience and not necessarily making the product/solution the hero.
2. Every once in a while, you find a campaign that inspires you to experiment with your marketing approach. Is there any recent B2B campaign that has stuck with you?
Yes, there is. CISCO. They are well known in the world of cybersecurity. And could have taken the standard route of brochures and case studies. They chose, however, to be innovative by adding a graphic novel to their website sections. The main character is a personification of CISCO and the novel follows their adventures in fighting against cyber security risks. An easy way to remind CISCO’s customers about its services while giving them an entertaining explanation of how CISCO can help their businesses. To make things even better, the novel can also be read in multiple languages making it easier for people to consume in their preferred language.
3. B2B companies, in particular, have long been accused of harboring a dull brand voice. Would you expect that to change in the future, Nedra?
They need to change if they want to be noticed. Brands have to realize that they need to connect with their audience. Because the internet has made information easily accessible and spreadable. We have different generations communicating via apps, and social platforms and can easily get in touch with anyone.
A good example of this is IBM’s campaign in 2019: Every Second Counts. They made short movies depicting real-life scenarios of data breaches and hacking issues as a means to inform their customers about everyday risks. Also, made for very entertaining content. Easy to consume and has an excellent brand recall.
The only thing that B2B marketers can rely on is that “Change is the only constant!” And to be noticed, one has to innovate while keeping their audiences at the center of it all.
4. How important is storytelling for B2B marketers? How can it help them build thoughtful content strategies and, in turn, a strong brand presence?
Storytelling is the backbone of all communication. It’s true. Think about it. Everything we’ve been taught is by the means of a story. Storytelling allows for interaction and participation in the narrative. It also gives brands a personality and voice—more importantly, it allows the audience to be part of an experience that affects how they think or influences their decision-making.
Once the audience can relate to your brand voice and personality, you’ve got them hooked. You can take them on a journey that’s unique to them. B2B marketers, in general, will find that all their successful campaigns have been successful owing to some form of storytelling.
5. Digital marketing has taken the reins for most new-age brands. Yet, an omnichannel strategy hits home when it comes to creating a memorable customer experience. How do you suggest marketers should approach an omnichannel B2B campaign?
An omnichannel strategy is crucial to creating excellent customer experiences. Customers now have several channels to connect with your brand for information and support. For B2B campaigns with an omnichannel approach, it’s important to consider what the objective of the campaign is. If you are running a campaign for brand awareness, it would make sense to use content formats across all channels as you are reaching a more extended audience. However, if the object is for MQLs that will turn to SQLs, then picking the right channels makes sense.
Also, if you have customer touchpoints, educate all your internal stakeholders on the same. No customer wants to explain what they are looking for through the various contact points you’ve set up for them. A lot of the times B2B marketers fail because their internal and customer-facing channels aren’t aware of what they are promoting.
6. Marketing in the metaverse is an exciting playfield. How do you think B2B content marketers will adjust to these shifts in the future?
To survive or stay relevant, marketers will have to be flexible and think out of the box by using several platforms including gamification to bring awareness to their brands and influence a new generation of users. One thing marketers must not forget is that we’re welcoming a new generation into the buyer journey. Gen Z isn’t like its former counterparts. This generation uses social media for different purposes, from gaming to purchasing.
For example, the gaming platform Roblox has brands use its platform to showcase their products on digital billboards in this reality. The user age group is from 6 to 16 year-olds. The pandemic has also accelerated people’s interest to engage in a phygital (physical and digital) platform that is eerily similar to the real world, yet in many ways different. Several brands have been able to build their profiles on the platform and offer goods and services to the users, ergo, increasing the audience ecosystem as well as generating a new business opportunity.
7. Nedra, before we leave, could you tell us if there is a golden rule that the marketer in you swears by?
Keep it simple. Your audience is intelligent and can tell when you aren’t being genuine. Marketing campaigns have to be more than a hard sell, must make the audience the hero of the story. If they can’t identify what’s in it for them, you’ve lost a potential customer/organic brand influencer.
Make sure you know your audience as well. It’s extremely important to identify and target your brand’s target personas. Invest time in understanding what their needs are. Once you’ve done that, it’s easy to come up with campaigns that meet business objectives.
Nedra leads the content and digital marketing team at Netscribes to help B2B and B2C companies achieve their marketing objectives. She is responsible for developing new offerings, driving business and client acquisitions. With a decade-long editorial and marketing experience, Nedra is a task master at heart who strives to deliver meticulous results.