WPP until recently the world's largest agency group (and almost certainly to overtake the recent Omnicom - Publicis merged entity once the client fall-out is complete) announced a 19% increase in first half year profits. Profits increase of that scale imply a genuine and sustained uplift in marketing spend, not just in the UK but globally. Marketing services are normally the first budget to be ciut and the first to return, so can we now cofidently say we have passed the worst of the recession. Talking to CMFG's clients it certtainly seems that way.
Not many in the B2B work believe that the buying process is made up of a series of logical linear decisions (though surprisingly some still do). The fact that emotion plays a key role if not the key role in decision making is widely researched and accepted, though often this seems to be forgotten when looking at communication to customers and prospects at most stages.
But when we talk about emotion in buying what do we actually mean? Research by “The BuyerSphere Project by www.searchengineland.com identified one emotion that has a far great impact than any other – FEAR. At CMFG Marketing we see this fear working in a number of ways, fear that they are putting their job or promotion at risk if they make the wrong decision. Fear that they don’t know how to assess the correct buying criteria and fear that they know less than the person who is looking to sell to them.
Depending on personality types these fears can manifest themselves in many different ways and most sales people will be able to give you vivid examples of how they impact on face to face situations. Its marketing’s role to reduce those fears before sales teams even get close to the prospects and the best way to do that is through providing information. Lots of it, through multiple channels, at various levels of complexity and obtainable by the prospects when they want it.
A recent Hubspot blog highlighted the extent of the non-alignment between sales & marketing efforts:
According to a Corporate Executive Board study, 87% of the terms Sales and Marketing use to describe each other are negative. Sales calls Marketing arts-and-crafts and irrelevant, and Marketing calls Sales simple-minded and incompetent. Don't you think it's high time we stopped all this childish name-calling?
Now CMFG is made up of marketing specialists but even we have to put our hands up and say often in the companies we work for, it is as much the marketing team not understanding the selling process as the sales team not understanding the buying process.
Huthwaite shows us though that the selling process and the buying process are essentially the same thing, so if both sides are doing the job properly, then everything should be aligned, but they rarely are. The answer is a clear Service level Agreement SLA between the two teams that bring together the long and short term objectives of both parties. More importantly it ensures the hard stuff is done right by both sides because it is agreed in advance. Sales follows up on the leads provided diligently and marketing is clear and transparent the extent to which those leads are “warm” Shared hard objectives at the top is often the best way to kick this off.
Jeremy Lee in his excellent recent article in Campaign really let fly at the Cabinet Office’s “dead hand of the civil-service” involvement in the creation of a new ad agency roster. It is a must read for any agency thinking of tendering not only for central government work but for local government work as well http://tinyurl.com/bmdsgqj
CMFG has had similar experiences in the past, to the point that an invitation to pitch for a public sector tender is more often refused than accepted. Past gripes on previous tenders have included; reading an 80 page brief and not being able to establish what the objective of the brief was, presenting to a room of 10 people and then being informed that none of the decision makers involved were actually present, having to explain that actually most agency costs are time based not print based, being questioned by a team where no individual had a marketing background and my personal favourite, being informed that we hadn't won a pitch due to a factor that hadn’t been mentioned in the brief or face to face meetings up to that point.
It’s part of a bigger issue that CMFG sees where unqualified individuals are taking major marketing related decisions. IT experts make the decision on IT systems, finance experts take finance decisions and marketing professionals should have the final say in marketing procurement process.
Video is having its moment. Rapidly falling production costs and increasing acceptance of online video in everyday life means it has reached a tipping point. And that means we are likely to see it become a main content format for B2B in 2013. It isn’t going to be a uniform adoption across all sectors but for businesses with complex products or services or products where a demonstration really helps to sell, video just makes sense.
Any B2B marketing agency who knows what they are doing is constantly looking at ways to effectively engage with prospects during the early stages of the buying cycle. In these phases, the prospect is unlikely to be actively considering options around actual purchase so their attention has to be earned. This often means looking to provide information of immediate value to the prospect, normally around their industry sector or their skill area. They’re short of time and you have plenty to say and you need to make it interesting, so video is a natural solution.