The way B2B customers buy and make decisions is undergoing a significant change. With an increasing portion of purchase processes starting and ending in digital channels, and the decreasing amount of time customers spend with sales, the landscape of B2B commerce is evolving rapidly. According to Gartner, only 17% of the buying process now involves direct interaction with sales teams. This shift raises questions about the role of marketing and the efficacy of marketing efforts.
These topics took center stage at an event hosted by Valve and MarkkinointiKollektiivi on October 31, 2023, which focused on the digitalization of B2B brands and the enhancement of the customer experience.
During the occasion, valuable insights and lessons were shared by Laura Hinkkanen, Senior Marketing Manager at Kone, and experts from Valve, including Max Nyman (CMO), Markus Natri (Brand Strategy Lead), and Risto Karhu (Head of VFX).
The event showcased an in-depth exploration of 5 crucial trends, which will be discussed in more detail below.
- The Challenge of Influential Content
As the time customers spend with sales teams decreases, there's a growing need for content that persuades and effectively conveys value. In an environment where trust in organizations and companies is not guaranteed, the role of trust building becomes more significant. B2B marketers must focus on creating content that appeals to both rational and emotional aspects.
- Dealing with Different Types of Customers
In the modern B2B buying process, there's a diverse range of people involved, including different generations, backgrounds, and preferences. Decision-makers may come from the so called “Boomer” generation, while influencers may be Millennials. Additionally, the process may include individuals who are more data-oriented and others who are emotionally inclined. To effectively cater to the varied needs of customers, companies must create content that appeals to both the rational and emotional facets of decision-making.
- Persuading the C-suite to Invest in Brand
Laura Hinkkanen offered a valuable tip for securing more budget for brand campaigns: showcase the value of branding through measurement. Start by implementing brand-building efforts and then measure their impact step by step. Markus Natri emphasized that brands must incorporate likeability and emotional factors, as human decisions often rely more on emotions than on rational factors. He aptly noted, "At the end of the day, a brand is your lifebelt."
- The Growing Importance of a Seamless 360 Brand Experience
In a world where customers interact with brands through numerous touchpoints, both in physical and digital spaces, the need for a seamless 360-degree brand experience is crucial. It's vital for companies to provide value that is coherent, consistent, and highly relevant to the customer. This presents a challenge, but when executed effectively, it results in the creation of strong customer relationships.
- The Potential of Industrial Metaverse
Is the metaverse still a relevant concept, you might ask? Risto Karhu, Head of VFX at Valve, shed light on the potential of industrial metaverses at the event. He emphasized how the metaverse adds another dimension to the digitalizing B2B brands. In the metaverse, companies can build immersive experiences that go beyond the limitations of physical space. These metaverses facilitate businesses to create high-quality virtual spaces where they can showcase their products and solutions in an engaging and visually appealing manner.
Furthermore, the metaverse enables users to interact with and test products virtually. This feature is especially useful in industries where physical product testing may be costly or impractical. Users can explore products, assess their functionalities, and make informed decisions, all within a virtual space. Hence, these spaces serve as more than just displays; they're hubs for direct customer engagement. Companies can provide information, answer questions, and establish a content hub where valuable resources are easily accessible, enhancing the overall customer experience.
In summary, the evolving landscape of B2B marketing demands a shift towards a more harmonious and trustworthy brand experience, influential content creation, and a recognition of diverse customer profiles. Demonstrating the measurable value of branding is vital to secure support for brand campaigns. Brands that navigate these challenges effectively are poised to thrive in the evolving B2B marketplace.
Explore the theme further by tuning into the event recording!