By Andrew Dalglish - 3rd November 2011
Our friends at Marketing Options International (MOI) have just launched the Mind Share Café. No, not a diversification into tea and cakes, but a virtual hub where they’ve collected together the thoughts of leading B2B technology marketers. Marketers from players like Dell, Microsoft and Cisco.
Have a look – the Mind Share Café. You won’t find any pontificating. No self-serving agendas. Just technology marketeers in similar circumstances being open about the challenges they face and how they’re approaching them.
As the Mind Share Café’s research partner, Circle Research’s role has been as catalyst. To facilitate the discussion and then share its key strands with a wider audience so as to prompt further debate.
In doing so I was struck by one recurring theme: change. Of course, the technology sector is defined by constant innovation. Now though, the marketer not only has to simplify the complex, translate features into benefits, make the novel seem familiar, but they need to adapt these skills to a new environment.
The marketers we surveyed to form the Mind Share Café’s themes told us about the need to adopt a different mindset in challenging economic times. A mindset where marketing is always focussed on making a clear contribution to the bottom line. A mindset defined by an entrepreneurial approach – agility, opportunism and a closer, more integrated relationship with sales.
They told us about a shift in the balance of power driven by the rise of social media. The democratisation of information means that the technology marketer now has less control. They need to engage rather than broadcast. They need to interact with prospective buyers earlier in the sales cycle when preferences are unconsciously being formed. They need to be brave and share a relevant, valuable opinion with a content hungry audience.
They told us, in a raised voice, about the growing noise their messages need to compete with. Buyers now listen to many more channels, are inundated by communications in all aspects of their life and have shorter attention spans. From a ‘broadcast’ perspective, the information floodgates have opened and barriers to entry have fallen. All this conspires to create a sometimes overwhelming cacophony. The solution? Standing apart through creativity, using interruptive channel strategies and deploying media that are easily consumed.
Change is afoot then. However, it’s also clear that whilst we must adapt, the marketer’s raison d’etre and core principles remain constant. As one of the Café’s patrons says so well, “the fundamental objective remains to get people engaged with what you offer…it’s about understanding your buyer”.
Join the debate by commenting below. In no more than five words, what’s your single biggest marketing challenge?
Find out more about Circle Research’s B2B research services here.
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Andrew has specialised in B2B research for over a decade and co-founded Circle Research in 2006. He is a columnist for B2B Marketing Magazine, a regular contributor to Research Live and frequent speaker at leading events such as the B2B Leaders Forum, Customer Experience Live and the Social Media World Forum. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the MRS, teaches the MRS B2B research course and holds an MA in Psychology from Aberdeen University alongside an MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University.