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MediaCom calls time on
B2B Marketing as we know it

Amigos head of strategy, Max Sherwood, looks at how the world’s leading media agency sees the future for B2B marketing and what that means for the IT sector.

With a background of too many years in the hard world of retail advertising, I’ve always believed that IT, like many other B2B sectors, was walking blindfold towards a precipice. Well, I fear that Covid-19 has brought it to the edge.


Leading technology influencer, Michael Moritz, tells us that the events of this year have ‘turbocharged’ the growth of the internet to a point we didn’t expect to reach until 2025 at the earliest. He speaks of the vast number of businesses where ‘doomsday’ has come early and of those who’ve seen a surge in activity beyond their wildest expectations.

Moritz is a global technology investor, controlling $1.4 trillion in tech stock, and says we are now fully embracing the Digital Economy and will not be turning back the clock.

For the IT sector, this should be cause for rejoicing, as more businesses embark on digital transformation programmes and technology becomes core to the operations of almost every organisation. Surely, we all see that the post Covid-19 period offers untold riches for the IT sector.

Well, not quite. IT is under threat from businesses that have come from the dark side, where the customer comes first and consumer marketing principles rule. If Moritz is right and the Digital Economy is here, then the IT sectors has got a bit of a mountain to climb.

If you’re not convinced, just look at the rise of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and how the trend towards consumption based technology has eaten into our markets. Lest we forget, Amazon started as booksellers and, through their marketing innovation and vision, were single handedly responsible for the destruction of the traditional book selling industry. Who’d have bet on that?

Amazon cut their teeth in the consumer space, so they know a thing or two about how to win and retain business and they use every ‘digital’ trick in the book to achieve this - do you think they’d stress about going head-to-head with the competition at a trade show? No, they’d have won the order before the prospect even got there!

As IT moves more towards annuity based software solutions, global players like Amazon will become an increasing threat and the channel is where the pain will be felt most.

IT marketers won’t be immune from this threat, if they ever were. So, when one of the bastions of global consumer advertising starts to move into our space, its time for us all to sit us and listen.

MediaCom, the world largest media agency, is now posting on the future of B2B, not on big consumer brands with even bigger A&P budgets, but the poor relations like the IT sector where marketing is considered only once everything else has failed. Don’t underestimate the implications of this, these are money orientated businesses who only play for big buck’s and now their eyes are on us.

As Michael Moritz put it, how we did things before will never be the same again so, as we start planning for 2021, we’re faced not only with the Covid-19 fallout, but with some painful hard facts - we’re not currently set up to meet the demands of this new digital economy.

 

Let’s look at what MediaCom had to say.

 


 

  1. Digital Events will largely replace physical ones

As with most of MediaCom’s insights, we don’t think this is such a surprise and have been highlighting this for some time. Covid-19 just put the lid on it. We’re all now immersed in a world of Zoom calls, Teams meetings and virtual events and there’s no going back.

But this is a good thing, because events weren’t delivering the goods in any case. Ask your customers what they think of events and you’ll find that they figure pretty low in the buying decision process, if at all.

We base our model on what buyers want from us, which is value based content and engagement throughout the buying cycle - establishing relationships buyers can trust. This is a fundamental consumer principle, with no potential customer buying from a business they don’t trust. Scanning name tags and buying rounds once a year is no replacement and never was.

 


 

  1. Outside and Inside sales will converge

Forgive me, but what’s the difference? Customers don’t want silos and don’t understand them. I leant early on that customers are very single minded and only care about ‘What’s in it for me’. They’re also fixated on brands and what they stand for, with awareness and recall as important to them as consideration and demand.

Of course, channel strategies must be considered, but only as part of an overarching plan. We’ve built a model on short term targets that don’t reflect the buying cycle and where everyone is looking after their own interests.

 


 

  1. A change to desktop self-directed experiences

Of all MediaCom’s points, this resonates the most. We now live in a connected world where everything is at the click of a button. We need to rethink our communications strategies, redesign our websites and stop being so inwardly focused, because how our customers behave has changed and we must change, too.

 


 

  1. Contextual content will replace cookies

Relevant only if you’ve adopted a robust digital contact strategy, context is defined by the value of any content to the target audience. In digital, it determines where content appears and who sees it.

This is how Amazon built their business, learning from what you like and serving up content you’ll like, too. It reflects life.

Read the full MediaCom post here, but my final take-out? Don’t accept this is ‘doomsday’ and be open to change. And remember that IT buyers are consumers - they do what other people do. If we want them to trust and engage with us, show them some respect and speak to them accordingly.

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