Bright sunshine greeted guests as they arrived at Coq D’Argent for Cognito’s London Summer Breakfast Byte. Submarine analogies, debates and fascinating insights into the future of B2B marketing awaited them from Misys’s Mika-John Southwood, Cognito’s Tom Coombes and Tim Weller, CEO of Incisive Media, with Cognito’s Andrew Marshall moderating.
Tim Weller kicked things off with a description of how the media business has changed since he set up Incisive Media with just one magazine in 1994. At that time advertising was put into magazines in good faith, based on reader habits. Tim recounted an occasion when he and his team had stuck a note onto the magazines asking people if they had read a particular advertisement in an attempt to measure effectiveness. Just one year later the internet came onto the scene. The user experience at that time was embryonic, but was the start of the move away from a platform model towards a brand centric model. The move online has led to the evolution of the media business into an audience led industry, thus allowing both media and marketing professionals to better tailor their content towards the individual.
Mika-John Southwood gave a fantastic analogy of the developments in marketing using the slightly unusual topic of submarine hunting. In the old days ships would attempt to locate submarines using sonar, planes would then drop as many depth charges as possible hoping to get a hit. Methods are far more sophisticated now, the Navy (in which Mika-John spent several years) uses listening devices placed on the sea floor to accurately locate the submarines and marketing has developed in a similar fashion. At first marketers were forced to use “depth charges” due to a lack of user specific information; now having listened to customers and tracked internet usage, they have a plethora of information thanks to users choosing the content they want to view online, as well as signing up voluntarily for specific email updates and online groups.
The panel discussed how marketing varies regionally with a mix of channels and approaches. For instance in Asia much of the content is viewed through mobile devices; it is important to note, however, sophisticated apps have yet to make a big impression in the region. Africa is particularly interesting as email marketing is not effective, making telephone marketing the most effective tool. The expense of certain campaigns can vary from region to region depending on attitudes towards paid events; in Asia it is extremely unlikely that there would be a big turn out if tickets need to be paid for.
A particularly interesting question raised by the audience was: are we all suffering from information overload, and if so, how can marketers ensure that they are using the right content to grab their target market’s attention? Tom Coombes had some practical advice regarding information overload relating to Twitter. He believes in the future people will start to narrow their feeds down to more trusted sources. The challenge then, is to become a trusted source for your followers. This will be particularly important for “owned media”; if companies’ owned media is going to be ready for this change, they need to be building their relationships and quality content now to avoid losing their audience for good in the future.
Tim Weller’s answer for making sure your content attracts the attention of your target market is the holistic approach, combined with the use of apps which incur higher dwell times due to their more immersive nature. Mika-John disagreed with this and suggested a more targeted approach, often using a company’s own database in order to get back in touch with the trader.
The panellists were positive when asked how best to utilise public forums and communities. According to Mika-John the challenges involved with these communities often stem from the differing agendas of those who create the forums and those who join them. The key to success is persistence; there will always be trolls and the odd negative comment, but on the whole people simply want to voice their opinion. The knowledge that they are contributing to the development of products and services will generally lead to a positive experience and feedback. The importance of social media in respect to customer services was raised by the panel; it’s important to know what your clients are saying and respond to any concerns they might have.
So the next question is, what lies ahead in terms of media platforms? With some more traditional companies struggling to see social media as a valuable tool, it is clear that some marketing professionals have their work cut out for them. Tom Coombes’ advice is to show executives compelling statistics, and give examples of competitors using social media. Any companies putting off social media are in danger of coming too late to the game. Both the panel and the delegates agreed on the importance of Twitter. In contrast, Facebook was flagged as one of the less useful tools for B2B marketing. According to Tim Weller Google+ may be the B2B marketing tool of the future, so watch this space!