When will B2B events return? 1 yr+ is the answer.

I created a video for SoloSegment’s homepage back in April thinking that it wouldn’t age well. It was about the fact that B2B marketers, in addition to the threats of COVID, are threatened by the fact that there are no trade shows going on. A key source of leads has vanished. At the time, I expected to have to update that come May.

I watched the video this morning and I wouldn’t change a thing. Despite the fact that we’re all more comfortable with the new way of behaving–social distancing, wearing masks, staying home–the reality of this virus hasn’t changed. It’s still out there. Sickness is still rising in some places though steady or declining slowly in others. In order to maintain this stalemate with the virus, we’re going to have to continue to be careful.

So when are things going to get back to normal?

For B2B marketers, the big question is when will events come back. It’s hard to say, but a large part of that answer will be dependent upon when people are comfortable with traveling and being in crowded places.

One hint to the answer of that timing may come in a recent NY Times article where they asked 511 epidemiologists when they were going to be ready to change their behavior on a variety of activities. What’s most relevant to us as professionals is that they say they wouldn’t attend a large event in the next year. Are regular folks going to be as reluctant to travel as epidemiologists? I don’t know but I suspect the answer is more yes than no.

So what are you to do in the interim?

As I’ve discussed in several forums over the past few months, you’re going to have to improve your digital engagement game. That means your website is going to have to be more effective than ever at capturing and progressing leads. For those who have a good digital game this likely means shifting focus and spend. For those who have neglected their digital properties, the journey may be more challenging but is doable.

Where should you be investing your time and money?

The key areas that I’d focus on are:

  • Content Marketing – everything starts with the right content. Do you have messaging on your site that aligns with the pain your prospects feel? Do those messages have clear calls to action?
  • Fully Exploiting Existing Tech – many companies have what I refer to shelfware. Great technology that isn’t being fully utilized. What capabilities do you have to increase engagement with what you already have?
  • Fill The Gaps – where you’re missing a piece in your tech stack, personalization is one common area that B2B marketers struggle with, get on that. Your prospects have high expectations that you’ll at least appear to know what they want.

Personally, I doubt I’ll be attending an in-person event of any scale for the remainder of this calendar year. That’s at least six months until I’m ready, absent better testing or a long-shot vaccine, and I may be a little more of a risk taker than many others.

We’re all going to be watching how the behaviors of our prospects and customers evolve during the coming months. But if I were to bet, I would bet that some behaviors have permanently changed. If buyers get used to evaluating products via websites and zoom meetings with sales reps the heyday of large B2B events may be behind us. Digital may finally be your primary way of engaging B2B buyers.

Ready to get started?

If you’re interested in improving your website’s engagement, lead contributions, and conversions, connect with me and we’ll have a chat.

It’s the end of the world as we know it (for B2B Marketing)

End of the world. Hyperbole? Probably. But B2B Marketing does feel a bit broken right now.

The most important tools in our arsenal require people to meet people. That’s not happening. So what now? Where should your priorities be? Website engagement is an area to focus because it’s a good bet (see your analytics data) your prospects are going digital.

COVID-19 doesn’t have to ruin your B2B pipeline

The second quarter is often the peak time for you and other large enterprise B2B marketers to be out at events telling your stories to prospects. Due to COVID-19, we’re seeing many cancellations in industry events during 2Q. The few events that continue on will no doubt be sparsely attended due to travel restrictions at the very companies with which you want to connect. Does this mean the death of your pipeline for 2020 business? It doesn’t if you’re able to get a disproportionately larger output from your other sources of leads.

SoloSegment Announces Acquisition of Thematically’s Industry-Leading AI-Powered Discover Platform

SoloSegment announced today its acquisition of Thematically’s artificial intelligence models and underlying assets, marketed as Thematically Discover, further cementing the company’s position as the leader in B2B behavior-based personalization.

Industrial B2B marketers have an untapped digital opportunity

Industrial B2B marketing lags in digital — in some places more than others.

Some B2B companies love their tried-and-true strategy. They have always gone to market with big trade events, airport advertising, and field sales reps to follow-up on all those leads. If a client needs something, an account exec gets a call, whips out their cape and flies over to the client to solve the problem or make the sale. Industrial B2B marketing has followed these strategies for years. So, where’s the need for digital?

SearchChat Podcast: Is Anonymous Information Really Anonymous?

In today’s podcast episode Steve Zakur and I respond to a recent article that criticized anonymous data, with the main critique being that it isn’t really anonymous. If you can grab the IP address and dig further to find identities, is that really anonymous personalization? Our answer: not really, but that isn’t what anonymous data really is. 

Marketing and MarTech: What’s your approach?

A few years ago, Scott Brinker and the Third Door Media team declared that MarTech is marketing. There is no difference between marketing technology like personalization and just plain marketing. It used to be you’d ask the question “Tell me about your martech stack.” That’s no longer the case today–it would even be perhaps a weird question. 

How Heavy Industry Marketers Deliver Relevant Customer Experiences in a GDPR World

Improving Customer Engagement for Industrial Marketers

Marketers working in machinery, chemicals and other heavy industries have long been behind the digital curve. For many companies, digital hasn’t become part of your repertoire as quickly because of the complex distribution channels and analogue ways of engaging with clients. B2B, especially industrial marketers, have been lagging.

Forget AI expertise. You need domain expertise to succeed.

At the heart of all great businesses are domain experts who are excellent at execution. Regardless of whether the business remains highly analog (increasingly rare in today’s marketplace) or is the latest emerging digital start-up domain expertise and execution wins over technology disruption alone.