Deb Wolf, CMO for Integration, shares his views on the challenges marketers face and how to overcome them.
When we visualize the buyer’s perfect journey, we look at it from a marketing perspective and wonder what we want to achieve with our proposals. Ultimately, however, the definition of the perfect trip lies in the eyes of the buyer. The buyer doesn’t really care about your programs, your channels, or the technology you use, they’re just trying to get enough information to make a purchase decision.
We recently spoke with Deb Wolf, General Manager of Integrate, about the perfect way for the buyer and the barriers for marketing teams to deliver the ideal customer experience. In the upbeat conversation below, you’ll find Wolf-specific tips for connecting isolated channels, technologies, and teams and why they’re so important today.
Q: As a B2B buyer and marketing expert, can you share your thoughts on the buyer’s perfect journey?
A. When we as customers purchase technology or marketing services, we want to understand the mission of the company with which we do business and its products and resources. We want to understand which customers are using their solutions and what value they derive from them.
There is a natural flow of information that customers are looking for, and it is not linear. As with any B2B purchase, there can be 16 to 20 potential people involved in the decision-making process, and we all have different needs. My opinion about approving the purchase decision differs from the system user. They will look for more information about the functionality, while I look for more value. And your shopping needs, be it our privacy or personal security, are completely different from what we as users need.
Therefore, it is ideal for the buyer to personalize the experience of those looking for information about their business. As marketers, we must treat our buyers the way we want to be treated.
Where do we stop making connections?
Q. Can you describe some of the different silos we see in marketing today that prevent us from achieving the buyer’s ideal journey?
A. Silos usually exist in four different marketing areas: channels, technology, data, and your team. Ultimately they are connected, but I think it really starts with the teams and the way we work.
Marketing teams have many experts and few generalists. Opportunity marketers plan opportunities. Making a professional question provides clues. The PR team focused on the media they captured. And some of these marketers, if any, go through the buyer’s or account’s entire journey.
In fact, we have no role within the marketing organization whose job is to build the buyer’s horizontal path. This must be done through the team’s collaboration to create the experience we want to deliver. Few people really think about the impact the entire experience has on our potential customers.
If we think of our demand channels as streets – where each field is different in its own way – it seems that our teams sometimes compete with each other. Everyone wants to be the first to talk to the customer, be the first to receive an orientation credit, and so on.
Nine times out of ten, we hear from marketers that they want to surprise customers with the right content at the right time. And they can describe what they consider to be the buyer’s last journey. But they get lost when it comes to it.
There is a lot of technology involved. This is one of the other challenges. Each of these channels is related to a different part of the marketing technology stack. Many marketing organizations today can include more than 50-60 different technology components in their packages.
If you ask a marketer what the core of their system is, they’ll tell you it’s a marketing automation system. But they will also say that their communications team uses different technologies to track the coverage. Organizers rely on the technology they use to register people for events and scan badges on the floor.
The biggest challenge is all the data this technology creates. The data comes from different channels and isolated technology campaigns and ultimately the marketer wants to understand everything.
Thinking about all these silos can help you summarize how your team works, the technology they work with, the channels they operate on, and ultimately the data they create.
How did we get here?
Q. How do you think we got here? How did we get to where we had all these silos?
A. My theory is that we have a group of well-meaning marketers who are driven to success – this is one of the natural qualities you see in the marketing personality in each of the different areas we talk about.
What usually happens is that you have a marketer who thinks, ‘My job is to do it. I have a budget for that. And finally, I live in a world where I do everything I can to be successful.
Part of this separation between disciplines comes from the fact that marketing teams are decentralized – they can live in business units, they can have local bases, and now we all live remotely. Discussions that took place over a drinking fountain no longer even take place over a drinking fountain. I think it starts with our teams, how we perfect the job, and think about how we do it.
D. It makes sense. What are the consequences of this situation for the buyer?
A. When I think of these weak buyers, they focus on one thing, which is finding the right solution to the problem they are trying to solve.
In the past, in a traditional B2B sales engagement, buyers worked individually with the seller and this was very personal. Sellers answer questions and provide buyers with the information they need. But now marketing takes up more space.
However, we are often unable to provide buyers with the information they want, which ultimately prevents them from believing in our brand. It’s a branded experience from the moment they start looking for your organization. And if you can’t provide them with an excellent customer experience, I don’t know if you’re a good supplier to compare with.
Many B2B buyers are now heavily consumer-oriented. They expect the B2B buying process to be the same as the B2C buying process, but that’s not the case. When you look at B2C and consider how advanced we have been in understanding consumers’ purchasing needs, try to reflect this in the B2B buyer’s accounting needs or broader decision making, I think we are leaving the buyer behind entirely. Ultimately, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth and a bad impression of your brand.