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From coffee houses to social networks

21st century conversation in an 18th Century venue.

Strategy

Fran Brosan

FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN

Fran’s focus is advising clients on the strategic role that digital communications and technologies can play in strengthening business performance. She is author of Omobono’s award winning research programme ‘What Works Where in B2B Digital Marketing’ and has 3 IPA Advertising Effectiveness Awards to her name.

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We hosted another of our B2B Dinners in partnership with The Marketing Society last night at Soho House in London, where 20 senior marketers gathered in a panelled 18th century dining room to share their views on how 21st century technology is shaping the B2B marketing environment. Josh Graff, Director of Advertising Solutions at LinkedIn, kicked off with a view on how the economic outlook is impacting on the buying process. From their research marketers are increasingly micro-analysing responses and looking, as ever, to prove ROI. Interesting then that our What Works Where in B2B Digital Marketing study shows that, at 15%, twice as many marketers as last year are not measuring ROI and have no plans to start. Does this mean they have simply given up or are they using other measures to monitor the success of their digital engagement?

Steve Henry (of Howell Henry fame, now founder of extremely interesting Decoded) talked about the value of listening in the marketing process, something social ably contributes to – so arguably direct return is simply the wrong measure.

Perhaps we should be looking at whether it drives efficiencies.

Reducing research costs, driving down new product and service development times or reducing business failures by allowing you to co-create with your customers. That’s a long way from ‘did we get and convert a lead’. The new 0 – 60.

Josh also referenced the HBR statistic that buyers are already 60% of the way down the decision making process before suppliers are even aware that they are being looked at. With the result that suppliers are slipping off the selection list before they knew they were on it. That’s a massive reason to think about adding a service such as Lead Forensics, our latest technology partner, to your web analytics. Their service enables you to recognise visitors by corporate IP address and be alerted to their visits to your site, even if they have not contacted you directly. Highly recommended.

Overall, it was obvious that social in B2B was here to stay.

As much of the discussion centred around the need for internal engagement, a brilliant version of which from one multinational was their Buddy system, which pairs digital natives with less digitally able employees to learn about social media in a supportive environment.

Data accuracy came out as the biggest challenge, even for those who had implemented marketing automation systems already – whether in terms of the accuracy of simple things like customer email addresses, or more complex abilities to recognise that a customer might be the same despite interacting with two different parts of the company.

In conclusion, the value of sharing with other people in your business is immeasurable, and fun. And there was a pleasant ‘wheel comes full circle’ feeling about where we were doing it. Just like the London coffee shops of yore, where business news was exchanged and people recommended, Soho House last night was about doing just the same. Although being 21st Century, we’ll all be linking in on social networks afterwards.

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