It Doesn’t have to be Boring

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virmaniSumit Virmani, Global Head, Corporate Marketing, Infosys

There is a lot of excitement going on in B2B marketing. To come down to two specific things that stand out above the others is one is the buying centers remain the same but the buyer profile has changed dramatically. In the B2B space in 2014, 89% of the buying decisions were made by millennials either directly or under significant influence, we are talking about people aged below 35 making significantly large buying decisions.

Second we are moving from a digital also world to a digital first world. Digital content is no more the key it’s the kingdom itself. Digital is becoming mainstream for the buying audience we talked about. 77% before speaking to a sales person go on to digital and scan content.

In my mind digital has democratized the entire B2B marketing. It’s not important anymore how much marketing dollars you have, it’s only important if you have anything interesting to say. As long as you have that and you have power digitally you can go out there and really make a splash. I think it is also a critical element of creativity to humanize it.

The second dimension of digital and the most endearing one for me is the “here and now nature” of the brand. You can actually go out there, experiment, and test your hypothesis in almost real time. GE is one of my favorite brands in terms of how they leveraged digital. They make the 747 engines; they used Instagram to actually publish the images of 747 while it is in development, it’s real time.

The third dimension from the creativity perspective is I think we all need to be conscious of, is at some point in time is B2B ends up becoming boring as long as we allow it to become boring. There has to be an element of humor we don’t see unlike in B2C. How can we make it happen? I think digital once again gives you the leverage to make it happen without really pumping in millions of dollars. Take the example of Cisco’s perfect gift for Valentine; this was done 5-6 years ago. It really breaks through the clutter for 80,000 dollars a server as a perfect gift for Valentine?

The Adobe CS 6 campaign, the scavenger hunt conducted across San Francisco promoted leveraging all the digital channels. There are 3 million views to their website as a result of that social campaign. There is enormous scope for creativity in B2B. Digital is the channel; if you haven’t leveraged already it’s high time you emulate the learnings of some of the best brands in the world.

So, what are some of the challenges from the changes you are making from an organization stand point? The reality is the market is moving at a fairly rapid pace and some of our competitors are moving faster than we are. The question is how do you catch up first and how do you quickly march ahead.

How to make B2B Marketing Fun

The question is how much of the mundane task of marketing have we automated to give people time to actually do, leverage content marketing and have time for creativity? What we don’t talk about enough is the unique perspective that people bring to the table. The other element that has worked well for us is that we have encouraged getting fresh talent and also from across industries.

The third challenge is the ROI in marketing and creativity is no excuse, it’s still the core focus of marketing is deliver on the ROI. I believe creativity in marketing gives you an opportunity to accelerate that ROI rather than be an excuse to not deliver on the ROIs. We are focusing on talent, celebrating the curious idea and encouraging more of that, maintaining strict focus on ROI and that’s possibly the only way B2B marketing will maintain its seat in an organization.

Excerpts from Sumit’s talk at Great Indian IT Marketing Summit organized by Paul Writer (