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B2B Digital Marketing, All Grown-Up

I don’t really see my boss as an overly emotional guy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if I believe he doesn’t have a sensitive side, it’s just that he doesn’t normally go around showing it. (Of course, as I’m writing this he’s uncharacteristically, and gleefully going around the office wishing everyone a good morning. Go figure.). So, one day when his eyes got wide and his face softened up a bit as he started to tell me about the Richard Linklater film, “Boyhood," I realized that there must be something going on that I needed to understand.

Not unlike many of you, I tend to think a lot about my work and I’m especially obsessed about how B2B buyers think, feel and behave. And I’m continually applying constructs from things I see outside of marketing to what I do in the B2B marketing space. Not surprisingly, and seeing that I watch a lot of ESPN, those constructs are usually sports-based. But, thanks to my suddenly emotive boss, “Boyhood” now gave me a captivating new perspective from which to pull.

The film captures how the characters are impacted by both the people in their lives and their external surroundings. Interesting. That feels a lot like how technology and customer buying behaviors have become intertwined through a concept we call “stealth buying behavior” and how this is forcing organizations to view the responsibility of the application of technology - such as marketing automation platforms - differently.

Stealth buying behavior is pushing B2B marketers to adopt digital tooling and technologies quickly while simultaneously blurring the lines in the C-suite. Formerly in the CIO’s realm of responsibility, a shift is occurring. In customer-centric organizations, technology tooling is viewed as an enabler of marketing which leverages the decision-driving authority toward the CMO. The net-net of all of this is that buyers are having a deeper and more meaningful engagement with the brand through technology because of this shift. Such is the impact of the external force of B2B marketing technology and the role it’s playing in this world.

What else did my exposure to this Oscar-worthy film get me thinking about? The overarching premise of “Boyhood” is built around the idea of a 12-year period which directly relates to our school years and is something with which we can all identify. This relevance and familiarity is used as an element of powerful and authentic storytelling. Another interesting factor to consider in what we call the B2B Buyer Revolution.

Rising above the noise and clutter is a common concern. When we use deep insights and data to really understand buyers we can create authentic interactions that are connected and credible. In other words, by creating narratives that buyers can identify with, B2B brands can establish a sense of relevance and familiarity. I would say that’s a good lesson and a sound approach for a B2B marketing brand strategy.

Now, my boss mentioned that “Boyhood” was a little emotional which is guy code for, “I may have had a touch of water build-up in my eyes.” This is typically a red flag for me. But, I have to say that the genuine and human aspects of this film are a good reminder that B2B brands must work harder to be human.

The notion of “being human” is something more of our clients are starting to embrace and it’s leading all of us down some exciting new paths in B2B marketing. Most B2B companies claim some sort of efficiency or performance value around their products. But, that alone isn’t good enough anymore. Buyers are human and therefore buy with emotion. B2B brands need to help satisfy both the pragmatic and the human side of a buyer’s needs.

So, you may be wondering if my eyes suffered from water build-up when I saw “Boyhood.” I’ll answer that by asking you a question: Did Seattle Seahawks fans cry after the Super Bowl?

Topics: General