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The State of The B2B Marcom Industry

  • B2B Marcom
  • Pondering the B2B Marcom state of the industry as I headed to the meeting in Manhattan.

    Heading home with a head full of awesome ideas and opportunities.

    Heading home with a head full of awesome ideas and opportunities.

    I am a member of the Media Advisory Board of the American Business Media. We met at the ABM offices in Manhattan yesterday for an excellent meeting which included representatives from media, agencies, education, and advertisers (like myself).

    The questions we were posed included:

    • What are you experiencing?
    • What are you doing about it?
    • What can you offer to help others in these times?

    So many great ideas were put on the table (I love learning from plugged-in, enthusiastic people).

    One thing became clear - we are ALL faced with CHANGE. The insightful Matthew Egol (Booz & Co) sighted his company's evaluation of this concept in the article titled, "Digital Darwinism". In essence, the new tools available to customers and advertisers allow tremendous change in their habits. This changes the relationships between advertisers and media & agencies, between customers and ads & advertisers, etc. You don't HAVE to change, but everyone and everything around you is.

    In this ABM board, we are fond of saying, "We are all in this together". I'm not so sure that this is 100% accurate any longer. "We" (advertisers, agencies, customers, media) were in it together ten years ago, but, as new tools allow advertisers and customers to connect directly, some groups get left out (in some ways). So, it is easy, at first blush, to conclude that we may not need certain organizations any longer. That simplistic notion devalues all the experience, wisdom, and capabilities that exist throughout the current supply chain - and that can continue to exist. I am settling into the notion that we need to regroup and realign. We are all becoming different things to each other.

    Some people can't handle the change, others will be fine. But, to succeed, to change, we agreed that we all need to:

    • clearly generate compelling information (in the form of content <from a supplier>, in the form of goals <from the customer>)
    • define our new process (our business process, our communications process, our information gathering process, etc.)
    • identify the critical actions and steps in our processes
    • determine the value in each action and step

    That last point: We need to understand the value we derive from (or input into) the process. Why? So we know how much money SHOULD change hands. Face it, no one wants to overpay, and no one wants a valued supplier to wither and die. Without this understanding, we don't know WHAT to charge/pay for, or how much. Without this data we become very inefficient.

    This seems to be a major stumbling block for many. In my many discussions with media we always seem to get stuck discussing NEW ideas and OLD value models.  Quick example: I make it clear I want to sidestep the Rube Goldberg-based model of crafting and placing ads to attract attention to generate interest etc. - and declare that I just want to purchase CUSTOMER CONTACT. The media person totally agrees then pushes their rate card across the table and lets me know that, by purchasing ad space, I can (maybe) get some contacts. They get it, but they (some) just don't get it.

    This ABM event was excellent as it generated sincere and honest assessments of the situations - and concluded with some exciting ideas for a path forward. It will certainly require input from many - and it will be challenging. But it is necessary.

    It is an honor to learn from such accomplished and bright individuals.