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Evolving Digital, Changing Marketing - An Insight into the Future

October 30, 2018

Shinnosuke Minami
New Projects Leader
Marketing Dept.

About the Digital Summit

On 26-27 September, I attended the Digital Summit Chicago.

A workshop at the Digital Summit

The Digital Summits are a series of tech events held throughout the year in 18 different cities across the United States. At the summits, prominent industry figures introduce the latest digital marketing tools, techniques and trends. My colleague, Christian Brown, has written a separate Column on tech in Chicago and sessions at the summit.

At this year's Chicago Summit, we heard about the founding of Netflix as well as behind-the-scenes insights to creating a “buzz” on Twitter. Regardless of industry, the summit is a great place to get hints on present and future digital marketing trends.

LinkedIn's Thoughts on B2B Marketing Trends

At Digital Summit Chicago there were five tracks offering a variety of different sessions, so attendees could join those that best serve their interests. This Column will introduce LinkedIn's Peter Weinberg's session “The Future of B2B Marketing: Trends for the Contrarian Marketer.”

Need to Know Trends

Peter Weinberg stated that “in B2B marketing, changes are occurring faster than most in the field appreciate, therefore, it's necessary to question conventional wisdom, and rethink brand building and revenue generation.” During his presentation Weinberg introduced five trend changes, in this Column I'll introduce three of them.

Trend 1: Netflix Marketing

First, was the importance of customer-centricity – something which digital was meant to enhance through data-driven right-time, right-content delivery. However, according to cited Infolinks research on corporate buyers, those buyers only considered 3% of digital marketing relevant. This implies that most current day B2B marketing isn't client-centric and that online marketing isn't delivering.

As an example of successful B2C marketing, truly based on the customer-first principle, Netflix's movie thumbnail artwork was introduced. Netflix provides bespoke movie artwork that matches customer tastes, so even for the same movie there may be numerous artworks! For customers who often watch romantic movies, artworks displayed are associated with romance, whereas for customers who often watch comedies, artworks displayed are comedy-related. It was likewise noted that movie descriptions also change. Such customer-first principles of marketing are all data driven.

As a first step to realizing marketing with customer-first principles, we need to create personas based on real-time client data rather than just formulating personas on prediction and experience, which, Weinberg argued, most B2B marketers currently do.

Trend 2: Gap revealed by LinkedIn's Research

The second was that the client places much value on “thought leadership”. However, as noted by Weinberg, there was a significant gap in the value attributed to “thought leaders” between B2B marketing staff and their clients.

In research revealed by Weinberg, 49% of B2B marketing staff believe that “thought leadership enhances a company's credibility”, however among B2B clients the number who believe the same passes 80%. This implies that thought leadership is being seriously undervalued by marketers. However, regarding marketers who do offer thought leadership, only 44% of B2B clients stated they get any value from it.

Based on this, in future B2B marketing, there's a need for marketers to promote their internal thought leaders' value to clients (such as through offering seminars, sharing published content in books/journals etc., promoting content by employees who are well-known in the industry, etc.)

Trend 3: Blockbuster Marketing

The third was “blockbuster marketing”, a concept based on the business model of Hollywood movies and forecast as an important marketing model of the future. Weinberg stated that currently most marketers imitate the business model of the newspaper - always on and continuously adding new content. However, blockbuster marketing is the doing the exact opposite of this - having a more focused approach i.e. not marketing that continuously adds new miscellaneous content but is diversified around large hit content.

As an example of blockbuster marketing, the release of Hollywood movies was introduced. Weinberg displayed a slide showing the lineup of Disney movies from 2017 to 2019. Among the 19 movies for the period only three were completely new concepts, while the other 16 were based on/related to existing content.

So rather than focusing on adding new content, it's important to tell fewer stories and then nurture that content into a blockbuster. Then, once you have a blockbuster, it's possible to earn money by deploying sideways from there. For example, with the "Star Wars" series it's possible to also make games and toys etc.

In the case of B2B, blockbuster marketing also leads to brand building and discovery, as well as creation of demand. At that time, client selection and education are also important.

Main Session Point

As the title of this session, “The Future of B2B Marketing: Trends for the Contrarian Marketer”, the trends introduced were contrarian. When viewing the current B2B environment, it may seem that implementation of the above-mentioned trends is unlikely. However, in the near future it's possible that adaptable B2C marketing techniques may be reworked for B2B as well. While being a contrarian marketer is often viewed as making errors of judgment or trouble making, being different but right may yield better results than planned, conventional decision making.

That's a brief excerpt from Peter Weinberg's session. I feel that trend changes in B2B are very rapid - so what has until now has been conventional thinking is fast becoming outdated. Recently, I felt a sense of unease with current trends and wasn't certain of the best path forward. However, from this session, I learnt how leading companies are rapidly responding to trends and that it's important to develop a similar mindset within our own company to offer relevant, up-to-date services.

In Closing

Feelings on the Summit

Attending this event, I acquired insights into approaches used by the world's leading tech companies and how they perceive the flow of the industry. The pace of change in marketing is speeding up and this trend will continue in the future. Corporate marketing staff must understand the trends of the times to adapt to changes in the environment. In this Column, I've introduced changes in marketing frameworks, however, I also feel that it's necessary to have up-to-date knowledge of digital tools and websites.

As a marketer within the digital industry, it's necessary to simultaneously comprehend large-scale trend shifts whilst collecting information on tangible methods of implementation.

At Mitsue-Links, we regularly hold seminars for outside companies. Seminar themes include introductions to UX, video utilization, design trends and so on, please see here for an overview of past seminars. I hope that you can come and enjoy the seminars given by my expert colleagues (please note: at time of writing all scheduled seminars are in Japanese).

On Chicago

For those who've have read this far, I'd like to add that Chicago was a wonderful city with the most amazing architecture and street life. Below are a couple of my photos.

Chicago Cityscapes: left, view from Willis Tower's 103rd Floor; right, downtown at sunset after a rainstorm