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A Connected Generation Is Modifying The B2B Playing Field

Posted April 2, 2015

A Connected Generation Is Modifying The B2B Playing Field

Posted April 2, 2015

By Zachary Smith.

As 20- and 30-somethings progress in their careers, a natural course of events brings a fresh perspective, optimism and innovation. Include concepts that are based on the world they grew up in and weave the combination into a workforce that is forever evolving, and the world of buying and selling has never been more complex.

Though it should go without saying, marketing teams must realize that a generation that never knew life without the Internet is stepping into B2B decision-making roles. Knowing how to effectively reach out and pique their interest by using various online platforms is vital.

Several case studies, expert testimonials and perspectives offer older professionals insight and advice on promoting your brand to a generation raised entirely in the realm of the Internet, cell phones and digital media. Adweek did an infographic last summer that highlights millennial’s increasing role in B2B marketing.

‘Social’ B2B generation
The millennial generation, which consists of people between the ages of 22 and 35, has ushered in an era of business interactions almost entirely based on social media and mobile technologies. When it comes to purchasing, this age group favors a hassle-free and personalized approach that incorporates data, efficiency and trustworthy cohorts.

While a common buying process for this group consists of social media feeds and texting to target the right crowd, a personal approach is included. After promoting and initially targeting an audience B2B marketers realize the personal message solidifies a brand experience. They follow-up with a prospective client via an old-fashioned face-to-face meeting.

Not what you’d expect
A 2014 Google study that included about 3,200 B2B researchers found that millennials currently make up about half of business decision makers across all industries, according to a study from google. Three years ago, that figure was about 25 percent.

The same study also concluded that although C-level executives have the final say in purchasing for most businesses, some companies are now incorporating lower-level executives into the buying cycle. For these business leaders, the prominence of social media and increased desire to engage a broader audience—both millennial traits—were factors.

Anyone looking to promote a brand to the younger audience should consider online presence. About 70 percent of B2B decision-makers today begin their product research through a generic online search. This means, that rather than investing in a branded search that has been a long-standing technique, millennial decision makers are closer to a decision once they visit your site than they would have been employing a branded search.

While video has gained popularity in B2B marketing, millennials click on a brand video not solely to gain awareness but also use it as a guide through the entire buying process.

While industry trends and reports provide a template for B2B marketing practices, several experts and executives still differ on the most effective strategies to engage a younger workforce. Some leaders advocate for shifting B2B marketing processes to online media exclusively, while others insist a multi-tiered approach should be the objective.

Peter Friedman of the American Marketing Association says that while the younger generation realizes the relevance of social media marketing, the group may not necessarily be more proficient with a comprehensive and complete marketing plan. Friedman says that to run an effective marketing campaign in today’s B2B environment, businesses would do well to incorporate social media into the entire campaign.

‘Show me the numbers’
A 2014 IBM report revealed that younger decision makers are more inclined than their older counterparts to rely on analytics to make quick decisions. Given the nature of this age groups’ tech/smartphone proficiency, marketing teams should consider their data strategies as part of any campaign.

Just as the millennial professionals rely on data in their decision-making, they know very well—and have accepted—that marketers and advertisers collect data on them. To increase the chances that millennial B2B decision-makers and influencers will engage a brand, marketers should be able to summarize and share how the data relates to them.