“The top three things that we see changed by the pandemic are the transition to digital marketing from demand generation, selling only through digital channels, and finding the right way to connect with buyers that are in market,” says Brian Giese, CEO, True Influence, in an exclusive interview with Talk CMO.
TCMO Bureau: What are the top three things you see completely overturned by the pandemic – in terms of marketing strategies?
Brian Giese: The top three things that we see changed by the pandemic are the transition to digital marketing from demand generation, selling only through digital channels, and finding the right way to connect with buyers that are in the market. This means we have to regroup and change our strategies as marketers to address this new way of doing business. And we have to consider that organizations’ priorities and budgets may have changed. We are seeing digital marketing growing rapidly in the last few months while demand generation is flat and slightly declining (see graphic below). The importance of digital channels for B2B companies has increased significantly. According to a McKinsey & Company report, sales leaders on average rate digital channels approximately twice as important now as they were before COVID-19. It also shows that customers’ preference for digitally-enabled sales interactions has jumped significantly.
How we sell has also changed. There is no more traveling to meet with clients or potential customers. The crisis has accelerated digital intent transformation, forcing everyone into more digital marketing. As a result, B2B marketers are having to learn a lot of lessons very fast, while their revenue objectives haven’t gone away. According to a recent McKinsey & Company report, almost 90 percent of sales have moved to a videoconferencing(VC)/ phone/ web sales model.
The best way to connect with customers or potential customers is to speak in their language on things they care about and when they care about them. Timing is everything. That’s where data comes in. Buyers do a lot of online research, and comprehending the topics that interest them the most gives you a solid footing to start or continue a conversation from their point of concern.
Our intent data spotlights the buyers searching on certain topics by paying attention to their searches and context. This allows you to respond in ways appropriate to their place in the buying journey. By using data to provide relevant content, you improve your chances of a conversion and a relationship.
This graphic is an example of how we are looking at intent by state. The graphic on our website is a real-time visualization that allows visitors to drill down into each state to see which industries and companies within those industries have the biggest intent to be in the market.
As an example, this graphic identifies the industries that are showing the most intent in the state of Texas.
TCMO Bureau: What changes do you see brought about in customer preferences or behavior during the global crisis we are currently in? How is True Influence geared to meet these new demands?
Brian Giese: As with all companies, our customers had to make adjustments to the way they do business, including moving all employees to work from home, readjusting budgets, possibly having layoffs, and completely shutting down for a period of time for others. As I discussed above, the importance of digital channels for B2B companies increased significantly and we are working to utilize those channels to maintain constant support and contact with our customers. Our biggest commitment to our customers throughout this pandemic is to maintain our quality customer service.
As a way to stay connected and provide additional value for our customers, or anyone in the B2B industry, we have been doing videocasts with key industry leaders and posting them on our website. These videocasts provide valuable information for B2B companies on managing a company, sales skills, marketing strategies and more.
TCMO Bureau: How significant a role do you think influencers will play in purchase decisions going forward?
Brian Giese: We see buying groups as the biggest influencers on purchasing decisions. Access to accurate buying group data is critical to any successful marketing campaign and for revenue generation. A buying group is comprised of individuals across the enterprise and can include IT, data science, purchasing, finance, and other job functions. Capturing the buying group and each of the individuals’ behaviors –neutral, positive, or negative – allows marketing and sales to develop a strategy that is targeted toward these individuals. It’s also important to understand the key personas in a buying group. They have different buyer roles and may participate in different stages of the buying decision process.
TCMO Bureau: What innovations do you see on the technology landscape for marketing teams?
Brian Giese: One of the biggest innovations I see is the use of advanced technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). We developed our True Influence Relevance Engine™, where advanced analytics using natural language processing, machine learning, and AI to analyze web search behaviors and page content focused on identifying intent data. The intent data is then compared to behavioral levels forming a baseline. The baseline is compared to current activity for every individual. The advanced analytics use variables for 6,500+ topics (hardware, software and service solutions) that are essential to B2B markets and to identify billions of intent signals.
Brian Giese is Chief Executive Officer of True Influence, which he co-founded with Chief Technology Officer RK Maniyani in 2008. Brian is a recognized thought leader in marketing and sales process, analytic CRM and database marketing, with more than 30 years of operational experience.
Brian drives True Influence’s vision of combining innovative technology with marketing expertise to help businesses connect with the right B2B purchase decision-makers. He is passionate about how the smart use of data can improve marketing ROI and fuel higher revenues.
Brian is a life-long learner, mentor and coach. He holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Villanova University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Maryland.