Written from confinement in Paris, France
By Nick Heys, March 19th, 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has derailed lives around the world. When this is all over, the world will be a very different place.
Today, B2B marketers and sales professionals are facing an unprecedented challenge. Last week, I talked with the VP marketing of a leading global manufacturer who complained that all of their trade shows had been cancelled, representing over a third of their total marketing budget. Furthermore, their sales teams are suffering from a travel ban and losing the customer touch points that they had relied upon for decades.
I asked the VP marketing why they were still so reliant on trade shows, events and face-to face meetings now that we live in the digital age. He shrugged and said that this is the way they always done it and that their sales reps love schmoozing customers face-to-face. He was well aware that modern digital marketing alternatives were available, but they kept on doing “analog marketing” out of habit.
Habits are hard to break because they are deeply wired, by constant repetition, into our brains and company cultures. Habits are also patterns of behavior and it is the breaking of patterns that is the key to breaking the habits themselves. But these patterns are also usually wrapped in larger ones: This is where routines come to run our lives. Overall these routine behaviors make our lives easier. They keep us from having to reinvent the wheel of our daily lives by making an infinite number of decisions all day long, which in turn provides us with more brain-space to think about other things. The downside of these routinized patterns comes when they produce diminishing returns.
Manufacturers are often referred to as “digital laggards”. Last Summer I discussed this with Steve Casey, principal analyst for B2B marketing at Forrester. He told me that manufacturers may have missed the marketing automation movement over the last 10 years, but account-based marketing represents an opportunity for them to make a “great leap forward” and catch up with the more advanced verticals such as technology or financial services.
Manufacturers needed something to break their old habits. I believe that COVID-19 is the Black Swan that just did it. This is the turning point for the digital transformation of B2B marketing in manufacturing. This is why we have just seen a sudden surge in interest for Account-Based Marketing (ABM) solutions at Jabmo.
A 2018 study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research revealed that B2B marketers who participate in industry events earmarked almost 40% of their budget to exhibitions and trade shows. In the manufacturing industry alone, this represents billions of dollars that will be spent on modern digital marketing methods such as account-based advertising and ABM platforms.
When this crisis is over, we will look back and view this event as the driver of the great leap forward in B2B digital marketing.
Nick Heys is a marketing technology entrepreneur and the Founder of Jabmo.