Thursday 1 April 2010

Seth Godin at B2B marketing forum Amsterdam: Remarkable or invisible

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending Seth Godin's speech at the B2B Marketing forum in Amsterdam and he did not let us down - I am a fan [and willing to spread his ideas]!

This forum, focused on sales and B2B marketing professionals, was the first of its kind in the Netherlands and by all accounts attracted a large audience for its first edition. Let there be many more editions - well done Shimon and the team.

It was held in the prestigious Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, which has always been my favourite park, specially because it brings back fond memories of my stint in the team organising the PICNIC festival.

Anyway, back to Seth Godin ... although the stories and the theme are always the same, he remains a very motivational and entertaining speaker. The message for B2B marketing professionals was still relevent; "You still need to be, or offer something REMARKABLE. It is not about the features or even benefits, but about ideas. Don't interupt your target audience, engage and entertain them, so they are willing to spread your ideas. All companies are in the FASHION business now."

So here is the catch, the majority of companies are just mediocre, with mediocre products and mediocre services, so they need sales and marketing professionals to create a buying vision and sell because otherwise their products are not going to sell themselves.

This brings me onto some new stuff I picked up during the conference, which apart from seeing Seth, made it all worth while. Of course it is all about the buying cycle and not the selling cycle that is not new. However when Adam Needles from Silverpop presented research which showed a break-down of the time spent by buyers in different purchase stages, I had not realized that the percentage of time spent by the buyer "acknowledging" that they have an issue/problem was actually SO HIGH ...

... 80% of their time is spent on "acknowledging" they have a problem, probably because they think if they wait long enough the problem will go away! This was an eye-opener and it totally re-enforces the point that sales and marketers should spend the majority of their time on EDUCATING not selling, educating requires thought leadership.

Anyone else spot the disconnect? Yep you got it, sales feels most comfortable SELLING, closing the deal, taking very hot leads, from people who have stuck up their hand and said "yes I want to talk with you", and then converting them into orders.

This dilemma is compouned by the fact that with the internet, buyers don't even need to speak with a sales person. In fact 70% of business buyers prefer to do all their research online and speak with their peers and identify the best solution themselves.

In research that Adam presented, buyers use the internet extensively to research purchases, then talk to current users and then to the vendors themselves. When this behaviour is mapped to a standard funnel the sales and marketing dilemma becomes even clearer and screams education vs selling strategies, which requires sales and marketing to collaborate even more closely than they already are!

But there is silver lining ... there are more channels [think social media] available to enable sales and marketing professionals to dialogue with potential customers and educate them around the problems/pains they maybe facing and give them ideas and point them in the right direction - this is where thought leadership is important. On the flip side, it is important not to abuse those channels and overtly sell your company or products, it is too early in the buying cycle as the result will be to turn potential customers off.

There are many more interesting take aways from the event, but more of that another time. Needless to say Seth engaged and entertained me and I am very willing to spread his ideas!


Emiel van den Boomen said...

Thanks for posting your inspiration! I also attended the forum and indeed Adam Needles showed some remarkable figures.

The biggest challenge is how to reach your potential buyers directly and in exactly that time frame when they are searching for solutions to their problems. Luckely buyers spend 80% of their time on that, so we as marketing managers have a lot of opportunities!

Unknown said...

I wish I could've been there! Seth Godin is my hero :)

Fred | O'Malley Hansen Communications