Implications for B2B Marketing
Here at Slingshot, we talk a lot about how marketing to business-to-business buyers should be similar to how we market to consumers. Just because someone comes to work with a briefcase in hand doesn’t suddenly change them into a different person. The principles of Marketing in the Age of Distraction® apply as much in a B2B environment as they do in any other environment.
B2B audiences are just as distracted as consumers, maybe even more so. The same proliferation of stimuli (cellphones, tablets, etc.) exists at work as well as at home. But instead of multitasking in front of the television, they’re doing it during conference calls or while streaming a webinar or music at their desks.
There are a number of reasons for this attention deficit:
First, the proliferation of open-office environments. According to the International Facility Management Association, 70 percent of U.S. offices have low or no partitions. There have been a number of articles written about the effect of these open environments on concentration. If professionals are having a hard time concentrating on their jobs, how focused do you think they’re going to be on your message?
Second, most of us are doing a lot of things that used to be handled by a more robust administrative staff. The role of the administrative assistant is quickly going the way of the dodo bird. And in case you haven’t noticed, deadlines are not getting any less aggressive. Those who are lucky enough to have some support staff probably share them with others. This means your potential customers are probably purchasing their own travel, planning every aspect of their business trips, looking at a map to get to their next meeting and ordering cookies for next week’s birthday party, all during time that used to be spent on, oh, let’s say, reading a trade magazine.
Third, the computer. Admit it; 95 percent of your job is spent in front of a computer. If you’re a member of corporate America, you’re reviewing emails constantly, and every document is sent to you digitally. Most workers are now doing the work of what used to be distributed among two or three others. Between general Internet surfing and social media checking, office workers are interrupted—or self-interrupt—roughly every three minutes, according to academic studies. Once off track, it can take 23 minutes for a worker to return to the original task, says Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, who studies digital distraction.
But it’s not all bad news. Here’s the good news: Your message has the opportunity to be that distraction. The approach, as with the general consumer audience, is to be personalized, unexpected, and to reach them where they’re already paying attention. Here are some tricks:
- Pay attention to time of day: Business audiences often go online immediately after lunch through early afternoon, so that’s when your message has the best chance of hitting home. Mornings are generally too hectic.
- Pay attention to days of the week: Most studies indicate that Mondays and Fridays are bad times to reach a business audience. You’ll find them most apt to be engaged Tuesdays through Thursdays.
- Consider social media and online radio: Most people don’t think of social media or streaming audio to reach business audiences. But remember, that’s often where they distract themselves. So don’t rule out targeting business buyers on those networks.
The point is this: A customer is a customer, whether you find them at work, at home or somewhere in between. The key to reaching your B2B customers is to insert your marketing message wherever they are already paying attention within their B2B environment.
In the last two decades our culture, and therefore our behaviors, have gone through a sea change. This is largely due to the impact of the Digital Age on how your customers are living their lives. It calls for a seismic shift in how we think about marketing, not just a tweak of our tactics.
Over the course of Slingshot’s 20th anniversary year we will examine this shift with a deep look at the new lenses through which all marketing and advertising decisions must be made. We will help you learn how to "be the butterfly" that captures attention in the age of distraction.
– Owen Hannay, Founder and CEO, Slingshot