February 25, 2018

Why B2B marketing will become more visual, vocal, and mobile

The mobile phone has long been an object of affection and obsession for people who like to talk incessantly. But now that mobile phones have become computers that happen to ring, they have become irresistible.

There’s something about having this little device in our pocket that makes it so much more personal—dear, even—than any phone or laptop. (Desktops? I haven’t loved a desktop since my Mac Classic; besides, you can’t even really call them desktops anymore because we do everything we can to hide them from view under our desks, so no love there.)

More than smart
We root for our smart phones to become gifted. I’ve never been as vigilant about new application development as I have since the App Store came along.

And which apps really make us catch our breath? The ones that give us more freedom of time and place. Mobile also drives a craving for immediacy. Inevitably, it’s going to drive us back to our roots as visual storytellers. And that is important for marketers. Increasingly, we are going to have to deliver our messages visually for mobile devices. Here are some reasons why:

  • Mobile drives substitutions for the written word. I’ve often cursed Steve Jobs for not making an external keyboard that would attach to the iPhone (that would be the end of my laptop altogether). But when you see an iPhone app that lets you dictate voice into text with reasonable accuracy (for free), you start to wonder. And when it’s possible to do live, streaming video from your iPhone, you start to realize why Jobs isn’t making the keyboard a priority.
  • The cloud drives mobile to the center of computing. The emergence of the cloud is making these devices more independent. Google is offering offices in the cloud so that corporate IT systems become little more than sync devices for all the work being done away from a desk.
  • Mobile drives an urge for immediacy. The hottest collaboration applications on mobile are those that duplicate the immediacy of a phone call. One of the great lures of Twitter is that we know that it is always changing. IM and texting would be nothing without the real-time dynamic.
  • Mobile makes everything visual. Why have the iPhone and the Droid taken off? Because we can now see into our phones. We can see what others are doing. Even the words are visual now. Would you dream of Twittering without a profile photo or image? And who can resist the river of content that moves before your eyes? Twitter is every bit as visual as it is textual. And nowhere is the visual more dramatic than on your personal mobile device.

What does it mean?
For B2B marketers, this means that video and interactivity are something we need to be thinking about and doing now. Our target audience is ready. For example, a Forbes survey found that C-suite executives are more likely to make the time for a video than other executives. Sure, there are technical issues. Video search isn’t great yet, though it’s improving. But video case studies and interactive product demos—even for B2B services—are going to become more popular on mobile devices. And as mobile devices become our computing devices, that means B2B buyers are going to have a greater appetite for the visual.

What do you think?

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  • Chris, I like your thoughts but I still think we are far away of imagining what might be possible one day in B2B marketing. I am searching for it. Yes, mobile will change the way a b2b marketer works. But how does it change the relationship with the prospect/client? Does it have any effect on the buying center, on the epiphany stage? I don’t know. I guess the essential advantage mobile could deliver would be location based services (Gowalla, Foursquare or from Germany dailyplaces). But when is the location important in B2B marketing? In events, expos. There I can imagine mobile/location technology to help in B2B marketing. But I still have the feeling the monumental business case is not there yet.

  • Chris, I like your thoughts but I still think we are far away of imagining what might be possible one day in B2B marketing. I am searching for it. Yes, mobile will change the way a b2b marketer works. But how does it change the relationship with the prospect/client? Does it have any effect on the buying center, on the epiphany stage? I don’t know. I guess the essential advantage mobile could deliver would be location based services (Gowalla, Foursquare or from Germany dailyplaces). But when is the location important in B2B marketing? In events, expos. There I can imagine mobile/location technology to help in B2B marketing. But I still have the feeling the monumental business case is not there yet.

  • Hi Torsten,

    Good points. One of the trends we’re seeing at ITSMA is that no one form of marketing is standing out as preferred by buyers above all others. Partly, I think that is driven by the preference that buyers have always expressed for peer discussion and referral. They want to be able to collaborate and communicate more with their peers and social media and mobile both help drive that. B2B buyers have been telling us for years what their killer app is–peer collaboration–it just hasn’t been easy to do it. Mobile and social are going to make that easier. But it will take time.

  • Hi Torsten,

    Good points. One of the trends we’re seeing at ITSMA is that no one form of marketing is standing out as preferred by buyers above all others. Partly, I think that is driven by the preference that buyers have always expressed for peer discussion and referral. They want to be able to collaborate and communicate more with their peers and social media and mobile both help drive that. B2B buyers have been telling us for years what their killer app is–peer collaboration–it just hasn’t been easy to do it. Mobile and social are going to make that easier. But it will take time.

  • Nice one.
    I’m a big believer in mobile for B2B but, so far, have only managed a few nibbles from clients when we propose it.

    One was a virus alert app for a security vendor.

    I do think it’s important to think about utility for B2B mobile marketing: giving prospects something that’s especially useful for when they’re out and about.

  • Nice one.
    I’m a big believer in mobile for B2B but, so far, have only managed a few nibbles from clients when we propose it.

    One was a virus alert app for a security vendor.

    I do think it’s important to think about utility for B2B mobile marketing: giving prospects something that’s especially useful for when they’re out and about.

  • Doug, I would be very interested to see a bit more of that mobile apps. Is that possible?

  • Doug, I would be very interested to see a bit more of that mobile apps. Is that possible?

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