The growing demand for all things "on-demand" -- from our entertainment to our business information -- is rapidly changing how B2B customers and prospects want to learn about your products and services.
Posted Sep 4, 2007
On demand. Real time. Right time. Today's catchphrases are more than market hyperbole; they articulate a monumental shift in how consumers want to receive information and are a wake-up call for businesses to adapt or perish. For marketers in particular, this evolution means traditional information-dissemination and message-delivery strategies just won't work anymore.
To succeed in today's increasingly flat marketplace, marketers need to understand how the advent of an "on-demand" mentality has led to numerous changes in the way business professionals deliver and consume critical information. People want customized, personalized communications and they expect to receive information at their convenience.
Time and place are no longer relevant to the successful delivery and consumption of marketing information. In fact, as more and more business is done away from the office, on the road, and via mobile devices, paper-based, in-person, time-specific marketing information is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. To ensure your marketing activities are meeting these new demands, let's discuss the three primary drivers behind the on-demand trend and how your organization can take advantage of the industry evolution.
Attention spans are shorter in today's on demand society
Customers are exposed to an increasing amount of data and information each day -- from radio to TV, blogs to Web sites, instant messages to text messages. Given all this content available at their fingertips, people have less and less time to spend digesting individual sources -- and less patience for messaging that does not quickly grab their attention. In order for people to consume your messages effectively, you need to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible for potential buyers to learn more.
Consider the stages of the buying process. In the early stages of the buying cycle, prospects are less "invested" in examining your offerings. It's even tougher if you are trying to uncover latent needs -- reaching those who are still as yet unaware of the benefits they could attain from your offerings and not actively searching for solutions such as yours. At this stage, prospects are rarely willing to take time out of their busy day and give it to a vendor. Reading through reams of information, or even requesting their participation in a live one-hour Webinar is asking quite a lot given busy schedules -- after all, time is money. Marketers need to make it easy for prospects to consume messages -- available when those prospects want it and in the format they prefer -- whether online or offline, during the day or after work hours.
Marketing has a greater responsibility to educate the prospect
Today, it's far too costly and risky to rely upon sales teams alone to educate the prospect. Marketing is tasked with a greater responsibility for educating buyers, and aims to deliver a consistent, compelling message to guide buyers to the next logical step -- or so the department hopes.
The challenge is that buyers are overwhelmed with information, and most of it looks the same -- will your brochure or your landing page really make a difference? That is, assuming anyone reads it?
Today's on-demand communication technologies help you successfully educate prospects by delivering more compelling and measurable communications. You can get your best experts in front of your prospects at a time that is most convenient -- their own time. It can make all the difference in securing a sale -- but it has to be scalable. Tools for experts to record their topic presentations can be as easy to use as the telephone, and this is critical to socializing this form of communications across your organization. To create the customized, timely messages that are relevant to your prospects, you can no longer take weeks of time and skilled developers to create this form of content. The format has to be easy and accessible to business people -- and for marketers, product managers, CEOs, and other thought leaders to play a part in delivering valuable, timely content for buyers to get to know you, your company, and the value you provide.
Marketers face growing pressure to demonstrate ROI
The recent business emphasis on transparency and compliance has finally reached the marketing department. There's no complacency these days when it comes to costly and traditional long-term marketing campaigns; today's marketers are under intense pressure to justify activities and demonstrate tangible ROI. Additionally, marketers are being measured not only on lead-generation programs, but also how they supported the success of those leads.
For instance, on-demand lead-generation tools can now identify who has viewed your message, for how long, and what their corresponding level of interest was. Similar sales-measurement tools are also available to help identify which leads are being used and at what point in sales process, who is consuming messages, and how those messages are resonating with prospects. This presents an unprecedented advantage to marketers, providing immediate feedback on marketing outreach and support. Instead of waiting weeks or months after running a campaign to gather results and analyze the data, organizations can now get real-time information on how well messages are resonating, know which messages are most valued by the prospect, launch followup while interest is at its highest, and accelerate revenues.
Clearly the requirements for marketing have changed drastically. However, by understanding these market drivers and embracing the evolution of how consumers want information, you can harness the power of on-demand communications to develop more effective and more profitable marketing programs. Users want customized, personalized communications and they want it delivered on their terms -- whenever the real time or right time may be.
As a marketer, seek to provide a rich, easy-to-use, on-demand format that prospects will be willing and eager to experience. Deploy simple, robust tools that can quickly and easily communicate individualized messages, while providing the opportunity scale to help maximize resources and revenues. But balance customization with high-value interactions, ensuring each communication brings valid information and insight into the sales process. Finally, recognize the on-demand mentality is not just for prospects, but for your organization as well. Make measurement your mantra to address ROI metrics head on with tracking and reporting capabilities for lead generation and ongoing sales efforts. By leveraging on-demand technologies and services, you can ensure your messages are delivered according to the communication mediums audiences require, maximizing your marketing results and propelling your organization to success.
About the Author
Joe Gustafson is CEO of Brainshark, Inc. Brainshark helps business communicate. The company's patented software empowers any business person to easily create, deliver, and track high-impact, voice-enriched presentations.
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