Professional B2B marketers have had to reinvent themselves several times over the past 20 years. First there was the evolution from producing offline print content (brochures, white papers, etc.) to also producing online content (websites, blogs, demos), and having to learn the new tools and tactics (e.g. SEO) that came with it
Then the rise of content marketing, which is a solution to the rejection of sales-oriented materials. Salesy content and mind share gains via repetitive ad exposures became much less effective as the sources of online information skyrocketed. Marketing content evolved to more highly targeted information that is relevant and useful to the reader.
Next came social media. New tools, platforms, processes and metrics. All the while, as the web evolved to support larger files sizes, the content became more visual. Fewer words and more graphics and images. With social, we also saw a rise in storytelling as a vehicle for grabbing and holding attention.
Two years ago I noticed three phenomena that forecast another major evolution in B2B marketing:
- With the rise in the number of distractions (constant connection via tablet and smart phone), attention spans were shrinking.
- Business people were (and are) BUSY. The recession reduced the number of workers at most companies, and those remaining had to take up the slack.
- Ubiquitous broadband infrastructure (via fiber optics and wireless transmission), and screen devices capable of receiving and rendering multimedia, eliminated any physical limitations to delivery.
Show and Tell
Multimedia is clearly the way to produce and deliver B2B marketing stories that prospects are willing to consume. Human beings are literally hard-wired to pay attention to stories, to remember them and to share them with others. By combining all the above (incorporating text, graphics, images, audio, video, etc.) in a story format, information concerning your complex products and services can be delivered in less time and in a way that grabs and holds attention. Of course, this is easier said than done.
There’s so much to learn regarding the tools and technologies, but the most important new skill I learned had nothing to do with tools or technologies – it’s visual storytelling. Showing a story via sight and sound is a skill that takes some talent… but more than that, it requires a significant investment of time and effort to learn.