In B2B Marketing: Tomorrow’s Best Practices Today, we feature expert interviews about the state of B2B Marketing and what the future holds. In this post, I interview Anu Ramani, Founder and Managing Director, Isoline Communications.
Tell us about yourself?
I have been the eternal outsider for much of my working life.
Working as I did in Chennai, Singapore, Hong Kong, London and Lagos, I have worked with teams from more than 30 countries and speaking dozens of different languages. After more than a decade working in Asia, being the only English speaker in a meeting, or being the only woman in a meeting with a tech client, is normal for me.
I’ve been lucky to work with great colleagues, clients and bosses everywhere, who valued my perspective and what that brought to the table. Finding out how things work really gives me a buzz, and I love the challenge of taking complex concepts and technologies and figuring out how to get people to understand them.
Tell us about your background in B2B marketing?
I am even more specialised than a B2B marketer, believe it or not, I’m a tech B2B marketer!
After a degree in computer science convinced me that a life in coding was not right for me, I went on to do an MBA with a specialism in marketing.
I started off selling watches in rural India to dealers and distributors, dipping my toes into the B2B world right then, where conversations were driven not by the elegance or accuracy of a watch but rather the margin and popularity of a particular model.
I then moved to advertising and worked on the world’s largest tech B2B brands in campaigns that covered dozens of markets in Asia-Pacific.
Note: Follow Anu on Twitter (@anu_ramani).
I entered PR, where I stayed for over a decade, moving from Hong Kong to the UK to Lagos (in Nigeria) in the process. Gradually, I became convinced that as far as tech B2B marketing was concerned, sales enablement and differentiation would be best delivered through content marketing.
I took the plunge, started my own business, and here I stand!
What’s a best practice that B2B marketers should move on from?
Viewing B2B marketing, especially tech B2B marketing, as something totally unique or distinct from B2C marketing.
In recent months, we are seeing these conventional, single-format campaigns gradually being replaced with multi-format campaigns incorporating B2C elements. Stuff like shorter form factors, graphics and multimedia, that allow auditory, visual, kinesthetic and other types of content that’s tailored to users’ needs, and appeals not just to the rational but also the emotional.
Note: Read a related post on the Isoline Communications blog, “B2B and B2C: A True Tech Content Marketing Love Story?”
Tell us a best practice of tomorrow that B2B marketers should be doing today?
B2B marketers and especially those within the tech vertical, need to take each target customer on an individual content path that is tailored to their stage in the purchase process, and their own velocity of progress through this process.
The technology exists to do this effectively, all it takes is a little bit of planning and handholding through the early stages of the process.
How has GDPR affected your clients?
“GDPR hasn’t really affected responsible marketers adversely.”
This might be a controversial stance to take but, in my opinion, GDPR hasn’t really affected responsible marketers adversely. In fact, it has made their jobs easier by weeding out those who were engaging in lazy marketing practices.
Companies are having to work harder than ever to ensure that their audiences have a legitimate interest in the content, and to make it easy for target audiences to opt out of communications and databases that they believe aren’t right for them.
You work with clients in the telecom industry. Tell us about that?
The bewildering pace of technological change is the biggest challenge facing telecoms B2B marketers and their target audiences.
From IoT to cloud communications to blockchain to the fast-paced world of fraud, the fields are changing faster than audiences can adapt to them. Hence, Marketing is having to evolve to educate and differentiate in an accessible, non-geeky way.
To do this, clients are having to make the leap into an outside-in approach to storytelling. While this might sound simple, it often involves a huge upheaval in organisational behavior.
How are PR and content marketing similar? How are they different?
Both PR and content marketing aim to inform and educate target audiences about the differentiators associated with a particular solution or technology, but content marketing is more effective in a sales enablement scenario.
What’s the future of B2B marketing?
“We’re going to see a greater role being played by social media, with social ambassadors and advocates becoming more active across categories.”
B2B marketing will become more and more sophisticated, incorporating various new types of targeting and personalization technologies to deliver incredibly sophisticated, relevant campaigns on an almost 1:1 basis.
Measurement and results evaluation will improve in sophistication, and more savvy marketers will invest in them to ensure continuous fine tuning and improvement. And we’re going to see a greater role being played by social media, with social ambassadors and advocates becoming more active across categories.