Professors Share Observations on the State of B2B Marketing

b2b-marketing-ebookI recently participated in a project with the Oracle Marketing Cloud where they interviewed marketing professors about the state of B2B marketing and how they are using that knowledge to develop curriculum to train the marketers of the future. It was an esteemed panel of professors, including:

  • Barbara Kahn, Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
  • Josh Murdock, Professor of Educational Technology & Social Networking, Valencia College
  • Mark Schaefer, Marketing Consultant, College Educator and Author, Rutgers University
  • Peter Fader, Professor of Marketing, Co-Director of Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative, The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
  • Eric Bradlow, K.P. Chao Professor of Marketing, Statistics, and Education, The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
  • Jessica Rogers, Graduate Social Media and Marketing, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Jeffrey L. Cohen, Distinguished Lecturer of Marketing Analytics and Social Media, Ball State University (hey, that’s me!)

Download the entire ebook here (registration required), but in the meantime, here are my answers to the questions.

1. What is the number one thing marketers may have lost sight of?
Too many marketing activities are siloed from the top-level business objectives of a company, and are not measured against metrics that others in the company care about. If your executives follow daily, weekly or monthly numbers related to things like sales, customer retention, cost savings and customer satisfaction, then reporting softer marketing numbers will not win any points with those executives. Marketers need to find ways to tie their efforts to those business metrics.

2. What are your observations with respect to the nuances of the B2B and B2C marketing disciplines?
As a lifelong B2B marketer, and co-author of The B2B Social Media Book, B2B marketing makes sense to me. No matter what techniques you use, you are ultimately driving prospects into a buying process where you can track where they came from. While selling through a distribution network can complicate things, a company sales rep, or someone no more than a couple steps removed away from the company, handles B2B purchases, making tracking possible. I have never understood how Coca-Cola marketers can track their efforts to sell a bottle of Coke at the grocery store or convenience store. This action is too far removed from their brand marketing and advertising to attribute action to particular campaigns.

3. What do you think a B2B marketer can learn from B2C or vice versa?
B2B marketers can learn creativity, creating an emotional response and storytelling from the B2C pros, and B2C marketers can learn more about calls-to-action, attribution and leading a buyer through a journey from their B2B brethren.

4. Can you compare and contrast the curriculum that you’re teaching and the current roles and responsibilities of today’s marketers?
I am teaching students about the importance of their public, online presence and how to keep up with a constant flow of information in their industry. This would not be an explicit part of their marketing role, but an understanding of this will make them stronger marketers. Traditionally, it has been social media savvy folks on the team who really understand how to build a personal presence and follow all the right sources in a manageable way, but these skills are important as a solid foundation for all marketers.

Students learn how to create and analyze social media marketing campaigns that resonate with customers, B2B and B2C, and are based on solid marketing and business principles. Proper goal setting and how to review analytics to understand success are also a key part of my learning objectives. This fits in with the skills and requirements of marketers in the field. Marketers create campaigns, analyze competitors’ campaigns and review the success of their own efforts.

5. What will you teach my future employees this year?
I start by explaining the difference between personal social media, which is what most college students do, and professional social media. They need to understand the importance of a professional profile, not just on LinkedIn, but on all social platforms, if they are going into marketing. This is part of the transition to the working world. I tie social media to business results and the basic principles of marketing, so students understand the value of social media to an organization. I go though major and minor social platforms, looking at current examples and best practices, so students have an understanding of what is happening right now in social media marketing.

Please download the ebook here to learn what the rest of the panel thinks about the state of B2B marketing and how education feeds into it (registration required).

6 iPhone Apps For Your B2B Sales Team

A lot of talk is happening around the importance of mobile in the future of B2B sales and marketing. The future is great of course, but today I wanted to share some mobile applications that are available today. We all know that it is critical that B2B sales teams have the tools and information they need to succeed. Because of this, many organizations are switching to the iPhone as the device of choice for its sales teams.

One of the great things about the iPhone platform is the huge diversity in applications available. However, that is also its biggest problem. Busy sales people do not have the time to comb through the app store and see which applications could help them. Today, I share with you 6 B2B iPhone applications that could help make your sales team’s life a little easier and I encourage you to share this post with them. This list spans from mobile CRM apps to simple tools that may make sales travel a little easier.

Please note that all the links below connect to the application page within iTunes and you will need to have it downloaded to see the full application details.

Milebug icon
1. MileBug Mileage log
Price: $3.99
When you are a sales person constantly on the road, it is the little things that can drive you nuts. One of these is keeping track of your mileage and separating personal and business travel. The MileBug application helps solve this problem by making it simple to keep track of business and personal miles while traveling.

milebug screen shot

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2. Sales & Commissions
Price: $1.99
Keeping track of sales and commissions is critical, especially for small businesses. This straight-forward application aims to do just that, by helping you record and track sales across a sales team. While large sales organization likely have their own system for this, the Sales & Commissions application could be ideal for independent sales people and small business owners.

sales and commision screen shot

Oracle Icon
3. Oracle Mobile Sales Assistant
Price: Free
Many large B2B organizations use enterprise level CRM systems to help manage sale sand prospect data. If your business uses Oracle, then using this mobile application is an extension of the work you are already doing. Oracle packs the features of its CRM software into a mobile application that can help make sure sales can enter and access data from the CRM system.

oracle screen shot

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4. Local Radio Finder
Price $.99
Ever travel across multiple states in a car? Many sales people do it every week. One annoying thing is not knowing what radio frequencies are in the current town you are in. The Local Radio Finder app is simple and makes it easy to see all of the FM and AM stations in a town so that you can quickly find the station playing the music or news you want, while you’re on the road.

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airline icon
5. Airline Seat Guide
Price: $1.99
While sales people travel a lot, it is impossible to remember every airplane on every airline in the world. Knowing your airplane allows you to pick the right seat. As we all know the right seat can make or break a long flight. The Airline Seat Guide shows you the seats on every airline around the world so that you can quickly know where your ideal seats are located on each plane.

airline screen shot

Salesforce.com iphone app
6. Salesforce.com
From talking to many B2B businesses, Salesforce.com seems to be the choice for CRM system of choice for many small, medium and large businesses. If you are a current Salesforce.com customer, then using their free iPhone application is a natural next step. As mentioned with the Oracle application, mobile CRM applications that can make the user experience easier can help increase the amount of data that is put into the system and then used to help generate sales.

salesforce.com screen shot

What other iPhone applications do you or your sale teams use to make life easier? Is your organization making the switch to the iPhone?

B2B Apps for the iPhone

Yesterday we joked that there is not an iphone app to help with influencer marketing in the B2B space, so that got us thinking about what iphone applications there are for B2B. While the Blackberry is still the smart phone of choice in larger organizations, the iphone is making inroads into corporate America. The number of available business apps is one major component that will help that growth.

1. The Obvious


Twitter Apps: There are a slew of Twitter apps including Tweetie, Twitterific and even Tweetdeck for the iphone. While I am looking forward to the new version of Tweetie, which should be released any day now, there are small differences between these apps. Each one handles things a bit differently, so you just need to find the one that works for you. Many people stick with their first Twitter app, but you can ask others what they use. Ask them what they like about it.

Social Networking Apps: We have already covered the Facebook app in depth, so what about LinkedIn. This app is mainly focused on your connections, rather than bringing the LinkedIn experience to the iphone. It shows you Network updates, connections and status. You can view your profile, but you don’t have the ability to edit it. The only interactive functions are the ability to update your status, send an invite and a limited search function. The social side of LinkedIn – Groups, Answers, Events – are missing from the app. Hopefully a new version of this app is in development with more functionality.

2. The Enterprise and CRM


The biggest enterprise software companies, Oracle and SAP, both offer iphone apps that feature a small window into the data housed on your corporate network. According to this post, Oracle displays business performance reports, analytics and access to their CRM module, while SAP displays contacts and account information. These are primarily viewers and provide limited interaction with the main system, but that is changing. As the iphone becomes more ingrained in the corporate computing world, mobile employees will have the more ability to update the home office from their smart phones. If your company uses either of these enterprise solutions, explore these mobile platforms with trial versions and start talking up the importance of mobile data.

The leading standalone CRM solution, Salesforce.com has an iphone app that connects to your version of Salesforce.com. Create new leads, convert them, log phone calls, all from a native iphone app that syncs with the cloud version. This free app is a must for all mobile employees using Salesforce to track their business. While “Leads” is featured on the bottom navigation menu, selecting “More” brings up contacts, opportunities, tasks, events, cases, solutions, and dashboards to fully manage all functions from the iphone. A free 30 day trial of Salesforce is available, so you can try out the app and see how it syncs to the web.

3. The Marketplace


Many B2B companies around the world use trading sites, like Alibaba.com, to find products, manufacturers, import and export partners. There is an iphone app called World Trade Center, which calls itself a B2B hub with one-click access to top sites, B2B facilitators, and products. It costs $2.99, so I have not downloaded it to see how it works. It does not look very elegant, and may be not much more than the links shown on the front screen. If your business regularly uses sites of this nature, this mobile app may be of value to you. As more people go mobile, this is sure to be a growing category of apps that interact with online trading partners. If you have used this app, or something like it, please let us know below.

4. Resources


And finally, if you are looking for information and ideas about B2B marketing and social media, Marketing Profs has an iphone app with a B2B marketing section under the More menu item. These articles provide summaries of posts on the Marketing Profs site and other sites. While every post includes an upsell to Marketing Profs membership options, this app provides good content that is easily consumed on the go.

And finally, I used this post as an opportunity to add a Word Press plugin called WPTouch, that optimizes this blog for the iphone, and other touch screen smart phones, so you can more easily read SocialMediaB2B.com on your iphone.

So if there are other iphone apps that you have found indispensable in your B2B world, whether to manage Social Media, Marketing, or Business in general, share those with our readers below.