[ik-sper-uh-men-tey-shuh n, -muh n-] noun
- the act, process, practice, or an instance of making experiments.
We have embarked upon a time in the business-to-business technology marketplace where an exciting trend of using experimentation to source innovative ideas, diverse connections, and game-changing solutions is critical to disruptive marketing. A phenomenon that has been omnipresent in digital and creative consumer landscapes, this thirst for innovation is now stretching across sectors and industries, moving faster than a Facebook recruiter undercover on the Google campus.
Oh hello sexy software startup, welcome to the brand party.
The echoes of consumer-facing brand giants hangs in the balance of whether well-funded B2B whippersnappers can truly day trade in the currency of attention or steer toward a strategy of safety and security.
The latter is far more likely. Unless of course you are Facebook or Google.
Experimentation is a dangerous word and is often equated with “winging it”, rather than an attempt to extend insight and knowledge. In an ecosystem where KPIs and carefully calculated metrics are fundamental to the growth and scale of B2B technology companies, experimentation loses and sameness wins. More often than not. Yet despite the potential gamble, it is inspiring to see the thirst to drive innovation, and even the smallest leaps of faith stemming from Silicon Valley and Startup Alley.
At the core of this shift is the realization that, in order to create meaningful connections, brands need to start behaving more like people.
In order to create meaningful connections, brands must start behaving more like people.
Customers are demanding that companies connect and engage in new ways; to be more transparent, empathetic, open and authentic.
For B2B organizations, brand has never mattered more. We are hyper-connected to the prospect, the influencer, and the customer. Digital marketing platforms and social media channels allow brands to connect and serve their audience in a much more dynamic, transparent, and human way, often in the context of strategic, collaborative relationships.
And so today, the role of B2B brands goes much deeper, and they need to be managed differently.
Yet still, despite this knowledge, B2B companies do not manage and invest in their brands to the extent that consumer-facing companies do. Instead, marketing leaders give a shot every now and then, with little to no strategy whatsoever.
And we wonder why experimentation looks a lot like winging it.
But really, it’s true and it’s what drives my passion with the 31south team to push the envelope in the B2B ecosystem that is specifically centered around hitting metric milestones. Innovation is stifled because marketers are hell-bent on the science of carefully calculated lead capture, not the art of persuasion that consumer brands have unequivocally mastered.
I’m no scientist. In fact, I’m so far off the chart of crowdsourced creativity, that I will commit to standing on the corner of Grand Central Station with a tablet to coerce people into sharing their contact details instead of developing a fatigued inbound funnel of lead generation.
Because sixty percent of the time, it works every time.
As a B2B SaaS marketer with an innate drive to champion brand building and cultivating experiences, I am drawn to Maya Angelou’s wisdom that says;
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Herein lies the crux of innovation; we must communicate like humans, to humans.
When I stepped into unknown tech territory, my frame of reference for startups stood somewhere between the season premier of Silicon Valley and The Internship. I spent significant time scouring search engines and identified the industry’s top influencers. I gathered enough data to affirm the inkling that the art of creating indelible experiences would ultimately catapult B2B brands into the top echelon of consumer marketing meccas.
The experimentation with edgy, provocative and never-done-before campaigns were successful not because we could accurately measure impressions, but instead an unforgettable story stemmed from an experience that would be told over and over again.
We are not machines, despite advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning to amplify workflows, but deeply connecting humans yearning for connectivity to something bigger than ourselves.
To quench that thirst for innovation, to keep consumers and customers alike, salivating for more insightful and meaningful experiences.
In the frightening process of driving innovative ideas, fail fast, fall forward and practice intentional, unbiased reflection.
What are your thoughts?
How can brands truly leverage the innovative and creative ideas that consumer-facing brands disseminate to their raving fans and customers, while remaining focused on the company’s vision and mission for growth and scale?
This piece was originally written and published for Silicon Beach — a two-day conference hosted in Bournemouth, U.K. featuring some of the world’s most strategic thinkers, creative doers, and digital innovators.
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