Microsoft, the tech giant, has changed its approach to business-to-business marketing to reflect the greater complexity and need for customization in reaching its target audience.
Caroline Keene, Microsoft’s Interim CMO and Senior Director / Cloud Integrated Marketing, discussed this topic at the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Masters of B2B Marketing Conference, which was held online.
And Microsoft’s business-to-business marketers need to understand wider audiences than ever before as the role of technology in businesses changes.
“Over the past few years we’ve seen more complexity in the B2B decision-making cycle with larger buying boards,” she said. (For more information, see the detailed WARC report: How (and why) Microsoft shifted its B2B marketing focus from product to people.)
“At Microsoft, we used to work mostly with the CIO and their department. Now the CMO, CFO and HR are critical to the decision making process. “
One implication for brand managers, Keene said, is that enterprise marketing “is now playing a bigger role [and has] To be there during the entire customer journey, even when customers are not busy with salespeople. “
Customers’ professional lives in the digital ecosystem have increasingly run parallel to their personal online experiences, and this trend has accelerated as many people are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This means they expect more customizations, get the right content at the right time through the right channel, while maintaining a high level of privacy for their personal information,” said Keene.
For technology providers, “the need for agility is even greater [in] to be able to capture customer sentiments and behavioral changes, ”she added.
In order to “meet customer needs, we had to adjust our marketing plan and move to sprint planning rather than annual planning or quarterly planning.”
For Microsoft, the transformation in marketing encompassed culture, skills, functions, and technology – “and not overnight, but over the past three to five years,” said Keene.
And those efforts, she reported, reflect the fact that “having the right mix of talent and education is more important than ever to master the art and science of marketing.”
Obtained from WARC