BMA15: Google Exec Says B-to-B Marketers Need to 'Change Our Game'

In Opening Keynote, Jim Lecinski Points to Implications of Millennial B-to-B Buyers

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In the opening keynote presentation Wednesday at BMA15, the annual conference of the Business Marketing Association in Chicago, Jim Lecinski, VP-U.S. sales and service at Google, said b-to-b marketers need to "change our game" to reach an exploding audience of millennial b-to-b buyers.

Google's Jim Lecinski
Google's Jim Lecinski Credit:

His presentation, "The Changing Face of B2B Marketing," presented some of the top findings from recent Google research, conducted with Millward Brown, on the "B2B Path to Purchase," and implications for marketers.

One of the key findings is that 46% of b-to-b buyers are now millennials, up from 27% in 2012, when the survey was last conducted.

"If our buyer is changing, then we as b-to-b marketers need to change our game and pivot how we grow, change and sell our brands," Mr. Lecinski told nearly 1,000 b-to-b marketers attending the conference. "Are you considering this influential 18-34 audience as your primary target when you're building b-to-b marketing campaigns?"

He played a 60-second TV spot called "Woo Woo" for Adobe Marketing Cloud, which shows how marketers can blow it when trying to market to millennials if they don't truly understand their needs.

In another finding from the Google research, the number of key searches b-to-b buyers make when researching a product or service doubled from six searches in 2012 to 12 searches in 2014.

"Do you know what those dozen searches are for your product, your brand, your category and your business?" Mr. Lecinski said.

He said that among those searches, the number of brands b-to-b buyers were considering dropped from more than three in 2012 to just one or two in 2014.

One strategy marketers can use to reach b-to-b buyers while they're searching is to "export your website to this new millennial buyer on the sites where they are."

He pointed to a campaign Google worked on with Boeing, in which it exported key elements of Boeing's website to places where b-to-b buyers were searching, based on what they were looking for.

A third implication from Google's research is to create a mobile-first experience, Mr. Lecinski said. According to the research, 80% of time spent consuming media is now done on mobile devices, and 42% of b-to-b searches are being done on mobile devices.

"This means your first job is to be an excellent mobile marketer," he said. "Make sure you have an outstanding mobile site experience for your b-to-b users."

He said software company VMWare has done an excellent job creating a mobile-first experience for users by providing an easy way to take actions, such as contacting reps, from any mobile device.

Finally, b-to-b marketers need to make sure they have a digital-ready product portfolio, Mr. Lecinski said.

Pointing to consumer apps and behaviors, such as Uber, connected homes and time-shifting TV shows, Mr. Lecinski said, "Millennials are bringing those same expectations to the b-to-b space. This is good news if you're a digital-first, mobile-first startup. If you're an incumbent, it's a call to arms."

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