We’ve all seen them this summer. Teenagers and twenty-somethings, often in groups, walking the streets, parks and public places. Eyes on their smartphones, fingers flicking at the screens as they attempt to capture a valuable Pokémon. Since July, millions have become part of the Pokémon Go craze. This augmented reality phenomenon – one of the most popular mobile apps of all time with 130 million downloads, and it’s still growing – has players using their smart phones to target, find and capture Pokémon.
For B2B communicators, the popularity of Pokémon Go is a preview of how we all may use augmented and virtual reality to communicate with our audiences in the not-too-distant future. For now, the game itself also provides a number of lessons and reminders of how we should approach B2B communications in sectors such as advanced manufacturing.
Identify High-Value Targets
For today’s B2B communicators, simply generating millions of impressions across a range of target audiences is not nearly enough. Like Pokémon Go players, we have to recognize that different characters have different value for our business. Catching hundreds of “Pidgey” does not add up to capturing one rare and valuable “Dragonite.” The same principle holds true for our target audiences.
Research and insights can help identify high-growth micro-communities that have the potential to deliver maximum value for specific businesses. With those communities prioritized in our communications plans, we can further tap insights and advanced analytics to develop personas that help us fully understand the needs, challenges and opportunities inherent in the characters we are targeting. Only then can we most effectively engage key influencers and decision makers in productive communication. In fact, according to a recent study by Aberdeen Research Group, 50% of “Best-in-Class” companies align marketing content with buyer personas, as compared to 12% of laggards.
Go Fishing Where the “Magicarp” Are
A Pokémon Go player who wants to find a “Magicarp” (a fish-like Pokémon) has to find a river or a lake. To do battle against other Pokémon, a Pokémon Gym is a good place to go.
With the growing number of channels at our disposal, this basic communication principle is more relevant today than ever. To connect with B2B audiences, you have to find out where they are finding information today and where they are communicating right now.
Traditional channels such as trade media, trade shows and conferences remain incredibly important. In fact, the trade show industry – 82% of which is B2B – is poised to grow by 2.7% in 2017, according to research by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).
To truly engage our micro-communities, however, we must continue to tailor and evolve our approaches with these channels. At a trade show, for example, is a high-traffic exhibit the best way to lure them in? Or would a targeted pre-event digital campaign, encouraging key decision makers to meet with your experts one-on-one during the show, be a better option? Are you engaging in event-driven social conversations before, during and after the event?
Not surprisingly, digital and social channels – including search, websites and LinkedIn – are increasingly the place where B2B communicators can target trophy fish on a more regular basis. In a recent B2B Buyers Survey Report from Demand Gen, 68% of B2B buyers said web search was one of the top 3 resources that informed their research, while 54% had websites in the top 3. In the same report, 81% said LinkedIn was important to their research process.
Many B2B communicators, however, fail to capitalize on the true power of these channels by opting to use them only as a way to broadcast messages to their followers. A more targeted approach can allow us to effectively engage our micro-communities in effective digital and social dialogue. Social listening, for example, delivers the opportunity to engage key influencers in important conversations as they happen. Paid social allows us to target our audiences according to demographics, locations, job titles, companies, etc. – it allows you to target the followers of key media outlets or even your competitors.
Capture Attention with Audience-Focused Content
Just because you initially engage a pesky, high-value “Magmar” does not mean you get to keep it in your Pokéball. If you lack the proper supplies (“raspberry,” “great ball” or “ultra ball”) the Pokémon can escape, with little chance of offering another opportunity. This same thing happens when B2B communicators broadcast brand-centric messaging instead of audience-focused content and thus allow high-value audiences to escape their sales funnel.
Recent research from Microsoft Corp showed the average attention span is down to eight seconds. That number (which is shorter than the attention span of real-life goldfish, according to the study) will continue to fall even more as our B2B audiences operate in hyper-connected, hyper-active business environments – jumping from meeting to meeting and using mobile devices to constantly communicate and consume content that serves their own purposes.
According to Demand Gen Report’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey, more than half (51%) of B2B buyers said they:
- Rely more on content now to research their buying decisions than they did a year ago
- Value content that includes independent voices — thought leaders, third-party analysts and peers
- Continue to gravitate toward shorter, more visual content and easily digestible formats such as infographics, case studies and blog posts
Whether via e-mail, news release, infographic, blog or Tweet, B2B communicators must also set the right context. It’s not about your company, your news, your experts, your great new product. It’s about how your company, your news, your great new product and your experts can make your target audiences more successful. The difference may seem subtle, but it’s huge.
Level Up by Demonstrating Winning Outcomes
Pokémon players “level up” by capturing the most Pokémon they can and evolving them. B2B communicators must adopt the same winning principle in their measurement efforts. Winning can no longer be achieved by simply measuring and showcasing the success of a campaign or program. We have to use analytics, insights and digital tools to help us demonstrate that those successes delivered business value and outcomes. In our new reality, we have to think beyond impressions. Showing how your efforts inspired actions from your targets – helping pull more leads from your micro-communities into the sales funnel for example – will make you a true “Gym Leader” for your company.