What Marketers Can Learn from Tapas: Interview with Bryan Eisenberg

 In B2B Marketing, Data Science

Bryan Eisenberg, internationally recognized authority and pioneer in online marketing and New York Times bestselling author (Buyer Legends, Call to Action, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?), sat down with us to discuss the growing intersection between marketing and analytics. Bryan is also the co-founder and Chairman of Emeritus of the Digital Analytics Association and recent founder of two Austin startups, Idealspot and BuyerLegends.com.

As a little league coach for his son’s baseball team, Bryan reminds his players: be better today than you were yesterday. In our interview, he urges marketers to do the same by putting themselves in the customer’s shoes—the foundation for exceptional, ROI-driven marketing.

What do you think should be marketers most important must-keep resolution for 2015?

Get mobile. Think about the impact the internet has had in last 20 years – what we’re seeing in mobile today is what the internet was in the 1990s, but it’s accelerating so much faster because people have more experience. Most companies cannot keep up, driven by the fact that mobile puts devices in everyone’s hands. Everything that’s going on – videos, social, etc. – you have to be structured as a business to deal with. It’s a different mentality that requires a mobile-specific strategy. Try thinking about it this way: a desktop experience or physical experience is like a four course meal. For mobile, people are in there for a snack. Often times, poor mobile marketing overwhelms people with information when really mobile should be like serving tapas – just a taste of something delicious. This is one of the reasons video is growing so much, because it’s very easy for people to consume. In sum, in order to engage with people, there must be an ability to do it on mobile, and an agility of marketing strategy to take advantage of those mobile opportunities.

How often do you see marketing teams make data-centric decisions?

To some degree, I am seeing marketing teams increasingly making efforts to use data to make decisions. However, what’s important here is not just the fact you are using data to make a decision. Rather, it’s what decisions marketers choose to use data for, and how that data plays a role in shaping marketing choices. For instance, big data has been around a long time and people have tried to process and analyze it. But the issue with using data has been the fact that aligning the customer journey with the marketer’s vision by having an analyst look at the numbers is not an empathetic approach. In order for this to make a real difference, those metrics need to be tied into customer stories and journeys (what we call Buyer Legends) that help the marketer develop and embrace empathy for the customer mindset. And that is what is changing about the way marketing teams make data-centric decisions – dealing with data isn’t just about numbers, but using those numbers to derive real-life empathy and understanding for the buyer journey.

Is B2B marketing catching up to B2C and why is it a different bear?

B2B marketing is the most difficult job imaginable; it’s amazing and exciting, but you literally have to be able to work in quicksand. A decade ago, marketing was challenging when you even just start thinking about putting up a website. Now think of what it is today, how much and how fast it is evolving, and how the buyer journey changes in B2B. B2B marketing has been lagging, but it is also closing the gap; if you look at current marketing trends, B2B is really catching up to B2C. For instance, today’s best B2B companies are spending a lot of time listening to and dealing with customer service issues. They are on the front lines dealing with customers face-to-face, because the message is about using technology to get you to that end-to-end experience.

In your years of consulting and advising B2B marketing teams, what are some of the most common miss-steps you see happening?

It’s really hard in a B2B world to step out of the fact that you’re involved in your own product and industry 60+ hours a week. Your typical customer may give you a few hours of thought, but that is much different than the level of knowledge and passion that you bring to the table. In other words, B2B marketers have a curse of knowledge, and thereby struggle to have real empathy for our customers’ experiences in and knowledge of the space. This inability to have empathic intelligence is probably the source of biggest disconnect in today’s B2B marketing world.

You do a lot of public speaking, and advise a number of emerging companies; what questions do you get asked the most? What concerns or pain points to you hear about on a daily basis?

The biggest pain point is that companies are forgetting the customer. That is why we developed the Buyer Legends process, so that data-driven marketers can create customer-centered experiences that are supported by narrative. When marketers ask me questions, I hear concerns about what’s on Forbes 20 Top Trends for 2015 – questions on how to optimize gains with techniques like email marketing, social media, SEO, native advertising. But if you look at all those different pieces, one thing is missing: the customer! We get so caught up in jargon and business techniques that we forget marketing is about our customers and understanding their goals – that when we help a customer accomplish his/her own goal, we, in turn, accomplish ours. In short, we prioritize specific tactics and neglect the larger strategy of our jobs as marketers to make the customer a hero on their buyer journey, not ours.

What marketing challenges to do face? Do you have tips on how to become a more empathetic marketer? We want to hear! Tweet us: @6senseinc.

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