Monday, October 27, 2014

B2B: It’s Not Just Robots Anymore

Gary Slack Keynotes AMA Regional Conference

 +Gary Slack from Slack and Company was our keynote speaker at Aurora University’s +American Marketing Association Collegiate Conference last Friday October 17th at Aurora University.  The event attracted over 300 students from 35 Universities nationwide to network, compete and learn about marketing and career options in marketing.  +Aurora University now has the largest Collegiate Conference in the country. Gary is the Chief Experience Office and founder of Slack and Company, which in 2014 received awards for best B2B Marketing Agency from both Ad Age and the Business Marketing Association.

b2b marketing, american marketing association, slack and company
Gary Slack, CEO of Slack and Company, Addresses AU AMA Collegiate Conference on "B2B Rising"
To kick off the meeting, Gary said that over two-thirds of marketing is B2B (I have heard it is closer to 80%) and that he hoped to encourage students to go in to B2B Marketing.  He said it is a great space to consider working and that there is a lot of opportunity in B2B.  B2B in the past was considered bland compared to B2B, but that is no longer true.  For example, Google is a B2B company, making most of its revenue off of business advertising.

Gary said what really has changed is that B2B marketers have assumed in the past assumed they are marketing to robots. Marketers assumed that the decision was only rational and that there was no emotion.  Therefore, the marketing approached had to be cut and dried and factual.

B2B Marketers Suffer from FUD

However, Gary said that B2B Marketers have a lot of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) and that the fear is that a person will make a bad decision and ruin their career.  The prices are higher in B2B and the stakes are higher if you make a bad decision.  Impulse items at the grocery store carry little risk or fear.  The old adage use to be:  “No on ever got fired for buying IBM,” indicating IBM was perceived as a rational choice.

Half the Searches on YouTube are B2B

However, times have changed.  B2B marketers are using emotional appeals, particularly in video form. Video is so important in marketing the YouTube by itself is the second largest search engine. In fact, HALF of search in YouTube are B2B related.  It’s not surprising that B2b marketers have jumped on this video explosion. 

B2B Buying IS Emotional

If we realize that 42% of b2b buying is emotional, then we can use documentaries, films, music and original lyrics and photography to make an impact.  Gary showed videos from Cisco, Caterpiller, GE’s Predicitivy (Creative and predictive) and other campaigns to illustrate his point.  Scott Forge is a technical company that creates, among other products, parts for the Mars Rover.  

Scott Forge used real people and dressed in plaid (the company logo) to show that the company works as a team and is not just about technology technology. The Case Construction Company used an original song by country star Kip Moore to create an anthem for construction workers.  Of course the personal appeal of Kip Moore did not hurt the campaign. 

The Internet of Things Hits B2B

Gary highlighted what he called industrial marketing or the ‘internet of things.’ The internet is now embedded via sensor in industrial products.  A great example is large locomotives.  When they break down in the middle of nowhere, they send data back with diagnostic information to speed repairs.  The example of the is the  RailConnect 360 program from General Electric.

LinkedIn is a Must for Networking

Gary ended by showing a commercial his company made for LinkedIn, using fast talker John Macheta which presented the LinkedIn message humorously.  

On a serious note, Gary ended by saying that 55% of Fortune 500 companies now use LinkedIn.  Companies use LinkedIn for higher level executives as well as entry level.  He suggested students get on it sooner rather than later.  I can attest to that as my students in social media class are doing well with LinkedIn.  One of them has been on four job interviews from LinkedIn, just from more fully completing her profile and using the Mobile Job App.

We thank Gary for his talk and the AMA student volunteers who made this event possible. The students also enjoyed breakout sessions with career tips and marketing insights and participated in three competitions, including the first-ever Internet Marketing Competition sponsored by +Stukent, Inc.   I hope the students enjoyed Gary Slack's talk and do go in to B2B marketing. 

Many students said they would consider the career after hearing the talk.   It was a great career path for me in industry and I continue to study business and how they can organize well to manage their ‘big data’ in my research and teaching career.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.