Using Empathy and Authenticity to Fuel B2B Marketing

I’ve had the good fortune of speaking to a number of business and marketing leaders from startups and established companies to discuss how they are driving growth and change in their organizations. You can see some of our latest conversations here.

A few key themes continue to emerge throughout our dialogue related to the art and science of modern marketing.

On the art side, empathy and authenticity, once anathema in the context of B2B marketing, is a topic that continues to come up in most of my conversations with marketing leaders. It only makes sense. After all, no one is targeting an army of automatons making multimillion dollar buying decisions on behalf of businesses. We’re marketing products and services to other people. People with large and small needs to solve on behalf of their companies.

Being empathetic to their challenges in order to speak authentically to their needs is one way that marketers are driving success and leaping to the top of the short list.

Slack, whose mission is to make their customers lives simpler, more pleasant and more productive knows something about empathy. CMO Bill Macaitis has great insight on the importance of empathy and its impact on brand. Bill rightly notes that every interaction matters for a brand and that helping people have a great experience with a brand doesn’t start and end with a sale, but with every step along the way of the customer journey.

Illumio’s Alan Cohen, Chief Commercial Officer, says he “fundamentally believes that empathy is the most powerful force in B2B marketing.” He went on to note that the best B2B tech marketing he sees is very genuine and direct, and most importantly, easy for the customer to understand where they can take their business by working with you.

Of course, making the short list only matters if you’re able to deliver. And, increasingly, delivering a solution to a customer is just the beginning of the relationship. Catherine Blackmore, GVP Customer Success – North America at Oracle Marketing Cloud, talked about the notion of a “double funnel” at the IDG Marketing Summit held March 7 in San Mateo, California. She discussed how marketing must hold product accountable – to make sure that what is promised is delivered to cement trust and goodwill.

We can’t talk about science without talking about data. Using data to target, measure and make experiences meaningful is critical to modern marketers. They rely on the insights from data to create better programs, products and services.

Everyone I speak with is focused on how to manage the onslaught of incoming data to ensure that it is actionable. Lisa Joy Rosner, CMO of Neustar, said in a recent interview that one of the tenets of her marketing philosophy includes “talking to the data” because it always guides you in the right direction. Smart!

At IDG, we think the best marketers are able to take the most important elements of authenticity and empathy and combine them with meaningful data and analytics to deliver products and services that propel their business forward.

That’s the path we’re on, and what drove our new branding campaign.

Historically known for its powerful global brands, including CIO, Computerworld, Macworld and PCWorld, IDG’s new branding reflects its evolution from a brand-driven publisher to a global media company that activates and engages the most influential technology buyers, offering premium brands and audiences on a worldwide scale.

IDG’s new tagline highlights the company’s ability to connect the world of tech buyers with “Insights, Intent & Engagement.” IDG bridges the worlds of art and science through its intimate knowledge of technology media, leveraging its 50 years of editorial expertise, creating engaging content that accelerates purchasing and deepens engagement, and reaching the best buyers at the optimal time with its data-driven approach.

I’d love to hear from you: how are you using art and science to drive growth in your marketing organization? How do you find the ideal balance? Tweet me and let me know your thoughts – @joshdlondon


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