Ep. 116 | The New B2B Consumer

This week, we chat with Elle Woulfe from PathFactory about the on-demand economy and the new B2B consumer.

B2B buyers all have B2C lives. From taxis to vacation rentals, groceries to television programming, they expect their needs for goods and services to be met with the click of a button.

But they don’t experience the same convenience in their B2B lives.

Elle talks about why and how B2B marketing must rise up to meet the demands of their modern buyers. 

Elle started her career in Demand Gen with Eloqua before it was acquired by Oracle. She then followed her CMO over to Lattice Engines before joining PathFactory in 2015 as their vice president of marketing. PathFactory is a content insight and activation company.

“We’re really focused on helping marketers make their marketing function more on demand,” she said.  “Our buyers today bring these expectations from their B2B lives with them into their B2B buying experiences where they really want things to function on demand, to be responsive and curated, to be easy and quick. And we help B2B marketers to deliver those types of experiences and help buyers move through content in those kinds of curated and responsive ways.”

Picture of Elle Woulfe from PathFactory for the Rethink Marketing podcast where she talks about the new B2B consumer.

What is the difference between content and demand gen marketers?

Nathan: I’m a content marketer, you are a demand gen marketer. I am wondering, in your view, what are the differences between the two, how are they connected and where is the overlap?

Elle: I actually have recently made a big change on my team and I broke with convention and I actually created an integrated marketing role. I don’t even have a demand gen role on my team anymore.

I actually had my of content marketing, my Director of Content Marketing, put her in charge of demand gen. I still have someone who runs marketing programs, a program marketer, but it made no sense to me to have demand gen kind of making orders, right. They were going to content saying, ‘Hey, we need this type of content for this program over here.’ Well, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why don’t I just have content marketing run demand gen?

I think these two things are inexplicably intertwined. I mean at the top of the funnel you’re really delivering content as a way to get your buyer interested and educated and move them through the early stages of the buying process. And at the heart of good demand gen is content.

So, I decided to come at it in a different way. It’s still is about programs and channels and data and segmentation and analytics. All of those things are important when you think about demand gen. But content is at the heart of everything that we do in demand generation.

So far it’s working really well because we no longer have this kind of push and pull between demand gen and content.

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How are consumers are bringing their B2C expectations to B2B marketing?

Nathan: Can you tell us how consumers are bringing their B2C expectations to B2B marketing?

Elle: I think probably the best example is Netflix. I’m a mom of two small kids. I don’t get a lot of time to watch TV anymore. And when I do have that hour or two hours to sit down and watch a little TV, I don’t have time to scroll through every single program that’s on the guide to try to find the thing I want to watch right.

Today when you log into Netflix you’re delivered a set of really curated content options, a set of programming that’s designed specifically for you. And they’re surfacing content to you that you may not know exists. The way that Netflix is able to do that is they know everything about what you’ve watched in the past.

They know the directors you like. The actors you like. The programs you’ve watched multiple times. The things you’ve binged on in the past. And they use all that data to inform the recommendations they make to you about what programs you should watch the next time you log in. And that saves you time. It makes it easy for you to dive right into the content that you want to watch next. That’s much easier than scrolling through the guide and spending that one hour that you have looking for the program that you might be interested in watching.

And that’s an example of how our expectations have changed. It’s the same when we shop on Amazon. We don’t walk through the mall anymore searching for stuff. We go to Amazon and they’re making recommendations based on the last thing we bought, about what we might be interested in purchasing.

So, as consumers our expectation is that things will be curated and hyper personalized. That it will be responsive to our needs. That it will pick us up where we left off. And, unfortunately, in B2B we haven’t quite caught up to that.

You know the B2B buying process tends to be far less curated and personalized. We have a hard time picking someone up where they left off even with the advances that we’ve made in things like personalization and ABM. We haven’t quite got to a place where we’re able to deliver an experience to the buyer that is really responsive and convenient and hyper personalized and easy for them. It leaves that buyer wandering around trying to find that next best piece of content.

Buyers bring with them these expectations of how they want it to feel. And we as marketers have struggled to kind of deliver the experience that they’re looking for.