Going Digital: Lessons From Four Companies Who Are Doing it Right

Nov 16, 2012

Think of it this way…there are more mobile devices than toothbrushes on the planet. So, if you haven’t embraced the digital era, it’s time.

At a recent B2B Magazine/Business Marketing Association event in Chicago, Wells Fargo Capital Finance, IBM, Tellabs and USG each shared their digital experiences and we are eager to pass that knowledge on to the IMTS community.

Wells Fargo Capital Finance Vice President of Marketing & Communications Kathi Wright explained that the Wells Fargo strategy is to use storytelling to engage in conversation at all steps of the sales cycle. Early on, that includes digital ads and event marketing all tied to the web site that is rich with case studies that target vertical markets.

IBM North America sees the market transforming quickly with digital already accounting for 40% of its marketing mix. According to Director of Marketing Demand Programs/Industry Alliances/Digital Marketing Christine Jacobs, some divisions are allocating up to 60% of the marketing budget to digital. Based on the findings of the company’s annual CMO Study she says marketing is a world of data explosion, social engagement and devices. Along with these shifts, there is a radical change going on, leaving the traditional demographic approach behind and moving to behavioral study – where customers and prospects are, what they are saying, what they are doing and what they are involved in.

For Tellabs, a full one half of the marketing budget is digital. George Stenitzer, VP, Marketing & Corporate Communications, talked about surrounding customers with what they need – using the exact words they use to describe their problems (and noting that this is what they will Google) and learning how they want to consume the information.

Stenitzer sees LinkedIn as the most important forum for Tellabs. The company’s white papers posted to LinkedIn have resulted in media coverage, interviews for company executives and business. His words of advice are “be provocative and provide meaty food for thought.” The process is content that starts conversation and results in conversion. Along with LinkedIn he points to events and trade shows as ideal ways to have dialog.

USG, a building products manufacturer, has stepped into the digital marketing arena with new product launches. Director of Marketing Linda McGovern and her team are adding online ads, e-mail, instructional videos and search engine marketing to the traditional mix and are inviting conversation to give their customers a voice they’ve never had before. The goal is to build progressive profiles about USG customers. For USG, this means building a digital infrastructure including an upgraded web site, investing in a marketing automation tool and a content management tool.

All four companies agree that social listening is the most important thing they can do in the short term to understand the where and what IBM’s Jacobs described. Along with that they are equipping subject matter experts within their companies with social skills. It is a learning experience with every new step, but these B2B marketers know the digital experience is the future.