Engaging Prospects with Device Agnostic Marketing Tools

It has become very clear that the multiscreen world is upon us, changing the face of marketing rapidly, and B2B marketers must adapt to this revolution. Innovative marketers also must leverage the new wave of cross-channel engagement; people are now accustomed to utilizing multiple devices in their everyday life (tablets, smartphones, laptops and other interactive technologies) and the B2B buying process is no different. Due to the fact that consumers are becoming so accustomed to interacting with engaging, visually dynamic, self-driven experiences on tablets and the web, today’s B2B marketing content MUST be similarly engaging or customers will tune you out.

Learning by doing has long been considered one of the best ways to retain information, and new visual interactive applications are providing an amazing opportunity for businesses to deliver more compelling and memorable experiences. When someone becomes actively involved and learns by doing with hands-on experiences, cognitive science shows that they will remember dramatically more than when they are being lectured or presented to.  With interactivity proven to increase product knowledge by as much as 78% it’s no wonder that companies are turning to digital marketing strategies that put the customer in control. 

Deliver One-To-One Engagements, Anywhere, on Any Device

Customers often start their buying cycle online. This may be followed by a face-to-face meeting, and often requires that buyers share information with additional decision makers prior to purchase. It is the responsibility of marketers to deliver captivating content in all of these venues.  Therefore, it is imperative to create reusable, device agnostic content, rather than relying on traditional tools (e.g. Flash) that can’t be utilized on all hardware platforms. Sales people will be using different tools thought the sales process, but they require a consistent customer experience regardless of device, so focus on create engaging marketing content once and reusing it everywhere, without recreating it for each device.

Tablets and mobile devices are quickly becoming ubiquitous sales enablement tools, due to the intimate one-to-one touch driven experiences they provide. However, these devices are actually most effective when they are driven by the user—rather than the Sales representative. Sales needs platforms that customers can engage with and ‘drive’ during meetings; but digitally delivering the same standard video, PowerPoints, brochures to your Sales team is simply not enough to captivate buyers, and these static platforms lack the ability to capture analytics regarding a customer’s interests. Additionally, many of these content formats must be reformatted or modified to successfully function on a variety of platforms, wasting precious marketing dollars on recreation costs.

Imagine if you could synch-up your sales devices with engaging content the same way you do with your music. This type of real-time updated, multi-device will be the future of sales and marketing tools, cutting costs while capitalizing on cross-screen trends and engaging prospects in any venue.

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Direct Marketing News: The Inconvenient Truth about Mobile Apps for B2B Sales & Marketing

DMNewsApril 14, 2014 – Byline by Gavin Finn, published by Direct Marketing News

The Inconvenient Truth about Mobile Apps for B2B Sales & Marketing

Jordan Stolper, CEO of StoryDesk, notes that, “The greatest misconception of app development is that once the software is built, the development ends.” In fact, the opposite is true. Like it or not, mobile software is an ongoing service, not a one-and-done product.” And Roy Chomko, CEO of Adage Technologies, says that, “While executives eagerly shell out thousands of dollars for an app’s development and launch, too often they fail to forecast the ongoing costs of maintaining a mobile application.” If this is true, what additional effort, time, and expense should B2B marketers anticipate?

dmnews2There are three areas of time and resource investment that every B2B sales and marketing app requires:

1. Development of the app

2. Deployment of the app to everyone who needs it

3. Maintenance and updating of the app

Examining each area will reveal not only the source of frustration for B2B app benefactors, but also a roadmap for success.

Development: A myth popular among many marketers is that developing mobile apps is cheap. Jeff Francis, cofounder and COO of SAP Business Innovation, reports that sales applications typically fall into the $50,000 to $150,000 development cost range, and can far exceed those costs if the app is highly complex with more than three mobility platforms. One study by Dr. Tim King, CTO of 5app, shows the cost of an app increasing by a factor of between 2.5 and three times when built for three supported platforms, as compared to just one.

Deployment: Simply putting an app into a store doesn’t actually deploy it to the devices of the intended users, thereby burdening developers to ensure that all required devices are supported. In the world of sales and marketing, it’s not enough to limit support only to the variety of tablets and smartphones, because many sales personnel use PCs.

Maintenance: In many ways a B2B mobile app is similar to an automobile. Once the product has been paid for, you must “feed” and maintain it—gas, oil changes, brakes, etc. Depending on development, it will require updates whenever operating systems are updated or released, new device types and sizes become available, and even when new versions of Web browsers are released. In 2013 alone, iOS and Android operating systems had dozens of upgrades and bug fixes, requiring apps to be modified just to keep them working.

Experience shows maintenance costs far outweigh the initial cost of building the app. Forrester Research has documented that the 2-year maintenance cost of a B2B app is 2.5 times the initial development cost. Estimates by MGI Research show apps will require at least four major updates stemming from operating system and device updates over an 18- to 24-month period for just oneoperating system platform (e.g. iOS.)

Here are a few things to keep in mind during the app development process:

Finding a cost-effective solution: Achieving all of the benefits of having a B2B app deployed to marketing, sales, channels, and customers, while at the same time being able to afford the development, distribution and maintenance costs, can be a challenge. For example, Kaon developed its own “Application Delivery Network” to help reduce the costs associating with distributing and maintaining mobile apps.

True interactivity: The vast majority of B2B sales and marketing apps are tablet-based versions of slide presentations, videos, and brochures. These are not going to be more effective simply because they are used on a touchscreen device. Consider the user experience: engagement with the end user on a sensory level; creating an emotional connection; and providing useful, relevant information.

“Mobile first” does not mean “mobile only:” Consider that your app needs to be delivered not just to tablets and smartphones, but also as standalone applications to PCs (laptops/desktops, Windows, Macs, Linux and Chromebooks) and as a browser app running on the Web.

Online and offline: Sales and marketing teams often encounter customer-facing venues where Internet is limited or simply not available. Applications that are fully functional offline without connectivity to the Web will be more useful to your audience.

Bundling to reduce costs: By combining distribution and maintenance fees, and performing updates at the platform level, you can dramatically reduces the lifetime costs of B2B app—from an industry average of 2.5 times the development cost over two years to less than 20% of the average development cost per year.

B2B apps for sales and marketing have already proven to improve sales effectiveness and marketing efficiency. Creating transparency around the entire process will dramatically improve the likelihood of sustained success.

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Kaon’s Digital Platform Gets Kudos from ‘Mobile Marketing Watch’

In the vastly competitive modern world of digital marketing, it’s difficult to earn the reputation of pioneer and venture into new, previously uncharted waters. But that’s what the folks at Kaon Interactive have done with their latest efforts, about which Mobile Marketing Watch was briefed last week.

A provider of interactive 3D product marketing applications, Kaon has launched the world’s “only cloud-based digital marketing platform” that enables B2B marketing and sales enablement applications to be created once and delivered anywhere, at any time, and on any device, without re-development fees.

In a nutshell, the company says, the new Kaon Application Delivery Network (ADN) eliminates the hidden costs of re-creating and maintaining interactive 3D product applications on multiple platforms, ensuring that these engaging experiences ALWAYS work and are delivered into the hands of prospects, customers, sales teams, channel partners and marketing professionals, regardless of their geography or device.

Industry research has shown that the development costs for a typical B2B interactive mobile application is between $50,000 and $250,000, depending on the complexity of the application, and costs increase 3x when supporting up to three devices. Less obvious is the required maintenance expense of a B2B application, which averages 2.5x the initial development cost, over a two-year period.

“While many marketers often budget for the initial development of the application, they often don’t consider the hidden costs associated with maintenance due to platform/browser and operating system upgrades and bug fixes,” explains Gavin Finn, CEO of Kaon Interactive.

“In 2013 alone,” Finn continues in a provided statement, “there were dozens of upgrades and bug fixes to iOS and Android operating systems, impacting many B2B applications. This is one of the reasons that 25% of B2B business apps are deleted after their first use, and that after only 90 days just 35% of the typical B2B app’s users are still active. The Kaon ADN is not only changing the way interactive product content can be used (by anyone, at anytime and always up to date) but it also ensures that the initial marketing investment is leveraged across operating system platforms, without additional fees to support incremental operating system updates or bug fixes.”

ADN_InfoGraphic_1

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Why “Interactive” is not Synonymous with “Online”

A product manager was presenting his product’s features to a group of prospective clients at a live event, when his presentation suddenly froze on the large screen behind him. He apologized, saying “I’m so sorry, this interactive presentation seems to have lost WiFi connectivity. Please bear with me.” Slowly, his audience drifted away, while he attempted to restart the presentation, or re-connect to the web. Sadly, by the time he had his web demo back online, the prospects had dispersed.

While it’s a shame that his presentation had technical difficulties, his reference to the type of demo as “interactive” was interesting. All he was doing was going through a series of HTML pages, with some images and a text-based explanation of the product. What’s interactive about that?

This product manager’s use of the term “interactive” in reference to online applications or content is all too common. But it is actually a significant problem for B2B marketers.

Just because something is online does not mean that it is interactive. Similarly, an interactive experience does not have to be online.

Just broadcasting or presenting product features or marketing messages to an audience is highly inefficient, and actually results in misalignments in expectations and perceptions. Watching a video is not interactive. Even when the video is online. It’s a fundamentally passive process. An application that delivers relevant information (preferably visually, as well as using text) based on an individual’s specific input and responses during the “conversation” is an example of interactivity.

When B2B marketers think of engaging with their target segments, they should be thinking about a wide variety of interactive experiences, both online and offline. Why? Because interactivity is the best way to ensure that prospects and customers remember important information. When people engage interactively, their knowledge retention increases by a factor of three!

True interactivity is the process of engaging in a dialogue involving three primary dimensions:

1. Sensory experience: using any combination of touch, visual, audio, smell, and taste;

2. Emotional experience: developing an emotional response or connection to the experience, and

3. Intellectual experience: the exchange of information that is relevant and useful.

When an experience involves these three aspects of connection and communication, true interactivity has taken place. Interactivity is non-linear, meaning that specific responses are provided based on individual actions, resulting in a meaningful exchange of ideas and information. The user does not have to follow a prescribed sequence of events; rather, they create their own personalized path by exploring areas of interest to them, at whatever degree of detail is relevant.

For B2B marketers and salespeople, the goal should be to turn every encounter with a prospect or client into an opportunity for an interactive experience. Rather than use the iPad as a sales presentation device, for example, deliver the app to the prospect directly. When a user is engaged as they explore the iPad app that teaches them about how a new product can be used to solve an important problem, then there is an interactive path of dialogue and knowledge transfer – sensory, emotional, and intellectual experiences driving results.

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EXHIBITORS DAILY: Blurred Lines 2– Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing

Exhibitors DailyMarch  13, 2014 – Byline by Gavin Finn, published by Exhibitors Daily

Blurred Lines 2: Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing

Both event marketers and sales representatives are tasked with creating memorable experiences that educate prospects and generate emotional connections between prospects and the brand that will ultimately result in successful buying decisions. In 2014, marketers will be challenged to provide more interactive and personalized customer experiences over an increasing number of channels, while maintaining consistent brand and product messaging.

Customer engagement tools are an increasing trend at trade shows and events, and now sales representatives are clamoring to have access to similar solutions that they can use OFF the show floor, to bring the same type of experiences to their prospects. I recently asked a senior director of marketing at a very successful high-tech company which, out of all of his deliverables, were the most effective and the most valued by his marketing and sales teams. His answer was simple – anything interactive – online AND offline.

Transitioning these interactive experiences from the trade show floor to remote sales demonstrations has been a perennial challenge for enterprise B2B companies. This article will investigate how both a network telecommunication equipment and an analytical instrument company successfully deployed interactive sales and marketing experiences cross-platform, across mobile devices, touch screens, websites, laptops and more, to any customer-facing venue.

Lack of physical products for demonstration

A major international networking and telecommunications equipment company was preparing to do a global product launch at an industry trade show; however, due to unexpected delays, all the physical products that were to be shipped to the event and for sales demonstrations across the globe became entirely unavailable. With the product launch already announced, the company needed a tool that would not only demonstrate their product to prospects, but also educate internal teams on how to best differentiate and sell the equipment. Crunched for time and lacking physical products, the marketing team turned to photo-realistic 3D interactive product models that look and behave just like the actual product.

“We were just weeks away from a major trade show where we planned to display our latest product — a breakthrough ethernet services router — but all available systems were spoken for by customers. Kaon was able to develop a fully interactive 3D model that looked exactly like the physical product,” said the company’s field marketing manager.

Frequently at large networking trade shows and events, physical products are present, but a large majority of servers and routers look very similar to the naked eye, and the hardware is generally protected behind glass due to the fragility and cost of the complex systems. The Kaon 3D Product Models, paired with interactive solution storytelling, provided a product demonstration that broke through the trade show clutter, drawing prospects into their booth and providing a differentiated demonstration that can be truly explored and tailored to the interest of prospects. Not only was the company able to get its products into its trade show booth by using virtual product demonstrations, but was also able to get the products into the hands of its globally dispersed sales channels on iPads.

By creating a non-linear, user-driven application, the company’s prospects could control their own experience, exploring the content, product models, solution stories and collateral in a sequence and level of detail that they feel is most appropriate to their needs. Putting the customer in the driver’s seat better highlights their interests for sales representatives, enabling sales teams to tailor the discussion to best solve the customer’s business challenges. By using the virtual 3D products within their trade show booth, the cost of giving a product demo was driven down from $100 per minute to an impressive $7 per minute (eliminating shipping, drayage, labor and power costs). Once the iPad App was made available to global channel partners, the users of application vastly increased, while the cost for demonstrating products went down to an astonishing $2.33 per minute.

Ability to demonstrate workflow, features and benefits of large, complex, fragile products

Marketers are often challenged to educate sales teams and channel partners on the value, differentiation and positioning of their offerings, as well as communicate these benefits to prospects at trade shows and events. When complex physical products are being sold, this task is not trivial.

A leading global instrument and materials analysis company needed a tool to assist in the demonstration of its sophisticated analytical instruments. With scientific and medical laboratory devices, product accessibility is often limited, as the physical products can be large, fragile and expensive to ship. Even when physical products are present, they often can’t be operated outside of a clinical environment, meaning large exterior shells of products are shipped simply to sit inoperable on trade show floors.

In addition to exorbitant shipping and drayage costs for such large products, the potential costs associated with the product being damaged during shipment to events or demonstrations is an enormous risk. Due to these challenges, this company found it difficult it to communicate and differentiate complex product features, benefits, workflow and processes without a new solution.
Turning to interactive 3D product applications, the company was able to have its demonstration products remain at the corporate lab for customer site-visit and demo purposes, resulting in approximately $150,000 of cost avoidance, in addition to eliminating the need to manage international shipping and logistics. The company was also able to increase the effectiveness of the demo lab for sales purposes, resulting in an increase in sales of $250,000 per year. The cost of damages and equipment downtime was dramatically reduced through the cutback in the number of actual instruments shipped to exhibitions, seminars and short courses.

In addition to these financial returns, the greatest benefit that this instrument company experienced was a more personalized and consultative customer experience. Now sales and marketing ALWAYS have access to even the most difficult to obtain products and can use these interactive tools during meetings to succinctly deliver the information that each customer needs. This allows employees in any corner of the globe to learn about and interact with any product as if it were physically in front of them on a variety of convenient platforms, including websites, tablets, smartphones, laptops or touch-screen appliances.

“Unlike in the past, with Kaon’s 3D interactive applications, prospects now have the opportunity to look ‘under the hood’ and gain far more knowledge and understanding of the capabilities and benefits of our products,” said the vice president of marketing. The greatest benefit that the team is experiencing is the ability to show more products in a meaningful way without the products being physically present at trade shows and all customer-facing venues. “By meaningful,” the VP concludes, “I mean in a way that’s interesting, and that gives customers the ability to interact with the product. Before, when our products weren’t available for demonstrations, we had only a static brochure, which was not at all effective.”

Reaching customers everywhere

Your customers participate in the buying cycle in a wide variety of venues, and your tool must function well in any situation to be truly effective. Marketing tools need to be able to reach prospects anywhere they seek information, from individual discovery on websites and mobile devices to face-to-face events, to intimate sales meetings or briefing centers.

The end goal is to provide engaging informational knowledge exchanges that enhance the sales experience regardless of whether or not a representative is present. Repurposing the applications that engage customers in your trade show booth to run on smartphones, tablets and laptops for sales meetings ensures that prospects are experiencing a consistent and memorable experience at every touch point.

By creating interactive, non-linear applications, users can control their own experience, exploring the application in a sequence and level of detail that they feel are most appropriate to their needs and challenges. Putting your customer in the driver’s seat better highlights their interests for your sales representative, enabling them to tailor the discussion to best solve the customer’s business challenges.

With interactivity proven to increase product knowledge retention by 78 percent, it’s no wonder that companies are turning to digital engagement marketing strategies that put the customer in control.

Gavin Finn is president and CEO of Kaon Interactive.

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Why B2B Marketers Don’t Innovate More: There’s a Scientific Explanation

This article was originally shared on LinkedIn. Follow Kaon Interactive on LinkedIn to discuss the hottest trends in B2B marketing!

Last week, at a major trade show, the division President of a scientific instrument company stood in his luxurious 100’X50’ plush-carpeted booth and lamented: “We had a really bad year in 2013. But we have to create a certain image in the industry – our booth has to project success. What we really want to do is more interactive digital marketing. We simply don’t have the budget.” Looking around at the many inactive instruments on mocked-up lab benches, the custom wood trim, the comfortable rented lounge chairs, the numerous show-specific bespoke graphics, and other expensive trappings that were abundant throughout the booth, it was clear why they didn’t have the budget to create solutions to help them sell more. They had spent all of their budget on things that made them feel good about they way they were projecting their image.

Unless the company is bankrupt, when they say “we don’t have the budget” for something, what they are really saying is that they choose to spend their money elsewhere. Of course, a great deal of management is prioritizing decisions, so clearly even some reasonable requests are going to be turned down. But are they making the right choices? Would spending less on the trade show glitz so that they could free up some budget for an engaging customer experience (that could also be re-used by sales teams after the show) really hurt their image? And which choice is likely to have a greater impact on meeting sales objectives?

And here is where the science comes in. When people hold two contrarian beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, the stress of the irreconcilability of this conflict is known to cognitive scientists as cognitive dissonance. The two contrarian beliefs that many B2B marketers hold can be summed up as follows: “I know what we are doing is not achieving the results that we need, but it’s too risky to change what we’re doing.”

A global industrial equipment company recently began an initiative to deliver interactive mobile apps showing the advantages of their products and solutions to their sales teams, channel partners, and customers. The project was delayed by nine months while the marketing team focused on a complete redesign of their portfolio of slide presentations. Think about how often marketers explicitly or implicitly apply this reasoning: “We can’t stop doing this [fill in the blank here: making more data sheets, rejiggering slide decks or making more10-minute videos, building large trade show booths, etc.] because not doing those things might have a negative effect. These marketers are fully aware that the sales teams use less than 50% of the materials that they create. And yet they make conscious decisions to keep creating these materials.

In a purely objective sense, it is logically inconsistent to spend time, money, effort, and focus on activities that don’t achieve the required level of results, while eschewing innovative ideas and strategies because they are “too risky.” This is an example of another cognitive bias that many B2B marketers have: “loss aversion” – the tendency to do avoid a loss, rather than seeking to acquire gains.

The truth is that it is riskier to keep doing something that is guaranteed to under-achieve than it is to innovate and try something new.

If a marketer honestly wants to achieve better results, then they have to be willing to do new things. You don’t have to be a cognitive scientist to understand this. It’s that simple. Everything else is just rationalization.

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Marketers Challenged to Increase Sales Enablement Efforts in 2014

2014 has arrived with new trends and technologies marketers will be forced to adapt to in the ever-changing B2B market place. There’s an evolution taking place where marketers NEED to become technology savvy, or they may be left in the prehistoric dust. With today’s purchaser completing 57% of the buying cycle before engaging with sales, it has become the responsibility of marketing to adopt the technologies needed to implement the process of creating and fielding engaging one-to-one experiences EVERYWHERE!

This trend of increasingly empowered buyers is elevating the importance of user-driven, engagement marketing experiences, and has put a heavier emphasis on marketing’s role in the development of sales enablement tools. Contrary to common belief, sales enablement is not simply a package of presentations and brochures that is given to the sales team in order to help them close deals. Sales representatives are clamoring to have tools that can deliver intimate, individualized, non-linear experiences to prospects.

Here are some of the trends predicted to become most prominent in this year:

  • Increasing user-driven engagement, as buyers want to control their own experiences;
  • Non-linear sales enablement tools that engage at every stage of the buying cycle;
  • Establishing mobile-first (but not mobile-only) marketing strategies;
  • Applications that are multi-platform/multi-device ready to ensure a consistent customer experience;

These B2B Sales Enablement trends are designed to arm every customer-facing person in the company (and channel) with the ability to consistently engage in a mutual exchange of value with the appropriate customer stakeholder at every stage of the customer’s problem-solving journey.

While vendors define the world as “buyers and sellers”, the people in the buying role don’t think of themselves that way. They are simply solving problems, and one of the steps along the way may be buying something (or set of things) from one or more vendors if they have to. Let’s stop calling them “buyers” and recognize that they are problem solvers. If we have any hope of doing business with them, we need to be seen by them as helping them solve important problems. Therefore marketers must provide sales enablement tools that truly engage prospects above and beyond what static videos or marketing collateral are capable of, and allow them to control their experience at their own pace and level of interest to help solve the problems that are relevant to them.

 

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