Gonzalo Brujo, Global President, Interbrand is on the Business-to-Business jury for the 2021 WARC Awards for Effectiveness, in association with LIONS. Here he talks about the importance of listening, what B2C businesses can learn from the B2B sector and how to develop digital brand experiences.

Describe your role.

My role is to implement Interbrand’s strategy. Over the last three years, we’ve been working on a complete inside-out transformation. We are connecting with our clients more and have a new business model which has meant we have reorganised our offices around the world, creating hubs in different locations.

What are the challenges facing B2B marketers?

B2B companies have realised that they need to market themselves completely differently. Previously, our business was about 75% traditional marketers, with many being FMCG. Now there’s a different emphasis: we are close to 50:50 B2B vs B2C.

B2B companies have realised that they can grow faster because of globalisation; they now understand that intermediaries between them and other markets is no longer working; they are better off going directly to market. That’s going to change B2B strategies as they will need to work on marketing every single touchpoint which a lot of them don’t know how to do.

The beauty of that is they can be closer to the client, and can listen in a different way because it entails working more closely with customers through different digital channels. Communities are going to be even more important. I’m not a believer in traditional research anymore; there’s a need to find new ways to personalise things to achieve greater effectiveness. There’s a need to tailor messaging, to personalise because that’s how companies differentiate and stay relevant.

There are also implications around sociability and social impact. B2B companies are usually companies that could be much more controversial in what they do, so they need more transparent, sustainable strategies to ensure that everything relates to their reputation.

Last but not least, these companies will require a profound employee transformation strategy because they don’t always understand importance of brands or intangible assets and customer experience.

What new channels are B2B marketers investing in?

Everyone’s using the same channels. LinkedIn is important because it goes directly to the end customers. Programmatic strategies are going to be more critical in ensuring that brands are top of mind in the digital world. B2B companies need to work on demos and how you recreate them digitally. One of our clients is Airbus, so if one of their customers is going to buy 100 aeroplanes, how can they see those planes digitally when they used to go somewhere in person to do that? It completely transforms selling techniques.

What tools exist to help B2B marketers with that transformation?

It depends on the industry. For a car brand that used to go to the Geneva International Motor Show, you’d now send cars to the press and tell them about the features. We need to multiply the importance of creativity because we need to think differently and identify surprise in the customer journey to captivate audiences. How can I communicate a brand when Alexa is recommending what I should buy?

Creativity is going to be important: every single touchpoint has to be different. Digital platforms and apps all look alike, so strategic thinking will be required in mapping out the customer experience and using creativity to differentiate.

What are your recommendations for effective remote working?

The digital experience requires more preparation and you need to go deeper on understanding the needs of your clients. So instead of talking you need to listen and empathise. While you can’t go and have a coffee with a client or see them in the office, try and have some personal meetings, even if it’s going to a Starbucks.

What can B2C marketers learn from B2B businesses?

How to share data with others to accelerate change in the world. Businesses need to grow with their customers because customers move faster. Companies and their analytics are very slow. Listen to customers to bring them new innovations and move the organisation forwards. And align employees internally to ensure they share the same objectives. With everyone working from home, you need to be careful not to lose your culture. The right purpose, ambition and trajectory motivates employees.

Can you share an example of a particularly striking B2B campaign to inspire entrants?

Ericsson UnBoxed Office [an online content series developed when Ericsson pulled out of Mobile World Congress in early 2020]. Another outstanding brand in B2B marketing is General Electric. The content it generates for its audiences across numerous channels, such as the online magazine, Txhcnologist, #GEInstawalk and its social media presence, is characterised by added value and creativity.

What kind of papers are you hoping to see entered into the B2B category of the WARC Awards for Effectiveness?

New ideas that are driving change and the metrics behind them. I want to see marketing strategies that I can learn from. In a more connected world, communities are bigger, so it’s important to understand and learn from different industries.

The WARC Awards for Effectiveness, in association with LIONS, are open for entries until 1 April. The entry fee has been waived for 2021. Find out more about the six categories, judges and how to enter here.