Antonia Wade, Global CMO at PwC will be chairing the Business-to-Business category of the 2022 WARC Awards for Effectiveness. Here she talks about how B2B companies need to market at both organisation and individual level, the trends that have been accelerated by the pandemic, and what she’s looking for in this year’s entries.
Describe your role
I'm the Global Chief Marketing Officer of PwC, which is one of the world's largest professional services businesses with about $43 billion in revenue and offices in 155 countries.
In my role, I lead brand positioning, advertising and thought leadership to support market understanding of the firm’s strategy, ‘The New Equation’. The team also looks after our technical stack – which consists of our digital front end and our CRM on the back end – and manage global campaigns around some of the issues that matter most to clients, like climate change and business transformation.
What are the challenges facing B2B marketers?
If you go back a few years, B2B marketers tended to work under a sales team’s directive, supporting a seller-led motion via brochures, events and hospitality. Now that has changed significantly: B2B marketers have to really understand how their clients are buying, what their process is, and be ready to show up with relevant information and content at the right moments of their journey. This involves having great content that's thoughtfully put together, across the whole buying cycle, delivered across all channels that matter to the client.
The rise of digital that has been accelerated by the pandemic has been particularly profound in B2B marketing because events were such a heavily used channel for us before. The shift towards digital channels has made people think differently about how they show up, but also opened opportunities to get the kind of insights that are hard to get even through the best-face-to face channels.
B2B is an interesting and complicated environment to market in. Increasingly, you're having to market to your buyers at three different levels simultaneously. For example, if you were marketing to me, I’d expect you to market organisation-to-organisation, where I – as a member of a company – want to work with another company that has similar values, a clear sense of purpose, a reason for being in the world that I relate to and support. Then, when I'm buying marketing services, I would work with a number of colleagues in the C-suite – from finance, procurement, sales, marketing – all of whom are playing different roles in terms of influence and decision making. Lastly, I expect you to market to me as Antonia: I expect you to show up where I am, to know what I like and what I don't like, to call me by my name. Ultimately, I expect you to know what I buy from you and what the next best thing I could buy from you is.
Aside from digital channels, which other areas are you investing more in at the moment?
Across many B2B organisations, there has been a big ramping up of thought leadership. People are looking to organisations like PwC to have a point of view as well as insights about the issues that matter to them.
Another area of interest is around the concept of Account Based Marketing, which is about how you bring the value of your organisation to a client organisation in a way that's highly relevant and targeted to them. This had started before the pandemic, but it's becoming something people are increasingly investing in. I would say that, like the move towards digital, all these things are not pandemic-related, but rather pandemic-accelerated.
Which trends have emerged in the past few months that you think are going to remain relevant beyond the pandemic?
I think that clients’ expectation of more multi-channel experiences is not going to go away, even in a world where people do want to go back to events. Also, buying journeys might become more complicated in the short term, so it’s important to be thinking about how you show up and the channels that you show up in.
The other thing that happened in the pandemic was that we were all more human and empathetic, and I think – hope – that's here to stay too!
Can you share an example of a B2B campaign that particularly impressed you?
I was impressed by last year’s Grand Prix winner, Maersk. What we as a jury loved about it was that they had taken something quite complicated and niche, and turned it into a charming execution that felt very relatable and human. I’d encourage anyone to go and have a look at it!
I also loved State Street’s Fearless Girl, because it created a really interesting brand moment that captured the world's imagination – and it was only supposed to be up there for six months. In a B2B environment, there's something about getting behind a somehow simple, but bold idea, very cleanly executed. I think that is an interesting campaign from a brand perspective.
Lastly, IT consulting company Cognizant did a digital post-pandemic though leadership activation that was very well put together. As a consumer of thought leadership, it felt like you were getting content that was more and more tailored and personalised. And on the back end they're probably learning quite a lot about how people are navigating through it. I think that this kind of campaign is really interesting, where you're learning about how people consume your content and you have a sort of return-on-engagement model.
What advice would you give to entrants in this category?
Firstly, it’s important to state what exactly you set out to achieve: what was your target and how did you go about it? This gives us a sense of the scale of your ambition, and something to compare your results to.
It’s key to have a strong evidence base. Whether you are making assertions around driving brand value or delivering leads, you need to be able to put numbers against that. Backing your points with evidence – qualitative and quantitative – is really important. What did your clients think or do differently? How did you change hearts and minds in the organisation? How did you know you’d achieved what you set out to do?
As a judge, it can be quite hard to understand the genuine impact of a campaign without these markers. Numbers are important but so is contextualising them. So, I would advise entrants to put some thought into setting up the business problem you wanted to solve, the targets you set yourself and how you delivered on them.
Finally, think about how you did something that shifted the client’s expectations – help us understand how you approached the problem with creativity as well as logic.
Good luck! I’m hugely excited about seeing all the entries and look forward for a strong representation from the B2B marketing community!
The WARC Awards for Effectiveness are now open for entries. The deadline for submission is 2nd March, 2022.
Entry is free. For more info on how to submit your work, visit the Awards website.