Game-changing insights from the private sector and how they apply to you

Game-changing insights from the private sector and how they apply to you

Business to business marketing (B2B) describes a discipline of private-sector marketing that sits separately to its sibling, business to consumer (B2C) marketing.

B2B involves marketing to meet the needs of other business, while B2C markets to the general public, or niches within.

I recently attended the inaugural B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC 2016 in Sydney.

While listening to a variety of presentations and panel discussions from a group of distinguished speakers who, between them, had clocked up over $6 billion in revenue across their careers, I was struck by how many insights the private sector has to offer us operating in the public sector space.

The challenges facing us as marketers are similar; people are listening less, we are battling an oversaturation of messaging and content and keeping up to date with digital change feels just about impossible.

Here are my 3 key takeaways from the day, and how the insights relate to the public sector.

  1. The customer must understand – use plain English

Throughout the day, presenters and panellists from backgrounds ranging from data storage to e-commerce to marketing automation specialists drove home the importance in speaking in a language that your audience understands.

Jonathan Martin, Chief Marketing Officer for Pure Storage, an IT and business solutions company, explained the company’s strategy for making sure their key messaging is to the point:

140 characters. If you can’t make your point in 140 characters, simplify it.

That’s not to say of course that Pure Storage only communicates in Twitter-style messages. A few 140-character messages might create a blog post, a larger number might create a white paper or an e-book.

But that character limit forces them to strip it back to the most accessible form of plain English, and the result is value-dense communications.

For us as public sector communicators, we have to change our tone. Our audiences are increasingly time-poor, without the time to spend attempting to understand “policy-speak”.

Your messages need to be immediately digestible. They need to be targeted to what your audience wants or needs to know, rather than what you want to tell them.

And in that vein, you need to tell them it in a way that they will understand. Giving ourselves 140 characters to make them seems like a good place to start.

Take for example, the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In explaining their vision, the ABS say they are about “unleashing the power of statistics for a better Australia.” This is a key example of how, in 58 characters it is possible to precisely convey a vision and capture themes that could be built upon to create longer forms of content such as blog posts or reports.

  1. Data science will become mainstream for B2B marketing in 2016

 For marketing teams in the private sector, having data analyst capacity is now essential.

In fact, a recurring prediction from the speakers was that 2016 will be the year that having data science as an in-built function of marketing teams will no longer be optional.

The marketers, the sales people and the analysts will all need to be in the same room.

Likewise for the public sector; the communicators, the policy people and the data scientists all need to be at the table.

Given that the education sector is struggling so much to keep up with the latest digital trends and teach skills such as data science and marketing automation, this will require businesses and organisations to invest heavily in upskilling their personnel.

In fact, Carlos Hidalgo, author of Driving Demand – Transforming B2B Marketing to Meet the Needs of the Modern Buyer noted in his presentation that 70% of B2B marketers receive no training or are self-taught.

Technology has infiltrated the marketing space so quickly that education and skills has been left behind. But this will have to change.

Public sector organisations, especially government agencies, have such a ready supply of data that could be used to glean insights in to citizens’ behaviour.

Instilling this skill within your team, or investing in upskilling your existing team to ensure analytics capability is an opportunity that can no longer be overlooked.

  1. Communications objectives must match business objectives

As a key part of our content marketing methodology at contentgroup, we ensure that our communications objectives align with our clients’ overarching business objectives.

Brett Hannath, Senior Marketing Director of APAC Intel Security, said that the private sector is finally shifting toward the same level of buy-in across business areas.

Whereas previously the commission structure for the marketing team had been shaped around marketing-specific outputs such as lead generation, they are now based off of overarching business objectives. Specifically, sales.

They have found that when the objectives of the marketing team and the sales team align with the each other and the business objectives, the company operates more cohesively, and effectively.

For public sector organisations, securing buy-in from all areas of the organisation is critical.

Explicitly aligning communications objectives with business objectives ensures that the consumer, or the citizen, is central to activity being undertaken.

Do your objectives in the communications team clearly align with your department’s objectives?

For example, is there a departmental objective around increasing the number of people accessing services? Does the communications team share in that objective and complete work with that goal in mind?

If there isn’t clear alignment, then it is highly likely that your communications efforts aren’t being nearly as effective as they could be.

Have you learnt a lesson from someone in private sector marketing recently? Let us know in the comments below.

Image source: Gareth Llewellyn on Twitter – @Mrgareth


Lydia holds a Bachelor of History from the University of Sussex as well as a Masters in History (Genocide Studies) from the University of Amsterdam. Her communications experience includes working in the not-for-profit, public and now private sectors. Fortunately, given her chosen career path, writing is her absolute favourite activity (especially when flanked by a coffee and a dog).

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