As a 10 year veteran of Business Development at Fathom, I’ve had conversations with a wide-variety of B2B marketers. It’s been an interesting journey, one which closely aligns with Rogers’ Bell Curve (Innovation Adoption Lifecycle).
Let’s break it down:
2004/10 years ago: Manufacturers who engaged in digital marketing (namely search marketing) were true Innovators. While Google officially launched in 1998, search marketing was new to most manufacturers. The innovators who continued to invest in digital marketing continue to dominate the digital space to this day.
2009/5 years ago: Google was picking up steam (in addition to other search engines such as Yahoo!) and B2B marketers were beginning to notice. Early Adopters took their brochureware-websites to the next level by investing in search marketing. Assuming continued investment, they too dominate today’s digital space.
2011/3 years ago: There was no denying the power of Google and the necessity of being found on search engines for branding and lead generation endeavors. Early Majority adopters took a look at competition and realized it was time to invest. The Early Majority was behind the curve, compared to the Innovators and Early Adopters, and continue to play catch-up to this day.
2014/Today: We are now in the stages of Late Majority and Laggards. By definition, Laggards will never “get it.” Laggards remind me of my 93 year old father. Under no circumstances will he use a cellphone or a computer (no use trying to convince him otherwise). I therefore turn your attention to the Late Majority.
If you fall into the Late Majority camp, it’s time to digitize or die (or more politely stated, go digital or go home). Given the fact that 100% of B2B buyers visit prospective vendor websites prior to making a purchase (Forrester Research), there remains no more time to think about investing in digital marketing. I continually hear lofty, revenue goals from manufacturers (“we want to grow our revenue 4X over the next 2 years). These same manufacturers are often in the marketing stone age of solely print, trade shows and sales calls/prospecting. They will NOT achieve their revenue goals and I submit they may very well become extinct as competitors swallow up their market share because they do “get it” and are ramping up their investments.
Sidebar: It’s worth noting that the Innovators and Early Adopters have evolved well beyond search marketing. These organizations are now addressing the entire sales funnel with major investments in content marketing, marketing automation, social media, big data, etc. The window of opportunity is closing. B2B marketers can no longer wait to embrace digital if they want to be industry leaders