Miriam Drahmane is CEO of Bedfordshire-based BCM Agency, a B2B marketing agency specialising in cognitive marketing communications. She talks here about the importance of influencing emotions in the customer purchasing decision process.
Marketing seems so difficult for many businesses right now. Why?
We’re witnessing a huge shift in the way businesses need to engage with customers.
It’s no longer enough to have tacit knowledge of customers’ rational buying behaviours. Instead, there needs to be data-driven insight into customers’ emotions, because business buying decisions are driven to a large extent by non-rational thought.
But this shift is a big ask. Data has become problematic owing to GDPR, and because furlough and redundancies have erased many customer contacts. Many businesses don’t have the data, analysis and marketing capabilities in-house, and need help.
What should business marketing departments be focusing on currently?
Businesses face an avalanche of marketing activity buzzwords and often try to do everything at once, tactically.
It’s far more effective to collaborate on strategy with a trusted adviser, and use those findings to inform what you do, when, in what order, for what outcomes.
This way, businesses spend budget and effort on results – not reactivity.
So how should marketing agencies deliver in such a challenging climate? How do they need to work?
It’s all about finding an edge that results in a demonstrable competitive advantage for the client.
Cognitive marketing, for example, analyses data to understand buyers’ emotional triggers, and to communicate the client’s value proposition in a way that pulls those triggers. Think laser-targeted, rather than scattergun!
But simplicity and agility are also key, so the focus should be on a simple, one-page plan that can be easily changed and adapted as new opportunities emerge, clear and compelling content targeted using data and powerful marketing technologies, and transparent results measurement.
Is the value of cognitive marketing limited only to clients in certain sectors?
No, quite the opposite. We have many clients in construction, engineering and building materials specialisms, for example, but because these are very product-focused sectors with complex Decision-Making Units, and their move to digital transformation and digital marketing is naturally slow, if cognitive can deliver there, it can deliver anywhere.
In any sector, it’s about recognising that the quickest route to aligning customers on a buying timeline is to gain intimate understanding of their emotional ‘hot buttons’ through data, and to communicate with them as individuals by pushing those buttons.
Relationships between businesses and marketing agencies can sometimes be challenging. Does cognitive marketing change that in any way?
Cognitive’s natural focus on data lends itself to a more complete immersion in the client’s history, successes, aspirations, and strategic focus, and this enables the agency to view research and campaigns through the client’s eyes. Result: trust (and traction) are built more quickly.
But team dynamics are critical, too. Our team has worked client-side and managed agency activities themselves, across multiple sectors.
Flowing naturally from this is a culture that recognises and champions clients’ interests – because our team have all been clients themselves!
Content is king in marketing communications. What’s the key to generating it?
These days, it’s about ‘finding the gap’ – communicating in distinctive ways, to elevate the client’s value proposition above the noise. An experienced content team who can produce compelling words, images and video is a must.
Our Head of Content, Simon Fletcher, for example, had a long career in senior marketing communications and PR roles, and many years as a successful freelance copywriter. Our Head of Creative, Sam Bateman-Moore, has extensive creative management experience, as well as a background in construction design.
Strategically, it’s always more effective to engage with clients on a longer-term content basis because the conversations that are being driven require time, persistence and repetition to build momentum and create the share of voice that, ultimately, translates into share of market.
Of course, where shorter-term campaigns are necessary for whatever reason, the agency must be in a position to deliver.
Is cognitive marketing widespread and proven? Or is it still a new innovation?
The UK B2B Marketing Benchmark Report 2021 featured BCM as the only cognitive marketing agency in the UK, so it’s certainly an innovative space.
But at the same time, cognitive delivers proven results, as our recent Gold in the 2021 B2B Marketing Martech Awards demonstrates.
But the key to success for any marketing agency, cognitive or otherwise, is a grounded, down to earth team. Authenticity is always a winner!