This past week, I had the good fortune to attend the thinkB2B conference  at Google’s Mountain View headquarters.
At it, some of the world's best Internet thinkers and researchers presented on key trends in business-to-business (B2B) online marketing, sales, and client engagement.
My three takeaways:
1. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile. All of the presenters, from Forrester , Motista , The Marketing Leadership Council , to Google itself, drove home the point that mobile browsing, shopping and buying is growing at such a rapid rate that in a few short years it will in fact become indistinguishable from the traditional, desktop-driven Internet.
This is obviously having a dramatic impact on not just consumer markets (i.e. tweeting and texting Millennials), but on B2B markets and interactions as well.
Which leads to takeaway number two…
2. Personalization. As well demonstrated by this awesome Grainger ad , even older line industrial companies and brands selling to other old line companies now must connect their brands and messaging to the personalized needs, wants, fears, and aspirations of individual buyers.
In other words, it is no longer enough to just demonstrate business value (i.e. functional benefits and business outcomes), but personal benefits must be communicated as well.
Things like promotion, popularity, influence, and confidence.
AND do so in a way “that delights, inspires, and surprises…and makes a person want to own it, riff on it, and share with others…”
Yes, this is hard.
But when done right, the rewards can be the kind of word-of-mouth viral campaign effects that to date have only been available to consumer brands and marketing campaigns (see Old Spice , DollarShaveClub ).
3. Multiple, Digital Touchpoints. From personalization of message follows multiplication of medium.
With B2B buyers porting their iPhones and Galaxies-trained “always on, at my fingertips” sensibilities to the work place, B2B sales cycles are now increasingly “multi-dimensional.”
These cycles involve not just in-person and on the telephone analog selling, but also multiple digital touchpoints and nudges - texts, tweets, LinkedIn connects, YouTube favorites, Facebook likes, and more.
These are the new rules of the B2B marketing game.
And we either learn to play by them hard and well…
…or we consign ourselves to being left behind in our mobile, so very personalized, sometimes annoying, but also so often delightful and always opportunity-filled world.