In this episode, we did a bit of roleplay - I asked Anders and Stellan to put themselves in the shoes of decision-makers at large B2B companies, and got their opinions on some of the most common concepts and buzzwords in the world of online and digital. Their answers were pretty interesting - listen to this episode and hear them yourself.
Paid social, AI, voice search, personalisation, chatbots... the list of hot topics and buzzwords in online and digital only gets longer as time goes by, and everyone has to have an opinion. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same take!
To try to clear things up, Anders and Stellan imagined themselves as decision-makers at large, traditional B2B companies and gave their thoughts. When should you start preparing for voice search? What role will AI have to play in the future? And what's going to happen after the pandemic is over? Find out in this episode - you can either watch the video version or listen on Spotify or Soundcloud using the buttons below. As always, the transcription is available further down on this page.
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AE: [00:00:00] So today, we're testing Zencastr, something Doug found here. Why do we test it, Doug?
DB: [00:00:08] Well, I think the advantage is that it's maybe a bit quicker to edit. And then also when we record now, it's recording everyone's voice as a separate track locally and then sending the recording to Zencastr. So I think the audio quality will be better in the end, but we'll see.
AB: [00:00:26] I just, sort of, is it an experiment or are we testing?
AE: [00:00:35] It's an experiment. We're testing an experiment.
AB: [00:00:37] Thank you very much.
AE: [00:00:42] Today I have an idea that you two should answer and represent our listeners, which are mainly B2B decision-makers. So I'm going to ask you several topics. And I want you to share your opinion as if you were the decision-maker at a B2B company. How does that sound, Anders?
AB: [00:01:11] As long as it's in line with the contract that I've been signing with you to participate in this pod? I'm not going to say anything about any religious or political things, but I hope we can agree on what's in the agreement, so to speak.
AE: [00:01:24] Yeah, that's good. And Stellan, are you aware of the agreement?
SB: [00:01:29] Yes, very much, of course, with all the additional clauses. But it's interesting to, yeah, to answer from that perspective, it's going to be interesting, depending on what you're going to ask.
AE: [00:01:48] So the first question is to you, Stellan. What's your opinion on webinars?
SB: [00:01:55] So from a B2B decision-maker standpoint in general, someone needs to show me that it works. So, so far I haven't seen any proof in my organization that this works, but I'm happy to have someone test it, experiment with it. And if they can prove that it brings something to our sales team, then we'll be happy to roll it out. We'll have a challenge to convince salespeople that they should, but that they will get any qualified leads from it. But the proof is in the pudding.
AE: [00:02:33] Yeah, and what would you do regarding a webinar, Anders?
AB: [00:02:37] I would make sure that it's not a thing about quantity. It's purely a thing about relevance and quality. And I would love to hear from everyone who claims internally, if I'm the decision-maker, that they are an expert to see if they have anything to tell. Otherwise, we have another type of problem than producing content and webinars.
AE: [00:03:00] The second topic, Stellan, paid social. What would you do regarding paid social?
SB: [00:03:09] I think in general, if I now speak from a bit more of an outside perspective, but I think in general, everything that has to do with paid has been mishandled for quite some time. So, if I were to sort of jump into an organisation and say I'm a decision-maker where someone has been spending our money on paid for the last two or three years, I would probably not be convinced with the results and most money would probably have gone to traffic. But not any focus on bringing in real contacts, real potential sales leads through that channel. So unfortunately, given history, I would be sceptical. But if I set myself on the outside again and say, what can you really do with it, it has huge potential because it's been proven in B2C for a very, very long time.
AE: [00:04:08] How would you tackle that, Anders?
AB: [00:04:10] I would challenge my organization and I would say, from now on we're not going to do anything paid social from the company accounts. We're going to do it from our individual accounts. Who wants to join?
AE: [00:04:24] Any specific social media platform you would start with?
AB: [00:04:31] With the type of decision-makers that I have in mind, I would only focus on one – that would be LinkedIn, except in China, and of course, some other countries. But that would be personal profiles, our own accounts on LinkedIn. And I am certain that that will convert much better than whatever you do in the corporate account.
AE: [00:04:57] And then, Anders, voice search and smart speakers, how would you think about that, the coming years?
AB: [00:05:07] I would tell my colleagues and I would show them examples that we are already one year behind and we need to speed this up and we need to do it in a very natural way, as a core part, all through whatever we do, if it's R&D, in that process, in the sales process and the marketing process or whatever, prioritise it from yesterday. And that's all. I say just one more thing, at the same time understanding that there is a need. OK, we sell a product, we have a QR code on that product. What happens when I open that QR code? Because as a customer, I presume that I reach everything, including people, can be recorded people, it can be AI-driven voices and whatever, but that is from a year back. So, get started.
AE: [00:05:59] And Stellan, do you agree that it should be prioritised and could you elaborate a bit about the need if so?
SB: [00:06:06] I think in general, if you are in e-commerce, and in particular if you operate through platforms like Amazon, it's starting to become important and it's going to be more important as these platforms are driving more search towards voice. So yes, but otherwise it's hard to find the use cases where someone would have another speaker than Amazon or Google or Apple essentially, and some others, as Anders would say, in China, at home. And therefore, you need to be on these platforms if you're going to be successful.
AB: [00:06:52] Look at the use case, we're not going to do the mathematics now, but look at the use case of an internal meeting opening in a B2B company or wherever, someone says, "OK, this is the agenda, I'm just going to open the slides. Oh, is this not on SharePoint, perhaps on my hard drive." If I'm prepared for that meeting and voice functions, voice asks me: "Meeting is coming up. Do you want me to open the presentation?" "Yes, please. I would love for you to open the presentation, Alexa," or whoever it is and then we get going. If you open the PowerPoint with the sort of management team, why do we sit and hit the buttons? Should have happened already.
AE: [00:07:40] And Stellan, how would you think about chatbots as a decision maker?
SB: [00:07:48] As a decision maker? I would probably think about it as a way to scale and make our support more efficient. And I would probably think is our customer base, our audience ready to do that instead of phoning a number that they have and that they frequently call and they know that they can get what they need. And and my answer from an outside perspective would be, yes, it's just a question of habit. And if you make it more if you make a quicker answer through the bot, definitely. But if it is a bot that just takes you on some pretty ride somewhere and after 10 minutes, you still have no answer and you have to call anyway, it's never going to work. So it's about the quality of the service in the end.
AE: [00:08:45] Anders, do you agree?
AB: [00:08:45] You would love for Stellan and me to disagree.
AE: [00:08:48] Yeah, that would be interesting!
AB: [00:08:52] I would say that it's one of the ten touchpoints that everyone expects, one, to exist, and at least one out of 100, that it's manned and very, very loaded with expertise, whether it's a chatbot or an individual. Not a transactional "I will help you, wait a while." Promptly, immediately.
AE: [00:09:20] And Anders, AI, artificial intelligence. What would be, or what is your opinion on that as a decision maker? How do you view that?
AB: [00:09:33] Used right it makes life processes, efficiency, happiness, business better.
AE: [00:09:40] And Stellan?
SB: [00:09:42] I think it's it's a topic that is being discussed in all organisations and it's a topic where people have a hard time finding the right competence or I would say the right use cases for it. And so it's sort of easier to apply perhaps in marketing and do it as part of your advertising efforts and stuff like that. But I think where it makes real sense is more in terms of design, development, product development and so on, where you can, the normal platforms that you use anyway start to apply AI so you don't have to, so to speak. That's what we're going to see.
AE: [00:10:29] How would you work to find those use cases? What would you initiate?
SB: [00:10:35] Well, as I said, I think it's it's it's going to be difficult for most organisations to do their own sort of a development based on their own use cases. I think where the big lift is going to come from is when, like players like Autodesk or Salesforce or HubSpot and so on start to apply to their platforms and therefore make it sort of a part of your normal design, development, sales, marketing processes and so forth and so on. And that's when we're going to see AI being really adopted broadly, I think.
AE: [00:11:15] And Anders, personalisation?
AB: [00:11:19] If I'm a decision maker and I've been working for quite a while, I've heard the shit since the mid 90s. So please organisation, let's define the why, let's decide the how and what, and roll it out within a month in the first version. Wherever we look in the company, the tools now exist that didn't exist '95. But let's stop talking about it and let's start making it happen.
SB: [00:11:48] To bridge what Anders is saying, like we just talked about AI, so like OK, fifteen years ago everybody talked about increasing your personalization, blah, blah, blah. And now it's like AI, and in fifteen years, AI is going to be where personalization is now.
AB: [00:12:06] But in this case in two years, or five years.
SB: [00:12:10] Yeah. So, so definitely, all cycles get shorter and shorter.
AB: [00:12:17] It would be interesting if we could measure how much time all B2B companies have been spending on learning new buzzwords and integrating it in everyday talk to the sort of corporate dictionary without anything changed, just sort of adapting to the words from a PR perspective.
SB: [00:12:41] Yeah. But yeah, perhaps we could have some of our listeners send in an email to Anders, Alex or me saying, OK, this is the top ten list of words we talked a lot about, but we never applied in anything, that would be really interesting.
AB: [00:12:59] In their defense, we can say most likely they have bought a tool that at that moment of time referred a lot to the buzzword.
AE: [00:13:10] And then what do you think about video marketing Stellan, is that something you?
SB: [00:13:16] Yeah. As a decision maker, I, I would not spend a lot of time really contemplating about the tactics. I think it's sort of the format of how we communicate is something that sort of experts in the organization should handle. That's probably how I would think about it if I get sort of more of a personal or outside view on it. I think that it's very clear that video is getting more and more important and that you can convey a lot more with video than you can in text and also that, yeah, just having the choice between text, audio and video makes your audience, gives them more options to consume more content, which I think is super important.
AE: [00:14:07] What's your opinion on that Anders?
AB: [00:14:10] I think it's a very easy thing, exactly like Stellan said, leave it to the stakeholders internally and externally, the target groups and everyone else to decide, you must provide things audio, video, text and blah, blah, they decide. Both your sort of colleagues and your customers and prospects and shareholders. Everyone decides. Today we already know from all the facts and figures that people prefer different things depending on where they are and what they do. But you need to provide everything. And of course, it's a very good possibility when you not only can read the notes from a meeting, if you have a couple of minutes to sort of go quickly through the video from the meeting to see the expressions and everything else. So provide it, make it a part of how you work.
AE: [00:15:06] So we're talking a lot of trends and a bit about buzzwords in digitalisation and online in this episode. My final questions you can answer as Anders and Stellan, and I start with you, Stellan, do you think that digitalisation has really picked up speed due to the pandemic?
AB: [00:15:29] Is that a yes or no question?
AE: [00:15:31] Well, yes, but you can elaborate a bit on it.
SB: [00:15:35] Yes, I think it's obvious. I think everything in working from home to shopping through online, all figures in all corners of the world are pointing to the fact that we moved a couple of years in the last year, in where we would have otherwise been in the projection of these curves.
AB: [00:16:00] I love to say no on this one. I cannot answer anything else than yes, but we will see what happens when the sort of these extraordinary times are over, how many years most people move back, because it's a bit tricky that people think that they are now sort of digitalising their way of working just because they sit in front of someone in a video. So just to make you happy Alexander, I will answer no on this one, so that you now know that Stellan and I are not always agreeing. So it's a no from me.
SB: [00:16:40] I think a very good way of looking at this is, I don't know who said it or if I read it somewhere, but trends that were already progressing before the pandemic and got accelerated by it will probably not go back, but behaviors and stuff that were forced due to the pandemic, will go back to the way it was. So, yes, we will go out and go to concerts and so on. But will we go back to buying our clothes and so on in stores? Probably not to the degree that we will go out and enjoy music and eat out.
AE: [00:17:20] That's good. Thank you very much. What did you think about the new format in this episode?
SB: [00:17:26] We'll see when the magic is done.
AB: [00:17:28] Yeah, you ask about the experiment with Zencastr or sort of the idea of the program, the episode?
AE: [00:17:36] I was asking you about the episode.
AB: [00:17:39] It was fantastic Alexander, it was a marvelous idea and a fantastic approach by the host. I'm amazed.
AE: [00:17:47] Thank you very much. Thank you very much. And I'm sitting on a ball. Maybe the audience who watched this episode have seen. Thank you very much for the ball, Anders.
AB: [00:18:02] Don't thank me, thank Jeff.
AE: [00:18:07] Have you tried yours Stellan?
SB: [00:18:09] No, I went to pick it up yesterday, but since it was sent through Schenker, unfortunately, sorry for bashing a company on the pod, that you needed to have a physical ID card with you, since you cannot use BankID. So please Schenker, add BankID.
AB: [00:18:32] I can add to that, when you do business with Jeff, you don't BankID either.
AE: [00:18:43] Ok, guys, thank you very much.