"I came. I saw. I conquered."
Were Julius Caesar a B2B online marketer in 2010, his words may have more appropriately been:
"I created. I shared. I conversed."
Even five years ago, the concept of engaging the customer in dialogue, let alone allowing the customer to drive the conversation, would have been both foreign and frightening.
Today, marketers that are actively engaging their customers and their communities through social media and sharing relevant, meaningful content with them are leading the charge toward a new era of online marketing -- an era in which the customer, not the brand, is King.
And, no longer is a solid brand message and well articulated value proposition enough for our King. When it comes to learning more about our brands and products, our customers don't just want a message, they want a conversation.
So, it comes as no surprise that 2010 would be the year of social media. Would marketers in 2009 ever have imagined Facebook could surpass Google to become the most visited site in the US? Or, that a world of consumers and marketers alike could be so captivated by a man riding a horse, pitching Old Spice? Highly unlikely.
Indeed, creativity and innovation have reigned supreme in 2010 --easily evidenced in the overwhelming draw toward social media and immense push toward new and dynamic methods of on-demand customer engagement, including mobile, whose marketing budgets alone are expected to increase by 124% from 2010 to 2011.
Also expected to increase in 2011 are content marketing budgets, further evidence of the growing demand by customers to take the product information reigns from marketers and educate themselves through E-Newsletters, whitepapers, webinars, case studies and blogs.
If we take anything away from 2010, it should be this: Customers want brand interaction -- they want to ask questions, to give their feedback and to gather their own information at their own pace.
And, as marketers, we should want customer interaction -- by answering questions, listening to feedback and creating both educational and even entertaining content, we're able to successfully capture customer attention and build an engaged and enthused customer base that is able to spread our brand messaging farther than we ever could on our own.
At Business.com, we're particularly aware of the overwhelming participation and support that we've received from our customers over the past year, especially in the celebration of our 10th anniversary. We're honored to be a part of such a sophisticated and engaged online marketing community.
As 2010 draws to a close, one can't help but acknowledge that, in spite of the hard economic times and lean marketing budgets, this year in online marketing was one of the most exciting, creative and dynamic years yet for B2B online marketers.
We can only hope you've had as much enjoyment engaging your clients in 2010 as we have, and we hope you look to them to help you write your success story for 2011 and beyond.
From all of us at Business.com, we wish you a very Happy Holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year.