Thursday, January 28, 2010

6 things the iPad means for B2B Marketers

Yesterday, Steve Jobs announced Apple's latest device, the iPad. A 10 inch, touch-screen tablet with Wi-Fi access, and an extension of the iPhone/iPod platform for both application development and media purchase. It's a beautiful device, as is expected from Apple, and will surely see plenty of uptake over the coming year.

The transition that this causes in the consumer market, and to book sellers, has already been much discussed. As a marketer focused on selling to businesses, however, there remains the question of what effect this will have.

Here are six important changes that we will likely see, as B2B marketers, as the iPad and its peers become more commonplace:

1) Returning relevance of print media: the iPad is designed to shake up the print landscape, for newspapers, magazines, and periodicals. If it succeeds in this, we will see the transition of that subscriber base from off-line to digital. This means that print advertising, long too untargeted to be a mainstay of B2B marketing, may make its return. With pay-for-performance price models and highly precise targeting, the advertising opportunities may be as interesting to B2B marketers as search engines were 5 years ago.

2) Integration of offline and online experiences: the form factor of a tablet makes it extremely easy to have with you at all points in the day. For B2B marketers at offline events such as seminars and tradeshows, this means that the online and offline experiences can be melded seamlessly. A salesperson carrying an iPad can easily segue into a live demonstration if the conversation goes that way, and a prospect carrying an iPad can be guided to online resources during the booth conversation if it makes sense to. The integrated experience can be much greater than either alone.

3) Books and whitepapers become interactive: as books and whitepapers are more and more read on devices like an iPad, rich interactive aspects become increasingly possible. Embedded videos within a book, links for more detailed exploration of topics, and interactive experiences to highlight a point all become possible, allowing us to rethink the book and whitepaper formats entirely.

4) Location awareness in everything: Although only the 3G model of the iPad appears to have GPS, the Wi-Fi will enable location detection, and it is not a great leap to assume that GPS will be commonplace in future models. As more devices become location aware, more applications will be re-factored to take advantage of that location knowledge. New applications like foursquare, or older applications like LinkedIn will build deep location knowledge of people in your network, allowing new forms of social networking to increasingly bridge the physical divide. Similarly, this will allow much more accurate location-based message targeting and may revive the local breakfast or lunch event as it becomes easier to connect with only local executives.

5) Application explosion: The prevalence of iPad devices, if successful, in the executive audiences who make most B2B purchase decisions could mean a great opportunity for freemium iPad applications that would help those executives in one aspect of their daily lives, while building the case for your full solution.

6) Sales enablement enrichment: A field sales person is another likely candidate for iPad adoption, and their ability to remain mobile while working with a full-size form factor device means that their need for insights and data on leads will greatly increase. Rather than just wanting the name and phone number of a lead sent to their Blackberry, they will insist on rich activity data and deeper insights being available on their iPad.

If the iPad is successful, it will certainly affect all aspects of society, much as the iPhone has done. As B2B marketers, we will benefit from watching these trends as they unfold and hopefully being ahead of them.

What are your thoughts on these trends? Any I have missed?
Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
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Unknown said...

I'm definitely interested in getting this for my field sales reps - it seems like a potentially great fit.

Christopher Korody said...

Hi Steven -

Great synthesis of the possibilities

Not sure about the returning relevance of print media - have to see - but hope all those fine writers, illustrators and photographers find a home - much too rich a resource to lose

I think that video comes up bigger then you are setting up - for instance, why hang with whitepapers in a situation where the product is kinetic or there is a lot of emotion - personally I am liking video case studies and this is a great platform for YouTube style user generated content

I am talking a lot about bringing the support to the problem or the user environment - the iPad is obviously a lot more useful in a lot of situations

The location awareness piece is going to be big as people and perhaps more importantly the press - get past the big brother paranoia .

When paired with augmented reality its going to be a lot more impactful on the bigger screen.


Steven Woods said...

Good points. I'm intrigued as to where video ends up... it is a much more emotionally powerful medium, but it is not "scannable" for quick bites of information and not (yet) searchable (internal contents).

Both of those might keep it focused on specific uses for a while, I suspect.


Paul McKeon said...

Thanks for the flash of insight that the iPad opens up new channels for B2B marketing content, especially rethinking the book and white paper formats.

The ability to create rich media content has been with us in the web browser for a while (much of it enabled by Flash, but that's another thread). But the book and white paper remain true to their traditional print formats. We haven't gotten much farther than the PDF file. Why? And how will the iPad change that?

I suspect that if the iPad helps content creators to get more...creative, it will be because of the sheer portability of the device.