For most of us, when we become immersed with something we care about, like, or even love, we become completely involved. All of our mental faculties are devoted to a particular experience. As an example, when we travel to a foreign country, we can become immersed completely in a foreign culture. Experiencing for the first time how people in other countries go about their daily lives.
With the tumultuous changes occurring in the new digital economy, markets, consumers, and businesses can seem quite foreign when compared to a decade ago. These hyper changes occurring are rapidly altering behaviors and how people in general go about their daily personal and professional lives. The inability to adjust or adapt to this new behavioral phenomenon can leave many B2C and B2B marketing organizations bewildered. Continuing an exhaustive search on how to understand and connect with consumers and buyers in new ways.
B2C Catches On To Immersive Research And Experience
During the past five plus years, we are beginning to see the adoption of different approaches in B2C in terms of how to understand consumer behaviors and to create new immersive experiences. Digital technologies are not only causing rapid changes but are also offering B2C the means to create new immersive experiences. Yet, the concept of being even-handed with immersive research knowledge is not lost. For example, Disney is well known for using its theme park worlds as a platform for immersive ethnography based research. A few of years ago, Disney found the rise in blended families called for new experiences and services due to a new myriad of reasons why blended families attended theme parks.
In the world of entertainment and games, we are seeing the move to immersive experiences become a bigger part of humanizing offerings as well a how these industries approach marketing. Most importantly, affecting how storytelling can become an essential element of connecting with consumers. Here is a fantastic video on the topic of connected immersion featuring a leader in this concept, Susan Bonds, CEO of 42 Entertainment. It is helpful in not only describing the concept of immersion in marketing, but in also seeing and hearing impressive examples:
What particularly draws me to this video is the notion of creating an immersive environment. These environments are designed to create an experience, a memory, and a strong emotional human connection. While we may see entertainment and games as the forerunners of immersive experience, we are seeing leading consumer packaged brands incorporate this approach into their own marketing. Here is an example of Proctor and Gamble using the platform of the recent Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics to build empathy with Moms as well as create an immersive experience through a storytelling approach:
The Connected Immersion Mandate For B2B
As the world of B2B buyers and operations continues to undergo ground shaking shifts in behaviors, B2B marketing will need to reinvent conventional approaches in both research and experience. We are seeing the crossover of consumer-like experience become a demand of business buyers as well as users who are more influential today.
In B2B, there can be an infatuation with data, analytics, and predicting. A longing for the ease of painting by numbers to have a clear picture of customers and buyers magically appear. Big data has become big business because this chase alone for the ultimate picture is proving elusive. And, it is why B2B must look to embracing immersive research and creating immersive experiences.
What must B2B think about in order to develop a Connected Immersion approach? Here are a few suggestions:
- Commit to qualitative immersion research. With the fabric of B2B business models, operations, and environments transforming, B2B marketing will need to gain deep understanding through immersion–based research efforts. Such as immersive on-site ethnography as well as digital immersion research approaches.
- Recognize buyer persona development as an immersion research approach. Personas are meant to be a communications platform for translating insights resulting from immersive research. Recent surveys showing lack of impact from buyer persona initiatives can be directly related to this failure to see persona development as an immersion research effort.
- Make immersion strategic. When it comes to strategic decision-making, B2B executives can over rely on analytics and lack human connection. Embed immersive insights into strategic understanding and decision-making.
- Focus on drawing buyers into immersive experiences. In general, B2B has operated with an invisible wall between sellers and buyers. Buyers today desire radical openness and transparency. Making it especially important for B2B businesses to offer open immersive experiences as part of the buying experience as well as for a holistic customer experience.
- Create connected immersion experiences. Although there has been an enormous jumping on the bandwagon of content marketing, the mindset of B2B marketing continues to be focused on the “document” – almost exclusively. For B2B marketing organizations, I would be careful about doubling down on transforming marketing into a publishing department. Far more creativity and innovativeness will be needed to meet the call for creating connected immersive experiences in B2B.
The Future Of Connected Immersion In B2B
As more and more connected immersion marketing evolves in the world of consumers, you will see B2B customers and buyers seek the same. As personal and professional lives evolve as well as blend, expectations for immersive experiences will continue to grow. Requiring new creative means for engaging customers and buyers in connected experiences, which give glimpses into what the future will look like.
One of the next big things in B2B marketing will be the concept of connected immersion. B2B organizations, which are slow to embrace this inevitable demand from buyers, will find themselves – disconnected.