How Manufacturing Marketers Can Help B2B Buyers During Their Self-Directed Research Process

Episode 42

July 16, 2019

Jeff and Carman talk with Google’s Tarun Rathnam, Head of Industry for B2B Advertising, and Aaron Hite, Partner Lead, in this episode of The Kula Ring. With at least two thirds of B2B buyers preferring to conduct their own research online according to Google’s study with Comscore, they discuss how manufacturing marketers can adapt their marketing strategies to reach B2B buyers throughout their self-directed research process.

How Manufacturing Marketers Can Help B2B Buyers During Their Self-Directed Research Process Transcript:

Announcer: You՚re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White.

Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring. My name is Jeff White, and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how are you doing?

Carman Pirie: I am doing well, but your timing of the start of this podcast happened just as I was taking another drink of water. So I rushed in, but hopefully it worked out. I almost-

Jeff White: Well, I spent many years as a waiter, so I՚m very good at asking how people are doing while they՚re eating or drinking.

Carman Pirie: Yes, precisely at the right or wrong time depending on one՚s point of view.

Jeff White: Yeah.

Carman Pirie: I think today՚s show is going to be really cool.

Jeff White: Yeah, I think it՚s going to be a pretty interesting one. It՚s not directly a conversation with manufacturing marketers, but with some folks who directly influence, shape-

Carman Pirie: And work with manufacturing marketers every day.

Jeff White: Yeah, for sure.

Carman Pirie: Please, introduce our guests from Google.

Jeff White: Yeah. A little company called Google. I suppose we probably don՚t have to get you guys to explain what your company does. Unlike many of the guests that we have on the show-

Carman Pirie: You՚ll save us like five minutes.

Jeff White: Yeah. So joining us today is Aaron Hite, partner lead at Google, and Tarun Rathnam, head of industry for B2B advertising at Google. Welcome, gentlemen.

Aaron Hite: Thank you. Thank you for having us.

Tarun Rathnam: Yes, thanks.

Carman Pirie: It՚s really wonderful to have you on the show today. I think our listeners would really benefit from your insight and expertise, and kind of what you՚re seeing from your point of view of what՚s happening in the manufacturing marketing and B2B industrial space more broadly. Let՚s just dive right into it.

I՚m wondering what you can tell us about the trends that you՚re seeing in B2B industrial buying behavior online. Let՚s just start there.

Tarun Rathnam: Sounds great, and the answer is a lot. A lot is changing, and it has many implications for everyone in that space. I՚m going to try and break it down to maybe three major trends that I think are probably most valuable to your listener base and our clients in the B2B world.

The first one is very much around how self-directed B2B buyers are becoming in their research towards the purchase of any industrial manufacturing or B2B product or service. We conducted a study with Comscore in 2018 that showed that at this point in time, at least two thirds of B2B buyers prefer to research online on their own as opposed to needing the assistance or engaging a sales rep in their process. And that in itself is up 13 points a year on year from 2017. In our research overall, we found that at least half of the B2B buyers that do use sales reps prefer to opt out entirely throughout the purchase path.

So with digital now coming to the fore in B2B, it offers a platform for B2B buyers to do not just their independent research, but get themselves to the point where they can actually make a purchase without having the need to work with a sales rep from the vendor that is in their consideration set. And this is kind of come to bear following what we՚ve seen in B2C. Take the example of auto buyers who are now opting out of dealing with salespeople at dealerships and prefer to go through the buying process completely online, without having to actually work with the classic car salesperson and that experience.

Carman Pirie: That՚s, that՚s an interesting parallel that I guess I hadn՚t really thought of in many ways because, I mean, it is often seen as one of the more complex purchases that an individual makes, typically guided by a sales professional at some point along the way.

Jeff White: Let me just draw this four quadrant diagram and see where you fit.

Carman Pirie: But at some point, you՚re quite right. That buying behavior has completely shifted. So it՚s interesting to think of B2B mirroring that B2C trend.

Tarun Rathnam: It is true. And to your point, the engagement, even though buyers may choose to engage with a sales rep, it is never that only point of connection. And we find that online drives at least 50% of the touch points of direct sales as well. So think about emails, filling out forms, chats, phone calls, finding locations to go, get more information so you can actually see products live, or speak to experts. Technology has a role to play, and digital has a role to play in all of that.

So what՚s the implication for B2B marketers here? It՚s just fundamentally you need to have an experience on your website that allows buyers to opt into their own research path to easily find the information they need and to then choose to engage with someone if they want to, but forcing them into, for example, the lead gen form or gating your pricing where you need to speak to someone to get those answers is only going to frustrate the buyer in the way that they are shifting how they՚d like to conduct their purchases.

So that՚s what՚s happening in terms of buyers being more self-directed. Somewhat related to that is the fact that mobile is becoming now the primary device through which they are self-directed in their research. So we find that at this point between 50 and 70% of searches in B2B category are on a mobile versus desktop. And if you look at just e-commerce for B2B as a subset of that, mobile site visits on an e-comm mobile site are up 22% year on year. But if you look at the same trend on desktop, it՚s actually down a percent year on year.

Carman Pirie: Fascinating. I՚m wondering, are you seeing any kind of time of day changes as well in that? Anecdotally, we՚ve seen instances where B2B buyers are searching on mobile perhaps in the commute to work or what have you, and then completing research or conducting further research, completing purchases or what have you from the desktop when they arrive. But is that in some ways dated now and we՚re just simply seeing a shift to mobile across the board regardless of kind of time of day?

Tarun Rathnam: I՚m glad you actually mentioned that. If I was to say there is a cyclical behavior to how people search, it՚s probably more so in desktop now than it is in mobile. We maybe just don՚t realize it, but we՚re on our phones so many times in intermittent ways during the course of a day. Yes, it՚s on your commute in. Yes, it՚s when you first wake up in the morning. Yes, it՚s in between meetings when you՚re at work. Yes, it՚s when you are taking a lunch break. Yes, it՚s in the afternoon when you need a break from whatever you՚ve been staring at for 40 minutes. And yes, it՚s on your commute home. Yes, it՚s after you put your kids to bed. And then yes, it՚s the last thing you do before you call it a day. So mobile is, it is not a kind of time of day-

Applying a time of day strategy to mobile would not be a best practice that I would recommend anyone in the advertising world to take.

Carman Pirie: That՚s fair. That՚s fair.

Jeff White: That is really interesting, though, because I mean, for the longest time, the context of how and where you՚re using your mobile device has kind of driven a number of thoughts around how you might structure a site, so we don՚t need to even think about that anymore because it՚s just such a prevalent thing.

Carman Pirie: Yeah, of course. Just think about your own behavior through a day. Not to use self-reference criteria too strongly, but how many times are you sitting looking at a laptop with a phone in your hands, you know?

Tarun Rathnam: That՚s right. I mean, research has become increasingly more multi device as well, which makes life a little bit more difficult for B2B marketers, and we՚ll talk about how we think they can deal with that moving forward. But another point I wanted to make on mobile here also is the way in which it՚s actually accelerating time to purchase. We just published some joint research with BCG, the Boston Consulting Group. Part of it points to the fact that mobile is actually fast tracking purchase time by as much as 20%, and it՚s driving efficiencies in decision making, enhanced team collaboration on the buyer side, particularly so with the complex purchases that are at high price points. So if anything, it՚s actually going to help you beyond just being able to reach them. It might actually drive your buyer to a decision faster.

Carman Pirie: This is fascinating to me because it runs completely counter to what the folks at Gartner CEB are saying around complex B2B purchases where more people are getting involved in them year over year. And when more people get involved, the sales cycle gets longer, and the propensity not to buy anything goes up. So the fact that your research with Boston Consulting Group is showing on those purchases that are at the very least influenced by online behavior, which we know are the majority of them, that you՚re actually seeing an accelerated path to purchase. What՚s the degree of speeding up that we՚re seeing here?

Tarun Rathnam: So I think your point overall, and the point that Gartner makes is fairly spot on. The decision-making process is becoming way more complicated than it used to be. And what maybe we thought as classically a C-suite employee signing off on something and making a decision in isolation is just completely untrue now. Millennials now make up 35% of the workforce. Ten years ago that was just 8%. And they are at least a third of B2B influencers today. And three fourths of those influencers, by the way, are under the age of 45. So with all of that in case, you cannot expect to apply the same process to reaching these people as you did the folks who are 45 plus. They are used to consuming information in different ways, and that՚s what they՚re going to demand in their B2B buying journeys, whether they are the ultimate buyer or the influencer.

So look, the point in terms of the process becoming more complex is 100% true. In many cases, that means it takes longer to make a decision because it is a more complex decision in which more stakeholders have to weigh in, and you have to speak to all of those stakeholders, but when you do leverage mobile, you՚re ultimately improving what is a more challenging problem and making it less slow, so to speak, if that makes sense. And that is very much influenced by who the decision maker now is, trending much younger with very different buying behavior patterns and research patterns.

Carman Pirie: That՚s a fantastic insight. I՚d be curious to kind of go that one step further that you alluded to just a few moments ago in exploring how you՚re suggesting marketers can cater to these trends and begin to change their strategies to reflect what you՚re seeing.

Aaron Hite: Yeah. This is Aaron. I՚ll take that one. So to kind of align with what Tarun was saying on the B2B buyers being more self-directed as one of the kind of major trends we՚re seeing. There are a few things that are becoming more and more critical for marketers to do to play into this more self-sufficient buyer. And one of the most important is around choice. You know, historically, B2B companies, marketers have been quick to throw a lead form or a talk-to-a-salesperson button in front of a purchaser researcher. What we՚re seeing is offering choice is becoming much more important. So folks who are ready to talk to a salesperson or submit a lead, they can go ahead and do that. But those who are not, those who are kind of still in that research phase, offering content to them, offering deeper engagement that helps them along their path to purchase, helps them uncover more information about your product or service.

With that, I՚m thinking about the content side of things. It՚s also important to think about providing a variety of content. So not only going to have different types of stakeholders that Tarun was just mentioning from C-suite down to end user at the company, or end buyer at the company. You՚re also going to have people visiting your digital properties at various points in their own journey, right? So understanding how to develop content at multiple levels. So for example, business impact level product attributes down to product implementation and actual product usage. You really need to cover all of those levels, kind of a content funnel, if you will, so that you՚re not only matching the right content to the right researcher, but also able to match that content to where they are in their kind of research journey.

Jeff White: Aaron, are there specific types or formats of content that you՚re seeing that are performing particularly well?

Aaron Hite: Yeah, I think, you know, as much as B2B marketers have tried to move away from the old B2B white paper and general product information, that still works really well. So a white paper download, some sort of pamphlet download that they can print out, have on their desk. It՚s easy to hand around. We՚re seeing a lot in the video space, obviously. Not only on a channel like YouTube for example, lots of research activity happening there and engagement, but also using that content on your website to provide additional engagement. And then all the way, you know, so there՚s high-level content that you can produce from a video perspective all the way down to how to install and use the product. So video is a really interesting one, and we find it very engaging from a buyer perspective, and something that we՚re seeing a lot more B2B brands get better at over time.

Carman Pirie: And are you suggesting in some ways that this trend towards more self-directed research is also similarly driving a trend towards less gated content, that this additional content requirement that you՚re discussing ought to be, tend to be leaning towards not being gated versus a gated lead capture?

Aaron Hite: Yeah, absolutely. We are also seeing that trend. More often than not, folks are moving away from the kind of historical idea of I need to protect all my content behind this gate. So especially for things like video or more digital related content, it really doesn՚t make sense anymore to put a gate up because you can then use data from engagement from past behaviors on the website to then build a profile of that user and begin to market to them more effectively over time with a more relevant message versus kind of getting in their way and causing some friction by forcing them to give you 10 lines of form information before you get their white paper.

Carman Pirie: Yeah, indeed. I mean, even when you think about video, I think even sometimes integrating lead capture into the video at a later stage versus before seeing it can at least get you part of the way there. I find it interesting, it՚s kind of almost a two-stage evolution for a lot of these B2B marketers. I mean, in one case, they were gating content to the point of view of just not making it available at all unless you talk to a salesperson.

Aaron Hite: Right.

Carman Pirie: In some ways putting it behind an easy signup is un-gating it at least partially, but I tend to agree that I think the trend more broadly is driving towards making more of that free without having to have the permission assets.

Aaron Hite: Right. And it also goes along really nicely with the mobile conversation we՚re having as well. So gated content on a mobile device is really difficult for people to interact with. You know, filling out a form on a mobile device is still not as easy as it should be. In addition, reading text on a mobile device is also more difficult than viewing a video, for example. So really easy to access video content works really well on mobile as well because it՚s just easy to consume. So that՚s something that՚s an interesting trend as well.

Jeff White: This goes back to our previous campaign to kill the pdf where we were trying to get people away from doing white papers in pdf format because they՚re so impossible to use on mobile devices, you know, and making them native and of the web. But we were still talking at that point about putting them behind signup, but just having them as a landing page in white paper.

Carman Pirie: Gentlemen I should tell you to fully close the loop on that, that the biggest change we needed to make to killing the pdf was to introduce a button to save that as a pdf. So-

Jeff White: Not the most successful campaign in our history.

Carman Pirie: The demand for pdf persists.

Jeff White: Right.

Carman Pirie: I want to jump into how you՚re seeing different types of advertising supporting this B2B purchase and research process. We՚ve discussed some of these trends and how marketers maybe need to recalibrate. Can we expand on that?

Aaron Hite: Yeah, absolutely. So a few things that come to mind on that. You know, one of the most important is really understanding that there are a lot of touch points in this B2B buying journey. Some of our research from BCG as well, something around 50% of B2B buyers are viewing eight plus pieces of content during the purchase process. So really important to understand what types of content your users are most likely, your potential customers are most likely to engage in. Providing high value content. Again, it doesn՚t need to be of extreme depth at every step of the process, but being able to be helpful, kind of be there, be brief, help them along their journey, especially considering again the mobile behavior that is a little more fleeting. It happens quickly. People want to move on their next task, so engaging customers across channels in that way, understanding there are quite a few touch points along the way.

The second thing that we՚ve been thinking a lot about is storytelling. And you know, as you guys probably know, historically B2B brands՚ marketers have not always been that great at what we think of as kind of storytelling, if you will. An example of that is, going back to the video point, something along the lines of 25 plus percent of B2B researchers are using video and other research channels to kind of discover new brands, new companies they weren՚t aware of. And we have data that shows that video is much more relevant than a lot of other, we՚ll call kind of non-search digital media channels. But only 7% of those B2B researchers remember seeing ads on the whole of video ads, excuse me. So I mean, we think, quite honestly, the simple answer, the simple reason is because so many B2B marketers and brands just historically have done a really good job at putting effort into their kind of more rational marketing messages. Here՚s what my product is, here՚s what it does, here՚s how you can learn more. Give us a lead, right?

The missing piece is more of that emotional marketing, emotional content. Some of our research from a couple of years back shows that business decision makers in that B2B purchase journey actually prefer videos that make them laugh or are inspiring or even feature an industry influencer or celebrity. You see more of that happening with brands today that kind of really make that personal connection on an emotional level versus the more rational level.

Jeff White: The Kula Ring is proud to be a media sponsor of the 2019 ManufacturED Summit conference being held September 16-18 in Chicago, Illinois. Carman and I will be live on site recording interviews for future episodes of The Kula Ring. Save $200 now with the discount code KULAPARTNERS200 at That՚s

Carman Pirie: Man, that can be a really challenging thing for some B2B marketers, especially in a more industrial category. It can be a hard thing for them to sell into an organization that thinks they sell just very, well-engineered goods made by smart people for, purchased by other engineers.

Jeff White: In regulated industries.

Carman Pirie: Yeah.

Aaron Hite: Yeah.

Carman Pirie: But I think you՚re quite right. The demand for storytelling still exists because we՚re still selling to humans at the end of the day, regardless if it՚s B2B or B2C, and humans respond to narrative regardless of context.

Aaron Hite: Absolutely. Our line on that is, don՚t think about this person as a B2B researcher. You think about them as a father or a millennial or a fisherman, whatever that might be, to begin to understand your customer at a deeper level so that you can connect more effectively before they get to kind of that product information stage.

One other thing I՚ll mention on this is kind of going back to that buyer՚s journey. So you know, obviously as Tarun was mentioning, digital really does play a critical role. But when you think about all of the channels and all of the ways that advertising can support this B2B purchase research process, it՚s important to note that digital can also act as a kind of a connective tissue. So knowing that, especially in kind of the industrial space, a lot of B2B advertisers have relied heavily on traditional branding, traditional channels.

But we do know from some recent research with Deloitte that all of those channels plus digital, so folks that are exposed to both digital and traditional, were two x more likely to search for brands, three and a half x more likely to visit the website, and almost four x more likely to fill out a lead gen form. So understanding where your customer is, the best ways for them to interact with your brand across all channels, and even potentially using digital as a connective tissue for those more traditional channels, is a really high-impact way to continue to kind of reach your customer during that eight plus connecting contact points during their purchase process or research process.

Carman Pirie: That՚s a great point. And of course, I mean, digital has a lot more capacity to stay connected in that extended sales cycle as well, whereas a lot of the more traditional forms of advertising aren՚t subject to as much frequency. You can՚t change up in some ways the message that you՚re showing at different stages in the process as readily as you can with digital.

Aaron Hite: Absolutely. The last thing I՚ll mention here, which I think is an important point that we haven՚t gone too much into yet, is around measurement and understanding your KPIs and objectives. As a marketer in this kind of new world, knowing that to your point, it՚s no longer only the download a pdf or email me a pdf conversion, but understanding what we kind of refer to as micro conversions. What are those site activities? What kind of content are they engaging with? How long did they watch that video on your website? All of these signals should be baked into your objectives and your KPIs, and over time, you can connect those signals to really understand what your highest value potential customers look like, what sort of content they engage with. So over time, that becomes your conversion, and those signals allow you to not only better communicate with an identified high value prospect, but then also go out into advertising and find more of those high value prospects.

Carman Pirie: Yeah, could certainly help inform lead scoring amongst that. I mean it՚s just, it՚s obvious.

Aaron Hite: Yeah.

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Let՚s dive into any, kind of, what՚s around the corner? What are the emerging trends or best practices that you՚re seeing that perhaps we haven՚t touched on?

Tarun Rathnam: Yeah, let me take a stab at that, and hopefully we didn՚t paint too bleak of a picture with everything that՚s changing for a B2B marketer, right? We talked about the touch points across mobile, desktop, online, offline, the number of devices, the number of stakeholders, the timeline to decision making. There is a lot that a marketer has to now deal with, and if you react to that and you say, okay, great, I՚m going to have this multi-touchpoint, multi-platform, multi-message marketing, and you՚re capturing all the right data about all the things that you should, you now have a new problem. You have too much data to deal with. You don՚t know what to do with it all. So good news is, I have a couple of best practices or suggestions to B2B marketers that I think will be helpful.

The first one, hopefully now is a fairly obvious answer to the problem of too much data, is machine learning, to leverage machine learning as your best friend to automate, and to learn, and to customize and personalize for you. And look, with Google you can do this in varying different ways with all the right data in our ad platforms, you could do everything from customize the message you put it in front of a different person, whether that՚s a certain call to action on search. You can literally change the creative of a video dynamically based on what you think is most appealing to the person, and where they are in your, in their journey in terms of making that purchase and being your customer.

And then you can also figure out how much to invest in doing that, and what is the right, acceptable rate of return for your business, which makes all of this, ideally, a lot simpler for a marketer, a lot more scalable, but also profitable. And so machine learning is, I think still coming to the bear when it comes to B2B marketing, but it is going to have a critical role to play in helping marketers be successful.

Carman Pirie: One thing I՚ve found is that, I mean, there՚s a certain, I mean, I՚m not going to say that there՚s a limit to it, but I guess, how do you address that opportunity for those B2B marketers who aren՚t getting scads of traffic to their website, that work in particularly niche industries? Is the opportunity in some way less to automate that to have basically machine learning come into play?

Tarun Rathnam: To a certain extent, yes. I think machine learning is only as good as the data you provide it, right? And so with better data and over time, the models essentially just get smarter, and they make better decisions and come to better relationships and inferences about who that customer is, and what message you should put in front of it.

Carman Pirie: Yeah. It՚s an interesting challenge and it connects back to what Aaron said just earlier around basically having to broaden our KPIs and our understanding of how we measure our return on marketing investment. In some ways we՚ve done it to ourselves as digital marketers when we could give people the exact number of leads and the actual names of the people as a result of our efforts. Then to step back and say, yeah, but you know what, a two-minute video view from somebody who՚s nameless and faceless so far is also a good measure. It՚s interesting, we kind of, I think in some ways as marketers we kind of screwed ourselves a little bit.

Jeff White: It՚s almost like a bit of a step back.

Carman Pirie: Yeah. But I think you՚re… I think the advice that you folks are offering is sound, that we need to be getting more broad than that and understand that the digital experience that we՚re creating ought to be measured in a-

Jeff White: More holistic way.

Carman Pirie: Yeah.

Tarun Rathnam: Yeah. I think, well said. Look, there are more things, more touch points, more interactions, more micro conversions as Aaron put it, that you should be measuring that perhaps you՚re not paying attention to. And if you look at that full set of data, you now have a much richer picture of what your customer wants and how they behave than you did previously. So there are ways, I think, in addition to all of the data, it՚s also a skill set challenge, right? We need to change how we apply the tools that we have used yesterday in now the world of a very data heavy ML tool, heavy marketing world where I think fundamentally you need to be a better data scientist, more comfort with understanding how data is applied with automation to solve challenges at scale and offer better user experiences. And so some of our skillset and learning will need to adapt as well in time.

Carman Pirie: Great point. Great point.

Tarun Rathnam: I՚ve got one more point for you on an emerging trend, and this is the coming together of sales and marketing. Probably applicable to organizations where there are actual sales teams, but essentially what we found, we did research, and then found that there is a two-thirds increase in closing deals when sales and marketing teams work in closer sync with each other, and it՚s the age-old thing where a sales team, if they՚re not making their number, it՚s because the leads from marketing aren՚t very good. And marketing isn՚t cornering because the sales team doesn՚t do a good job of closing the leads that they have. So there is an opportunity to close that loop and be more data driven on both sides.

Once you hand, for example, the lead off to a salesperson, so much happens that could inform your marketing strategy as well. And that too is data that then can be applied to a machine learning model to again offer a better user experience and be more profitable about your marketing practices. So the moniker smarketing, the coming together of sales and marketing, is starting to get some momentum in the B2B world now.

Carman Pirie: I think that՚s an important note because sometimes we talk about bringing together sales and marketing, and it sounds like the benefit is one of basically Kumbaya, you know, like harmony is the benefit, and I think it՚s important to really point out that it goes well beyond that, that there՚s a strong monetary reason why bringing these two practices closer together is critical. And when you, I think you said a two-thirds increase in closing percentages-

Tarun Rathnam: That՚s right.

Carman Pirie: After they reached that, I՚m guessing there՚s some sort of a closeness threshold of sales and marketing. I wouldn՚t know how that would be measured, but I՚m assuming you all do.

Jeff White: You measure it that way when you get the Glengarry leads. That՚s how you know.

Carman Pirie: Cool. I՚m curious. I want to try to close out by… I think we՚d be almost doing ourselves a disservice if we didn՚t try to get some predictions about what՚s next when we have the folks from Google on the line. So what are your predictions for B2B research and purchase behavior, how that evolves digitally in the next year, five years? I՚ll let you pick the time horizon.

Tarun Rathnam: Well, you saved the easy question for the end. I think this is the moment where I say, okay Google and let the assistant answer the question. But in all seriousness, a couple of thoughts here to offer. So one, I think the catalyst for change, what is going to happen over the next few years, call it five if you will, is that the workforce will continue to get younger, number one. And two, the number of people contributing to a decision will only continue to go up. So with that, a couple of things change in terms of how I think B2B buying decisions and research will be done.

I think one, buyers are going to be more fickle and less loyal. The switching costs between platforms is just going down. I think if anything, data will be the largest switching cost to using one versus two solutions that do similar things inside of an enterprise. So there is room for, I՚d say, more vendors to go after the same business but know that your customer will be less loyal to you, and you need to keep them engaged, happy, and successful on your platform. So that will require more marketing throughout the life cycle of a B2B buyer as well.

And then the second thing is how people will actually make these decisions. I think there is the construct of a virtual boardroom or almost, call it the new nine to five where a third of the work is going to happen outside of the physical office. Most of that is going to be because people are either not co-located or doing work intermittent with when they are doing things for their personal life. So you are a B2C consumer, and a B2B buyer, and it՚s all very closely intertwined, and there aren՚t these very clear distinctions between the two, which makes it quite challenging.

So I think, if you think about number of emails, even, sent from outside the office, 89 million emails. I don՚t know if that՚s a day, I forget what the stat is there, but sent outside the office as opposed to in the office. So a lot of decision making is not happening physically sitting next to someone but virtually, whether that՚s through chat or through email or through video conferencing solutions as well.

So yeah, and I think also a lot of the communication will happen digitally. So where in the past a salesperson would sit down with the buyer and take them up to lunch and do the whole pitch, I think it՚s going to happen without you having the direct control because like we talked about, buyers are going to be more self-directed, so they՚re going to consume your content, and that is your sale. And so making sure you have the most relevant, rich, helpful, but easily digestible content out there is going to be key.

So yeah, those are the main things, and I think things like AR, VR, voice and assistance, as those technologies come to bear in our consumer lives, they will equally come to bear in our business lives because the two are blending so closely now.

Carman Pirie: Yeah. People don՚t wear two different hats. I mean, you՚re not a different person simply because you just showed up at work five minutes ago. I agree with you. The technology expectations transcend consumer business categories.

Jeff White: For sure.

Carman Pirie: I think this has been a fascinating conversation, gentlemen. I thank you for sharing your insights with us today, and I wish you all the best as we continue to see how this changing world of B2B research and purchase behavior unfolds.

Tarun Rathnam: Thank you so much for having us, and we wish the best success to all the B2B marketers out there and your listener base.

Carman Pirie: Take care now.

Jeff White: Thank you.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Kula Ring with Carman Pirie and and Jeff White. Don՚t miss a single manufacturing marketing insight, subscribe now at That՚s

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Tarun Rathnam

Head of Industry for B2B Advertising, Google

Tarun leads Google’s B2B Advertising practice based in Cambridge, MA; overseeing engagements with SaaS, Service & Industrial customers. He is a seasoned leader of growth teams across multiple technology verticals including consumer hardware, semiconductors, B2B SaaS, and adTech. Prior to Google, he worked in product & business development roles at Apple, and channel sales & marketing roles at Texas Instruments. Tarun holds engineering degrees from Georgia Tech and the University of Maine, as well as an MBA from MIT Sloan. He enjoys advising early stage tech startups in the Boston area, where he is an active angel.


Aaron Hite

Partner Lead, Google

Aaron Hite is a Partner Lead for B2B advertising at Google, based in Cambridge, MA. In this role, he advises brands on their digital advertising strategies across Google properties and platforms. Prior to Google, he spent 10+ years in the advertising agency space, including Digitas and 360i, working with a variety of brands including American Express, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Fisher Price. He has also worked in-house at Bank of America, where he was a founding member of the Digital Media Center of Excellence and has been an adjunct instructor in E-Commerce Marketing at NYU. He is a graduate of College of Charleston, where he serves on the Department of Communications Advisory Council. Aaron also has a MA in Communications from the University of Georgia.

The Kula Ring is a podcast for manufacturing marketers who care about evolving their strategy to gain a competitive edge.

Listen to conversations with North America’s top manufacturing marketing executives and get actionable advice for success in a rapidly transforming industry.

About Kula

Kula Partners is an agency that specializes in maximizing revenue potential for B2B manufacturers.

Our clients sell within complex, technical environments and we help them take a more targeted, account-focused approach to drive revenue growth within niche markets.


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