When Apple first launched iPad, I never felt the need for yet another equipment for a road warrior. Why would anyone want to carry a smart phone, a laptop, an e-book reader and on top of that an iPad? But things changed dramatically for me, and today, iPad is inseparable for me.
Would this product change the behaviour of marketers all over the world? Will it find application in marketers’ arsenal of gizmos? I can most definitely say yes. I already see restaurants using iPad instead of a printed menu. Sales people making presentations using it. People of all types making notes on it. And young medical students using it for studies.
It may still be early for many B2B marketers to embrace it fully, but at the top of the value chain changes are happening. A couple of my CEO clients use applications from Mind maps to CRM and BSC on iPad. The other question B2B marketers need to find answer, is the number of people using iPads in their buying space and how they use it: Is it for productivity reasons, style or playing games and checking mails? Knowing the answers to these questions will help them plan for changes to their business and marketing models.
Real-world applications of the iPad for B2B marketers may positively impact marketers in many ways:
The iPad can very well become a useful tool as a real-time portfolio of marketing and collateral materials as well as product demos. The convenient design, size and wonderful retina display features will allow marketers to present their products and services to clients in an easy manner. Sales executives can use the device to demonstrate data in real-time. Imagine having all your marketing collateral and presentations ready to go in an instant anywhere you need to present. We all have experienced the delay when a sales person causes while setting up his laptop and presentation. That frustrating small talk is a real waste of time and I think one of the biggest advantages for sales folks is the removal of this sore note from their meetings. If you recall, flipcharts were very good to connect one on one with a prospect but with iPad you can create amazing high-level value proposition. The other major advantage for sales and marketing folks is the ease with which they can connect to internet using a 3G or 4G network and access all files from iCloud. You do not have to carry around anything at all.
Today all my consultants have an iPad. We use it to have video calls internally and with clients. Many things could be discussed and covered with FaceTime application. We have avoided some international travel just by using iPad.
Software as a service (SAAS) providers can penetrate the market even further with applications in iPad. While a pocket internet connector and laptop may well work for presentations and accessibility, the ease is far better in an iPad. The game changer is the interface that will drive software development. New software and other innovations will be created to support the iPad.
Data capture for CRM will be a cakewalk with iPad. Slowly you will find sales folks at trade shows and exhibitions capturing visitor data on iPad instantly and then mail out to corporate HO and to relevant teams for action. The iPad will also extend the usability of existing CRM and Automation. Tradeshows are an ideal use case, but it will also enable better e-mail marketing. This will take some work, but the experience with content will enhance the user experience manifold.
Without doubt, the tradeshow experience will improve by giving everyone in the booth an iPad and trained to capture leads. You can do instant survey and the data can be migrated to your CRM platform and analysed for instant change in plans and interaction. The integration of offline and online experience offered by the iPad will be very valuable to marketers at offline events like seminars. If you are carrying an iPad to an event, you can easily do a live demo if the situation demands so. The integrated experience can be much greater than either alone.
The biggest winner is the consumer whose user experience is enhanced like never before. Consumers are now expecting much improved content from marketers. More multimedia content will flood the space soon. Marketers from the business-to-business industry will have to pay real attention to the quality of the online content as well as the way prospects use it. Research papers, product and service information and presentations should all be made with an eye on digital experience.
Some skeptics believe things will not change much with the advent of iPad and they say it is just another device for show off. Lead generation comes from interesting content, with a persuasive call to action, and whether this is delivered on an iPad, iPhone, Google App, TV or old-fashioned newspaper is largely irrelevant is what they say. zz
(M Muneer is the CEO
and MD of CustomerLab)