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Just imagine: You’re traveling through another dimension — a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mindful B2B marketing practices ...

There are two things that keep me up at night: the future of B2B marketing and the fundamental nature of reality itself. I guess this is what happens when you listen to podcasts about black holes all night before a workday in the advertising business.

Here are a few concepts about quantum mechanics that won’t just blow your mind; they might just improve your next marketing plan as well.

The Observer Effect

The quantum realm is one that deals with the tiniest of tiny things: the building blocks that make up you, me, the ocean, the stars, or even an entire galaxy. Among the tiniest of known things to exist is the electron — so tiny in fact that most physicists argue an electron has no size. As such, electrons are often described more like waves, at least in their unobserved state.

How can you even measure something like that? Well, first you have to look at it. Looking at something requires light. Light itself is made of tiny particles called photons. When the photons from your light clash with your electron, the electron stops acting like a wave and instead acts more like a run-of-the-mill point particle. Once you stop looking at it, it acts like a wave again. Simply put, watching the electron fundamentally changes its behavior.

In B2B marketing, we want to measure what our audiences are doing on our websites, but we don’t want to tick them off either. Unfortunately, as our tracking technology strengthens, trust erodes — especially with today’s increasing demands for greater privacy online.

Consider your own browsing habits. How many times have you bounced from a webpage because you just couldn’t stomach reading another pop-up privacy agreement? How many times have you received an unrelenting attack of retargeting ads after visiting an online store of some sort? Indeed, most of us are painfully aware that we’re being watched, and it changes how we behave as a result. This is rarely in favor of the brand that’s doing the watching.

As B2B marketers, we need to build trust, not just a taller tech stack. That won’t be accomplished merely by watching our customers. We have to actively work to understand the problems they face every day while making the case that we can help to solve those problems. You shouldn’t force your content in front of your customers by exploiting their cookies or occupying every banner space they see; you should get them to opt in voluntarily to hear from you. Building that trust not only earns you their line of sight, but it can also earn their business.

Quantum Entanglement

Albert Einstein (you may have heard of him) famously called this phenomenon “spooky”. He wasn’t wrong.

Remember when we talked about how electrons function more like waves when they’re not being watched? This means one electron (let’s call him “Bob”) is spinning in all directions simultaneously. Once you shine a light on Bob, he suddenly acts more like a particle, and will then be found spinning in one particular direction. Let’s say he’s spinning clockwise.

Quantum entanglement occurs when Bob becomes inextricably linked with another electron (let’s call her “Shelly”). Bob and Shelly can be separated by trillions of miles. But once you measure Bob spinning clockwise, Shelly will be found spinning counterclockwise 100% of the time. As if that’s not weird enough, this happens instantaneously; the transfer of information regarding Bob’s spin reaches Shelly even faster than the speed of light could. Super spooky, for reals.

Our branding efforts could take a lesson from Bob and Shelly. It can be tempting to think of your messaging differently depending on where your message is being broadcasted, whether that’s on a Facebook post, a display ad, an email, etc. Each of these items, no matter how small, should act as an entangled particle of your whole brand. Your core message shouldn’t change just because of medium.

Much like an electron in an unobserved state, your brand exists everywhere in all directions at once. Everything you put out into the world, even if it’s a seemingly innocuous tweet, should represent your brand in the most reputable light possible. Anything you do in one place can instantly change how you are perceived everywhere else. Make sure that perception changes for the better.

String Theory

Turns out, the math you use to measure really big things like galaxies (Einstein’s Theory of Relativity) won’t work when you’re measuring quantum (teeny-tiny) objects. Same goes for vice versa. A big part of this is due to how gravity is hugely powerful at the astronomical level but surprisingly weak at the quantum level due to the lack of mass that gravity depends on. Further, of the four known forces of nature (including electromagnetism and the strong and weak forces), gravity is the only one with no fundamental particle associated with it (that we know of).

This is where string theorists come in. If they’re right, it would mean there is indeed a gravity particle, the “graviton”. This graviton floats around freely not only among the three dimensions we observe in our day-to-day lives (up and down, left and right, and back and forth), but it’s further diluted among eight other dimensions we’ve yet to detect.

In the grandest B2B scales, we have brand awareness and broader-based targeting (relativity). Conversely, we have micro-targeted lead generation or account-based marketing (ABM) strategies (quantum). The tactics at one scale rarely make sense when applied to the other. And yet, we strongly suspect that the strength of a brand is directly linked to our ability to drive leads and sales. Quantifying that strength or determining how it directly influences buying behavior is far from an exact science, however.

Perhaps one day, we’ll discover the B2B graviton, the metric that unlocks the strongest-performing campaigns the universe has ever seen. Personally? I wouldn’t bet on it. People are complex, emotional creatures, and what one person values in a brand could look totally different to someone else. I don’t know how realistic it is that we’ll ever be able to pinpoint all the variables that make humans behave like … well, humans. Not with any degree of mathematical certainty, anyhow.

In the absence of such hard data, we should be open to hearing what our customers care about, even if it’s only anecdotal. This can be accomplished with something as sophisticated as a focus group or something as simple as a friendly telephonic chat with a valued client. We need to be open to their feedback — both the good and bad — and adapt to it regularly. We also need to appreciate the emotional behaviors that drive their decision making. This may not be an exact science, but it can certainly help you to find a healthy balance between promoting awareness and driving sales.

A Few Parting Thoughts on Objectivity

There’s a big debate among physicists and philosophers alike regarding whether or not there is a single “objective reality” — some ironclad state that everything is in at any given moment, regardless of how we perceive it on an individual level. This isn’t surprising, considering how counterintuitively the basic building blocks of existence behave.

Regardless of what side you might take in that debate, we need to be careful to base our decisions on what we know, not what we think we know. We should strive to ensure our subjective biases aren’t getting in the way of our campaigns. This is also true when analyzing our performance data. No numbers you assess, even those acquired from the strictest A/B tests, are pulled out of a vacuum. There are incalculably more variables at play than those captured in your control groups. Take it all with a grain of salt.

Simply put, whatever “reality” actually is likely doesn’t look like what any of us thinks it does. Me? I say just roll with it. Do your best, try to have some fun, and look at things in a different light.

“It may be said with a degree of assurance that not everything that meets the eye is as it appears.” 
– Rod Serling, ‘The Twilight Zone’