As the old expression goes, information is power. Due to the rise of the Internet and social media, the sources of information for customers and prospects facing a major purchase decision has skyrocketed in recent years. Many have dubbed this the age of the empowered customer, and it changes dramatically how B2B companies need to market their products and services.

A recent article in Chief Marketer lays out some challenges this new age presents for B2B companies. Of course numerous legacy marketing challenges remain – brand awareness, product launches, alignment with sales, lead generation, internal and external communications and marketing asset management.

Increasingly today, newer challenges are emerging relating to evolving digital technologies, online data analytics and marketing automation. The CMO is becoming a full technologist at many companies, and is owning the technology roadmap along with the CIO. He or she has to, because its critical to deliver contextualized content powered by marketing automation.

When dealing with the empowered customer, companies have to provide exactly the right kind of information at exactly the right time. The Chief Marketer article calls this the “zero moment:”

Marketers therefore must expand their skill sets beyond campaign creation and management to include analytical and technical skills that make marketing more effective at the ‘zero moment.’ These skills include generating insights from analyzing structured and unstructured data and engaging consumers through multiple channels and platforms. The shift in the ‘zero moment’ has occurred and companies that don’t make the transition through the implementation of adaptive technologies and a friendlier user experience for customers risk obsolescence.”

Marketing today is involves building relationships with prospects and customers so that when the zero moment arrives, the prospect thinks of your company and brand. Video helps companies adopt such customer-centric initiatives. Whether face-to-face, streaming or on-demand, video can create a powerful connection before the zero moment arrives. Companies are embedding video into each customer touch point and brand experience.

Taking such an integrated approached to marketing isn’t possible if corporate functions – sales, operations, marketing – are operating in silos with their own objectives and budgets. Video can break down these interior walls as well, by enabling enterprise-grade internal collaboration and getting all departments in-step and focused on meeting the needs of prospects and customers.

Some companies have been doing this in the past via pre-scheduled meetings from video endpoints in conference rooms. What’s new today is that this kind of collaboration can be real-time and on-demand, for example a marketing program manager meeting with a sales leader on the fly from his or her desktop or even mobile device.

Premium automobile manufacturer Lexus has adopted video technology to enhance the brand experience for highly discriminating prospects, while also serving as a tool to train staff to be ready for the empowered customer. Both customers and employees can watch on demand – streamed live or saved for a more convenient viewing time.

Discriminating customers can review and build exactly the vehicle and options package they desire, before ever visiting a dealership. And Lexus doesn’t need to invest in internal IT resources to offer the video. With hosted cloud solutions and a pay-as-you-go subscription service model, Lexus has realized cost savings even as it expands its user base. That’s another example of a new technology model that can make marketing more effective.

“Cloud-delivered subscription models for video are making streaming platforms accessible to a broader range of corporate users,” says Steve Vonder Haar, senior analyst at Wainhouse Research. “These offerings reduce the up-front cost, complexity, and time-to-benefit for rich media content creation.”

Saint Vincent Health System is a leading provider of healthcare services in the northeastern United States. Beginning in 2008, Saint Vincent rolled out a sophisticated telehealth network using Polycom RealPresence video solutions to connect healthcare professionals and patients across 26 facilities in Pennsylvania.

Saint Vincent’s innovative telehealth services include a bariatric wellness program to educate and treat obese patients, collaborative telestroke care, and virtual patient rounds conducted by multidisciplinary teams of specialists. Developing customer-centric initiatives such as this through visual communication strategies is what leads to marketing success today.

“Many patients who attend our educational sessions subsequently undergo bariatric surgery, and while surgery isn’t right for everyone, these procedures are generating enough revenue to help us treat far more patients in rural communities than we ever expected,” said Phillip Wolford, coordinator of regional telemedicine network at Saint Vincent’s. “In fact, our bariatric wellness program paid for itself within a matter of weeks.”

Does your marketing deliver what’s being demanded by the empowered customer? Check back here on WorkSpace Today for more success stories and best practices.