Peter F. Drucker once said "The aim of marketing is to get customers to know, like, and trust you." The principle remains the same for B2B companies, although they must win over entire corporations rather than individuals with their marketing campaigns. This unique situation brings with it the following marketing challenges.
B2B Marketing Must Engage Potential Buyers
Creating engaging content has been cited as the greatest challenge for B2B enterprise firms and a significant challenge for smaller organizations. This should come as no surprise because it's a challenge faced by marketers across all industries. However, studies suggest B2B buyers have become an increasingly empowered lot who must be engaged to buy.
Ninety percent of B2B purchasers say they don't even want you to market to them. Instead, they claim that when they're ready to buy, they'll find you. That doesn't mean B2B firms should sit back and wait for enquiries to come though. Instead, they must engage potential buyers to ensure they're the company in the front of potential buyers' minds.
Good B2B Marketing Can Be Expensive
In 2013, Content Marketing Institute asked leading B2B marketers about the greatest challenges they faced creating high-impact marketing content. The most popular response was that the task took too much time, followed by a belief that creating such content is too labor intensive. Both these complaints point to one thing: creating good B2B marketing is expensive. With content assets typically taking five weeks to produce and demanding the attention of various staff members over the duration, it's easy to see why B2B marketers feel this way.
Adding to this problem is the belief of 93 percent of marketing leaders think that a lack of return on investment makes it difficult to justify future investment. According to the 2013 B2B Leaders report, an additional 24 percent say a lack of return on investment makes it difficult to choose future activity focuses. Do you persevere with expensive marketing campaigns that could potentially fall flat, or redirect funds into business energy rates and telephone bills? This strategy makes sense in the short term, but could result in less compelling marketing campaigns that don't generate the revenue needed to sustain the B2B firm.
Cultural Conflicts Impact Marketing Vision
B2B companies that blog regularly generate 67 percent more leads than their non-blogging competitors. Active participation on Twitter has also been shown to generate twice as many leads for B2B companies. But despite these compelling statistics, participants at the Digital Cream event in London last year said many B2B managers aren't keeping pace with the technology.
"B2B senior business managers tend to be older and more traditionally minded, conservative, and set in their ways," explained one of the event's participants. "They have grown up throughout their successful careers with specialist trade magazines, brochures, direct mail, exhibitions, and the sales force making courtesy calls."
This gap between the company's tech-savvy innovators and senior staff members can make delivering marketing solutions that work in the digital age difficult.
B2B Marketing and Sales Must Work Together
A B2B's marketing team doesn't exist in a bubble. While it's easy to become wrapped up in the creativity and content required for a successful marketing campaign, it's important to remember its purpose is to drive sales. Despite this, just 40 percent of B2B companies believe their marketing methods meet the needs of their sales force. The challenge is for marketing and sales departments to work together.
About 34 percent of companies address this by following a traditional model, where marketing employees support the sales team. However, research by business strategy agency Sparks Grove suggests that a more equal arrangement gets the best results.
"For some, it's easy to get caught up in the illusion of stability and merely dabbling in change, which is often a false partnership," Sparks Grove vice president Rob Sherrell cautioned. "Those that talk the talk and walk the walk with the evolution of their marketing function will see long-term success."
Creating such a partnership can be a real challenge for B2B firms, but studies show this is the best business model for success.
Marketing isn't easy for B2B companies, but being aware of the challenges can help your team develop the best solutions.
Author Bio: JT Ripton is a freelance business, marketing and technology writer who occasionally writes for internetserviceproviders.com/search-results.html and you can follow him on Twitter @JTRipton.
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