Marketing business products and services to other businesses used to be relatively simple. You developed a series of ads touting the features and benefits of your product or service, and you ran those ads in leading trade journals and exhibited at leading trade and association shows. This straightforward approach existed for well over 100 years until the Internet came along, irrevocably changing how marketers reach, engage and sell to business decision makers.
Today, B2B marketers have a dizzying array of brands, platforms, services and technologies being pitched to them, each touting to be more powerful than the next.
Our industry is also awash in data and analysis, fueling an endless number of silly debates like whether the average B2B purchase is 55%, 67% or more than 70% through before the buyer engages with a sales rep. Whether the average B2B buyer reads 11 or 12 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. Or whether there are 5.4 or 8.5 decision makers involved in the average B2B purchase decision. Here’s the reality; all data and analysis is directional. At best. Also bear in mind, analysts are selling you analysis.
It is easy for B2B marketers to get lost in data and analysis and have their marketing get stuck in incrementalism as a result. It’s important to understand the big trends, especially the major market transitions and how they impact your marketing. But don’t get caught up in the increasing avalanche of minutia around the lack of alignment between sales and marketing, or the buyers journey, whether content marketing works or the role of marketing automation. Focus instead on the big picture, and then match your tactics to your strategy.
Related Article: 6 B2B Marketing Tips to Stay Ahead in 2015
There are 4 key elements to success in business marketing today:
- Brand Engagement: Reaching and engaging your target audience.
- Demand Generation: Generating prospects as they are working through their purchase process
- Nurturing: Qualifying and nurturing prospects into customers
- Retention: Renewing and growing customers and developing customers as advocates
Engineering your marketing so that these critical steps work together is the key. To be successful in these four marketing disciplines you need several things:
All successful marketing today is fueled by high quality data. Preferably 1st party data. Your target audiences rely on digital brands they trust for knowledge and insights. As they do so they leave digital footprints that reflect their intentions around the purchase of related products and services. This data is invaluable in targeting your marketing as well as for use to fuel programmatic advertising.
TIP: Make sure that your advertising is running on high quality sites that can capture audience data and provide a more compelling experience and more targeted advertising. At Business.com, we built our own data platform to capture and analyze every visit, which allows us to tailor the experience for our audience as well as increase advertising performance by contextually integrating advertising. We have also added several data platforms and services into our platform, like Krux, 6Sense and BoomTrain to provide even more value from the ongoing 1st party data we gather on our audience of business decision makers.
It used to be that multi-channel referred to on and off line. Today successful marketing is about harnessing the power of multiple online advertising products, performing in a coordinated fashion, to drive performance. Brand engagement fuels successful demand generation and successful nurturing moves a prospect into a customer.
Advertising is dead. Long live content marketing. Do not waste another second debating or wondering about whether content marketing works. Invest that time and energy into getting it right.
Download our Whitepaper on Content Marketing strategy and tactics in order to navigate around the obstacles and learn how to maximize your content marketing ROI.
Related Article: Content Marketing Metrics: Write, Measure, Repeat
Regardless of what you’ve been told, significant business decision makers are brand conscious for the simple reason that their jobs are on the line.
Where and how your digital marketing reaches and engages business decision makers matters far more than you might imagine. Hammering prospects via lists, unbranded emails and content syndication networks is no longer an effective model. Where you advertise, how you advertise and how you follow up once prospects engage with your advertising all contribute to your prospects understanding of your brand and the value they place on it. If they don’t trust the source, your advertising or your follow up, they won’t trust your brand. There are two key things to focus on in developing brand trust:
Consistency and continuity are the hallmarks of a trusted brand. Erratic behaviors and disjointed experiences can indicate instability or a lack of focus that will scare away your audience.
TIP: Make sure your marketing materials share a common message, tone and esthetic. This unity of design will promote confidence and elevate your brand's perception.
Transparency is key for building relationships based on trust. If your audience doesn't get the whole story, they might assume the worst.
TIP: Quickly address mistakes or errors rather than attempting to cover them up. Treating your audience like good friends, showing respect will build a loyal following of brand advocates.
Know your buyer
Regularly analyzing customer data; renewal percentages, win/loss reports, top customers by region, category and price point, and defining clear KPI’s for customer success are important. It’s critical however to add a qualitative analysis on top of this data. Ask yourself:
- Who is your optimal customer?
- Which people within your target accounts influence the decision?
- What are their motivations?
- Are they aware of your brand?
- How does their purchase process work?
Yes developing “buyer persona’s” is a good idea. This isn’t some mystical art however. When in doubt go meet with your prospects and ask them about their company, themselves, how they make decisions and how they feel about your brand.
Stay focused on the big picture in your marketing strategy and don’t get distracted with the analysis paralysis that can result in your playing small ball. For more information on B2B marketing best practices, learn from our Market Experts at Business.com.