If you are sci-fi film buff, Charlton Heston’s desperate plea, “Soylent Green is people!” from the classic movie (it’s dark, overwrought and partially in fun) is something today’s marketers should note. Your return on investment is dependent on people because people are essential to the modern B2B marketing strategy that actually drives real ROI.
I’m launching this thread because of a combination of client observations, conversations I’ve been having with rising stars, developments in AI and recent announcements from certain tech companies regarding their own learnings about marketing’s impact on earnings and business health. It’s become clear to me that personnel challenges remain a basic, stubborn impediment still keeping many companies from making substantive, scalable marketing progress. There are two core elements at issue:
Just as they have been with most things digital, B2C marketers are ahead of their B2B counterparts in adopting the latest social marketing trends. While our B2C friends have been leveraging social media stories since they originated on Snapchat several years ago, it’s taking the B2B world a little longer to figure out where they fit in the digital marketing mix.
Why should B2B Marketers Care?
Social stories are the newest way social platforms are trying to engage their users- and they’re working. Research shows that social media stories are growing at a faster pace than newsfeeds and offer a new way for marketers to advertise. As businesses try to personalize their brands, marketing via social channels is more important than ever. The new story formats allow the brand message to be told in a logical, linear pattern, rather than having it split across newsfeeds.
The Internet has certainly upended B2B marketing. Keep in mind that – when a customer visits your site or reaches out to you – he or she has probably done quite a bit of research. In other words, you need to find ways to become top-of-mind.
Yet marketing can be expensive – and far from perfect. The fact is that there is much noise in the market, which makes it tough to stand out.
Then what are some of the approaches to take to boost the results of your B2B marketing – especially when you do not have large amounts of resources? Well, to get help answering this question, I reached out to Shachar Radin-Shomrat, who is the Chief Commercial Officer at Voxbone. The company is a leading Communications as a Service (CaaS) provider of voice/messaging services and some of its customers include Zoom, Skype, BlueJeans and 8×8.
“When marketing on a budget, it is usually best to adopt a growth-hacking mindset,” said Shachar. “At Voxbone, we try to be adventurous to a degree but prepare to fail fast and correct course quickly. We are using data where we can to support our decision-making, but it’s often good old-fashioned creativity that makes the biggest difference.”
Interestingly enough, it’s a good idea to not even think and behave like a B2B brand. Instead, it’s better to approach things through the lens of a B2C brand. This will mean that you will be putting the experience of your potential clients front-and-center. Let’s face it, you are not dealing with a company; rather, it’s a person that will ultimately make the purchase decision. So emotion should be an important part of the messaging.
Now in terms of low-cost approaches, Shachar is a bit unconventional. She actually recommends looking at traditional channels. For example, out-of-home advertising (OOH) can be quite effective, such as remnant inventory for digital billboards. “In Voxbone’s case, we used OOH advertising to increase brand awareness among our prospects and the talent we are recruiting, as well as increasing brand searches and website traffic,” said Shachar.
While business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing has embraced the power of data, business-to-business (B2B) marketing has been surprisingly slow to catch on. Companies that want to compete in the B2B marketplace need to be as sophisticated as their B2C cousins by using data to accurately target and market to potential customers.
Believe it or not, an online shoe retailer uses far more advanced data-based marketing tools to sell a $50 pair of shoes than a major SaaS provider selling software that costs thousands of dollars per month. Using sophisticated data sources and data management platforms (DMPs), a shoe seller can track the last pair of shoes you looked at on your desktop and show you an ad for the same shoes on your mobile Facebook feed.
Unlike the automated B2C sales approach, B2B sellers often rely on simple and generic workflows like sending an email followed by a cold call from a sales rep. Of course, you can argue that there’s something to be said for the human touch, even if it is a cold call, but this tactic is expensive, time-consuming and doesn’t produce results.
Business-to-business (B2B) companies face unique challenges when it comes to sales and marketing, and it can be even more difficult for industries that have long lead times. For example, take the architecture, engineering and construction industry: The sales cycle can be anywhere from six months to a year (or more) and deals are worth millions of dollars. A lot is at stake and time is of the essence.
What role does a marketing department have in closing these high-value deals? How do you target those niche prospects? How can you set yourself apart in an industry where purchasing decisions are so often based upon the bottom line?
At my company, the key has been producing helpful, educational content tailored to our prospective clients’ needs, questions and pain points. But what exactly can quality content do to grow your business?
After last week’s Cannes Lions festival, you can bet that the next big thing is on every forward-thinking marketer’s mind. In the era of big data, artificial intelligence and rapid innovation, change is the only constant. While marketing has without a doubt gone digital, we are simultaneously seeing a revival in human-centric thinking — a shift toward catering to individuals with deeper empathy and care, though now at scale.
This evolution is especially pronounced in the business-to-business (B2B) industry. B2B technology has a reputation for being hard to use, and B2B branding efforts haven’t helped in changing this perception. However, in the past few years, a movement to democratize enterprise technology — and enterprise brands themselves — for the day-to-day consumer has emerged. In other words, consumer-grade enterprise tech is quickly becoming the norm.
Did you know that 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others?
Not long ago, businesses would focus on newspapers and advertising through print. They still do, but clearly, digital media has taken over a major share of the branding budget in 2018. Now with smartphones and social media technology, businesses prefer to surf the tide of customer service using new-age marketing technologies. Social Media Marketing clearly demonstrates how technology amplifies brand messaging and meets new benchmarks in customer service benchmarks.
B2B marketing insights incorporated in social media are effective methods for traffic generation, interactive engagement and brand association.
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a trending topic in B2B marketing, building in popularity over the past few years. In 2016, more than 70 percent of B2B companies had staff dedicated to ABM programs, compared to just 20 percent the previous year, according to a study by SiriusDecisions. In 2017, B2B marketers are looking to refine their approach, leverage new tools, and better focus their investment on critical key accounts.
The concept of ABM hinges on the convergence of Sales and Marketing — two historically divided sectors — working together to define key accounts and develop campaigns designed to engage target prospects. A successful ABM program involves building brand awareness, engaging target prospects and growing customer accounts, all in a highly targeted fashion.
Sales & marketing success metrics
With ABM programs, Sales and Marketing share goals, create cross-departmental assets, and execute against a unified strategy. Companies that already have a strong alignment between Sales and Marketing have an advantage when implementing successful ABM programs.
ABM programs often instigate a shift in B2B marketing KPIs, away from traditional lead generation metrics (such as lead volume, marketing qualified leads and cost) toward engagement-focused metrics (such as content engagement, contact with target prospects, meetings, sales opportunities and closed deals), which align closely with Sales success measurements.
List segmentation and content alignment
An essential element of ABM campaigns is list segmentation and content alignment. Once a target account list has been determined, it should be segmented to strategically deliver the most appropriate content and messaging to the right person at the right time. Common ways that B2B lists are segmented include:
The top B2B marketing trends for 2017 reflect much of what B2C marketers are experiencing: B2B buyers deserve the same individual, humanized attention consumers desire from retailer or CPG brand.
But with a lack of time and resources to give all industry buyers this attention, getting smart about who you focus on will be more important than ever. Here’s three of the top B2B marketing trends you need to watch this year:
True ABM adoption will skyrocket.
Account-based marketing (ABM) was touted as an effective marketing approach for B2B companies throughout 2016, so everyone must already be doing it, right?
Not quite, but the momentum is there. According to the 2016 State of Account Based Marketing Study from SiriusDecisions, 42% of survey respondents said they had been using ABM for less than six months.
ABM is the practice of growing business by tailoring your marketing and sales efforts to specific accounts that are going to make the biggest impact. This requires marketing and sales team alignment to get more personalized with their marketing efforts and nurture long-term, high-value relationships with their clients or prospect clients. This can be difficult to achieve in practice. Sales teams are traditionally focused on bringing a high quantity of leads to the table, which leaves little room for creating quality engagement.
But once alignment is achieved, ABM can prove to be extremely fruitful. There is just no substitution for knowing your target client inside and out and providing personalized answers to the needs you know they have.
In the B2B space, spreading the world broadly simply isn’t going to move the needle, especially when content is growing at an exponential rate and the war for attention is more challenging than ever
More B2B marketers will turn to consumer marketing for inspiration.
B2B marketers have long had the tendency to market to entire departments, forgetting that their target buyer is no different than a consumer in that he or she is, well, human.
But some B2B companies are bucking the trend. For example, Tetra Pak, the maker of food packaging and cartons, recently took a page out of the consumer marketing book to show off their new packaging. They sent mailers to brand managers with details on how their customers will appreciate the new carton designs. The mailers were not about sharing specs or efficiencies of the new packaging—they offered an experience that put the brand managers in the consumer seat, which in turn demonstrated Tetra Pak’s broad expertise in marketing and product formulation.
As Tetra Pak did with these mailers, I expect more B2B marketers to focus on creating experiences that address specific challenges of their buyers in recognition that they are human and that those experiences can drive better engagement
It’s 2017, and every CMO is promising their CEO mountains of Glengarry leads for their sales organization to close. We’re not talking about normal, old Glengarry leads, we’re talking crème de la crème leads … the elusive C-suite leads that every marketer this side of Mars is longing for. Sound about right? Anything wrong with this picture? I see you nodding your head yes (well done). Everything is wrong with this picture.
The complexity of the b-to-b sale and its continued fragmentation has been documented ad nauseam over the past decade. Yet one thing continues: a complete and utter disregard from senior corporate and senior marketing leadership to accept the harsh reality that a marketing strategy solely focused on reaching into the C-suite will not yield success.
The marketing prophets are wrong
I get it! I’ve been on the calls, I’ve read the emails, and I’ve been in the meetings. So-called marketing ninja’s, strategic consultants, multi-exit pedigreed CMO’s, self-described visionaries, or, wait for it, a marketing prophet enters the fray and belts out the following gem:
“I’ve peeled back the layers of the onion and would like to empower you all with a recommendation I’ve been noodling on. When push comes to shove, I think we need to isolate one throat to choke in our key accounts and move the needle — yesterday. So let’s just cut the crap and sell directly to the final decision maker! It’s a slam-dunk right?! We can’t boil the ocean. Let’s collectively recognize what I’m presenting is a massive paradigm shift, but I’m thinking outside the box people. I have limited bandwidth over the coming quarter but let’s circle back and admire our success. You’re welcome.”
Everyone in the room is pale, silent, knows better, but doesn’t dare challenge the almighty one who just threw-up a massive pile of nonsense onto the conference room table with such basic and disconnected thinking. It’s destined to fail. And this is why:
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Just as they have been with most things digital, B2C marketers are ahead of their B2B counterparts in adopting the latest social marketing trends. While our B2C friends have been leveraging social med...