The case for long-term thinking has been building since Les Binet and Peter Field’s highly influential IPA report, ‘The Long and the Short of It’. They showed that long-term strategies are more effective at moving the dials that really matter – market share, profit, revenue and so on.
Binet and Field’s evidence is largely based on business-to-consumer (B2C) examples. But a new survey of 600 business-to-business (B2B) marketers reinforces the findings. Those who have outperformed their competition over the last two years are twice as likely to think long-term.
The gap between knowing and doing
The business needs quick results. But it takes time to create lasting business impact.
When I talk to senior marketers today, this tension is right at the surface. There’s a curious gap between what we believe and what we can put into action.
Our new research conducted with Marketing Week shows that, in intent at least, the majority of B2B marketers are still ‘classicists’. When asked for the main drivers of effectiveness, audience targeting is comfortably marketers’ highest rated factor, followed by value proposition, then creative. We still believe, then, in the classic skills of segmenting, targeting and positioning.
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.
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.
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 no small feat to be a successful B2B digital marketer in today’s complex, ever-changing environment. In this article, I offer several proven recommendations related to the domination of search engine results pages (SERPs), testing, attribution and ROI.
Utilize these tips to jump-start your search results in the new year and start 2017 with a bang.
New year, new opportunities
2016 was a year of incredible change. Google changed the SERP game by shifting visibility to paid advertising, while also changing the core organic algorithm to natively include Panda and RankBrain.
Search engine marketing isn’t getting any easier. Top it off with the rapid expansion of marketing technologies, system integrations, and now account-based marketing, and we’ve got an uphill battle.
As you look for opportunities to improve your 2017 results, these five tips offer big wins:
1. Ensure SERP domination.
2. Maximize conversions via testing.
3. Capitalize on attribution insights.
4. Integrate with the sales funnel.
5.Understand total ROI with call tracking.
1. Ensure SERP domination.
Owning the SERP for high-priority search queries (keywords) builds brand recognition, credibility and trust with your target audience. Aligning paid and organic search provides insights into customer behavior you wouldn’t have in a siloed approach. Develop a cross-channel strategy that educates, builds trust and moves prospects through the funnel faster.
Test different messaging in your paid ads for target keywords, and start to understand the visitor intent behind the query. When writing your organic listings, make sure you follow the new rules for how your listings will display in the Google SERP to ensure your message doesn’t get cut off.
Look to your paid search queries for insight into what terms are driving real business results, including phone calls, content engagement and conversions. Identify search terms that are bringing top-of-funnel visitors to your website, and write organic content that aligns with the intent behind the query. To maximize results from organic search, you simply must incorporate the data and insights from a well-managed paid search campaign.
In the screen shot below, QuickBooks is demonstrating SERP domination and integrated messaging across their organic listing, paid ad and product listing ad.
As a senior marketing executive, you likely spend your day juggling an ever-changing list of priorities. When it is time to create your annual budget, you may view the task as an annoyance rather than an opportunity. However, the act of creating your budget gives you the chance to review what you have done, consider what you want to accomplish during the coming months and create a map that can help you achieve your goals. Unless you avoid the most common marketing budget pitfalls, though, you could find that your budgeted funds fail to generate the results that you want. Here is a list of the 10 most common errors that occur when planning a marketing budget.
Not Having A Solid Marketing Plan
Successful marketing requires money, but it also requires a great deal of preparation. Without a solid marketing plan, you are not prepared to make decisions that ensure that you are spending your budgeted funds appropriately, wisely and effectively. A strong plan will include at least the following:
In-depth knowledge of your target market
Your competitive position within your target market
Your strategies and tactics
Your plan to differentiate yourself from competitors
Your KPIs to measure success
Once you have a solid marketing plan, your budget is easier to prepare, becoming something of a supporting document for the execution of your plan.
Not Engaging Business Partners
Marketing teams sometimes forget that they exist for a purpose: to help the company achieve its business goals. Achieving the marketing goals can be meaningless if they are not aligned with the company’s goals. Every marketing budget should be designed to support the company’s business goals. Otherwise, marketers can find themselves scrambling to shift priorities and objectives without having sufficient funds remaining in the budget. This means that marketing executives must communicate with other executives and leaders to gain a thorough understanding of the overall objectives and strategy. Engaging with business partners also gives marketers the opportunity to enlist support for marketing efforts. For example, marketing automation relies heavily on database quality, but marketers typically have little control over collecting, maintaining and scrubbing the data.
Relying Too Much On Historical Budgets
Last year’s budget can be an excellent starting point for creating the marketing budget for next year, but it is only a starting point. Even if all goals were met and the allocation of funds proved accurate, there is no guarantee that the same formula will work next year. Technology is evolving rapidly, your competitors are making changes and your customers are expecting more from you. You have to base your new budget on what you want to accomplish rather than what you accomplished in previous years.
Getting Too Detailed
Marketers sometimes “paint themselves into a corner” by being too specific when preparing a budget. To illustrate, suppose you learn in December that a new software called DuzItAll is scheduled to be released in six months. The product sounds as if it would be perfect for automating all of your marketing efforts, but it carries a substantial price tag. You create a line item in your budget devoted to the purchase of DuzItAll. However, the software is never released because the company folds. You now have to reallocate the funds, which may require obtaining approval from the CEO or CFO. Avoid complications by ensuring that your budget categories are vague enough to give you a little room to maneuver.
When you want to launch a marketing campaign, it can be hard to be patient. The sooner you launch, the sooner you can see those leads start coming in! Right?
Well, yes… And no.
Sure the sooner you launch, the sooner you might see a few leads trickle in, but if you really want to knock your campaign out of the park, here are 10 things you must do before launching your campaign.
1) Get clear on your brand.
Before you begin any marketing campaign, you must be incredibly clear on who you are and why you do what you do. Your brand is the core of your company and if you cannot communicate this clearly internally amongst yourselves, your hopes of running a successful marketing campaign that is consistent with your brand values is slim.
2) Get clear on your customer.
We can’t always get what we want, but that doesn’t mean knowing what we ideally want isn’t important. In fact, it’s critical. So make sure to know your target customer in detail, from demographic information to behavioral patterns and who their influencers are.
We recommend completing an ICP (ideal customer profile) for this step. There are plenty of ICP templates available online to get you started if you need help.
Warning: After you’ve gone through steps one and two once, you may not feel the need to revisit them for the next marketing campaign…but beware of skipping these. You should check in to make sure that the campaign that you are considering launching is consistent with your brand and your target audience before moving forward every time.
3) Develop a clear message.
What you are selling and how it helps your target customers might be clear as crystal to you…and you might be right. But unless you can communicate this in an incredibly clear and simple way to your customers, your campaign won’t succeed.
Focus your message on your value to your customers, how you solve a major pain point for them, how you make their lives easier…not specifics of your product or service itself. Those details come into play further down the funnel, once a potential lead is on the hook.
Also, make sure to create a few variations that you can test against each other in your campaign. No one is always right, so rather than choosing the single marketing message that you believe will resonate best, try a few and let your customers tell you through split testing which is the most effective.
With over 20 years of business, sales, and consulting experience SMS is capable of serving many market sectors. We provide the field level support needed to generate results and grow your business. Other companies may provide appointment setting services; whereas SMS will partner with you to grow revenue.
Before I started researching the content for this article, I thought that email was going to be a critical channel for B2B content marketing. But what I found wasn’t exactly what I had anticipated. ...
Targeted Strategy SMS business development focuses on high quality prospects to grow revenue, increase earnings, and build your customer base. Lead nurturing SMS implements multifaceted campaigns that...
Inbound marketing has been a great way for you to generate leads and gain customers in order to make your numbers. First, you need to get your brand out there. If no one knows about your brand, how ar...