For the last few decades, the difference between B2B and B2C marketing has often been the point of much heated debate, with B2B marketing often being pigeon-holed as being the poor cousin of its sexier sibling. Marketing Directors looked after the agency relationships, Marketing Managers ran the advertising, Brand Managers helped them in this, whilst also running the research, product development and below-the-line sales promotion. And then there was trade marketing. Few agencies, little budgets and no shiny award ceremonies.
So why is B2B always depicted as the inferior, marginally annoying distant cousin to B2C? Why does it feel like the unskilled sidekick to the main event? The Bing to the Google... The Robin to the Batman... The Noel to the Liam Gallagher?
In many multi-channel businesses, the B2B channel is often huge, accounting for well over 75% of the bottom line revenue. Yet little creative and marketing budget has traditionally been allocated to this important channel. Maybe because in the old days, it was thought that the beers and brolleys strategy managed this just fine – personal relationships at Sales Manager levels created in the bar or on the golf course was how sales were done. No need for any of the fluffy marketing stuff.
Fast forward to 2018 and change is most certainly in the air. Did you know that over 65% of a B2B purchasing decision making process is carried out before a Sales Manager is even seen or contacted. Exhibitions and conferences are being increasingly replaced by the wonders of the web – much easier to sit at your desk and research possible suppliers than having to deal with sales reps, and of course procurement love the reduction in travel and entertainment.
So, B2B focussed companies are now looking to see how they can improve their marketing by learning from their B2C cousins and how they are able to ensure that customers can receive the level of personal service they used to get via the digital channels. No longer are B2B websites the graveyards of online brochureware and a telephone number. Personalised experiences, improved UX and Customer Centric Journeys, automated marketing, chatbots and livetalk, social media and remarketing are all being implemented by the good to make sure that customers can find out what they need when they want to.
But it shouldn’t stop there. The other lessons of authenticity and credibility are just as key, creating points of difference and engagement factors that are being perfected in B2C and now making the difference in B2B.
At Positive, we don’t believe the stereotype of traditional B2B marketing has to be subscribed to anymore. The following simple steps offer an introduction to a sure fire way to appeal to a larger target market, whilst also focussing on personal and emotionally--triggering content so often associated with B2C.
The most important things to remember are this: as a B2B marketer, you’re marketing to people and they’re in the know. When you think about it, it doesn’t make all that much sense to infuse B2C mass-marketing strategies with humanness whilst entirely ignoring it in B2B marketing. Given the extended negotiations and deal-making the latter often lends itself to, it only makes sense to develop your marketing smartly and around creating sustained relationships.
1. Your website is no longer just a brochure for your services – it needs to convert
B2B marketers have long been proud of their relationship--building skills and ability to charm prospective buyers over the phone or F2F, closing out deals over an extended period of time. If ‘relationship building’, ‘charming’ and ‘closing a deal’ all sound familiar to you, you may be a casual/regular (hey, who’s judging?) user of Tinder, which -- bear with us -- is not a terrible metaphor for a brochure website.
Like Tinder, the reason you get a call inquiring about services in the first place will be due to your website being immersive and engaging. It’s your online business card and should help sell your company’s amenities as this stat from Nectafy demonstrates.
“88% of people make their first port of call your website before inquiring within”
Just like on Tinder, your future partner is not going to inquire within to find more about you and your personality if your show reel features uninspiring, outdated pictures, no real demonstration of what you offer or the ‘personality’ of the business you offer. Unless you’re doing all you can to ensure businesses ‘swipe right’ on your website, you’ll never likely get that reply.
2. Content marketing needs to tell your brand’s story
You don’t need to be Roald Dahl or George R.R. Martin to tell a compelling story. You just need to be relatable and able to make a powerful connection with you reader. (A magical chocolate factory or a couple of fire breathing dragons don’t hurt, though.)
Old heads at most agencies may have always maintained that storytelling in all areas of marketing is the way that one can cut through all the noise and clutter and build long term, lasting relationships, and we’ve seen this in B2C since TV advertising hit our screens. But we now know, undoubtedly, that storytelling is a hugely successful tool in B2B to captivate your users and driving conversions.
Building and sharing your brand’s story onsite and in social media helps reinforce your key messages and the things that you stand for. Using platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to really showcase your company’s human side will leverage you against your competitor-- because ultimately, people invest in people.
3. Marketers need to use data more effectively to inform strategy
With big data, comes big responsibility. According to LoginRadius, “The good B2B marketers are leaders in data driven marketing, and those that use analytics and data in marketing effectively have shown productivity and profitability rates that are 5% to 6% higher than those of their peers who don’t use data.”
This is a huge deal and not enough companies are jumping on this very lucrative bandwagon. Turning data into knowledge can help uncover trends in certain demographics and locations, as well as enable you to understand why some pieces of content are performing better than others. I mean think about it, the most basic example we can provide is that we use data to find out how many of you click through to read this newsletter!
In B2B marketing, data--driven strategies to get your foot through the door can be as simple as personalising an automated email to avoid generic greetings to your new pair of eyes, to using Account Based Marketing strategies and deliveries on LinkedIn. Following up site visits and initial fact finds with variant retargeting via other channels is just another of many other ways data can be a lot sexier than it sounds.
So, if we’ve engaged you this far and you want more, because there is a lot more strategy and just as importantly delivery, then just give us a call or your email and we’ll take you on the final 35% of your purchase journey…..