B2B marketing is not about selling. Shocking, right? After all, when you invest a significant amount of marketing dollars, you expect to see a return on investment. If you don’t, then all of your efforts have been wasted—or so the conventional wisdom might suggest.
Let’s think about a few facts.
- Lines between our personal and work lives are blurring. Mobility and the ever-increasing social channels in our work place ensure we are always connected, always “on”.
- Major buying decisions are in the hands of many and rarely focus on the individual. Yet each person on the buying team has unique needs—whether it’s initiating the product specs, signing off on the budget, approving the purchase, etc. We need to reach more people while at the same time focus on the individual needs.
- Ads alone are not enough. Buying decisions are complex and people need more than the standard print ad to make a decision.
The bottom line is this: people want and need information to make better and more informed decisions. And like traditional consumers, they will ignore you unless it is delivered at the right time and the right place.
Some call it selling, we call it empowering.
So, how do you make it happen? Here are a few best practices to keep in mind as you think about your B2B marketing strategy.
- Focus on a variety of channels. People want to move between devices seamlessly—whether they are at home in their pajamas or at work in a meeting. Mobility is not just for smartphones: it’s smart cars, wearables, and more. As marketers, we need to understand these work and home confluences and ensure that we are not just targeting audiences with one-dimensional advertising during a 9-5 workday. By making a variety of channels work together, we reinforce our brands and allow people to easily find the information they are seeking.
- Be concise with messaging. These days, people speak in less than 140 characters. Short bursts of frequent information are becoming the preferred norm in business communications.
- Know and practice content marketing, native advertising, and customized messaging. These are more than just new buzzwords. When married with personal branding, they form the perfect storm in matching the message with the audience interest.
- Make it visual. 75% of consumers watch video on their smartphone, 87% on their tablet (IDC Mobile Evolution 2015). People like information in this form; it’s important that we incorporate this platform into our channel mix.
- Encourage sharing. If a webinar’s content is significant enough or a white paper proves points that reinforces what a customer needs, they will share it among their influencer group thus reinforcing our brand and product opportunity.
In the end it is all about building trust and growing relationships—only when we do this will consumers let us into their busy lifestyle and take in our message. According to IDC, the strongest levels of brand engagement occur when behavior touches peoples’ interests or passions. If you overtly sell, you run the risk of disengaging with your audience.
So don’t sell. Empower.
Deliver useful information, provide tools, and shamelessly share information. Your audience will return the favor in kind—and that’s where return on investment is paid off.