BRINGING SEXY BACK to B2B MARKETING

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If you can get through this next sentence without falling asleep, congratulations. B2B marketing has traditionally consisted of facts, figures, testimonials and whitepapers. Still with us? Good. As boring as that all seems, we can assure you, it doesn’t have to be this way. And if you’re a B2B business out there, we just want you to know – it’s not you, it’s us – the agencies that owe it to you to help bring your brand out of its cocoon, releasing its true colours and allowing it to soar high above the mediocrity. After all, there’s no such thing as a boring product, just boring packaging.

Hit ‘em right in the ‘feels’
With a huge amount of advertising noise coming from every direction, particularly the digital space, it’s important that B2B businesses really put themselves out there. Marketing efforts need to be tailored for the common human, not robots. Tuning in to those things called feelings will encourage people to really engage with your brand and talk about it. Remember the customer comes first so ask yourself:

– What are they interested in?
– What’s the best way to reach them and when?
– How are you going to solve their problem?
– How are you going to make them look like a god to their peers?

Try to avoid hitting them with the hard stuff too early. Yes, they may need some solid facts at some stage but first, think about how you’re going to lure (ahem) lead them in. Although B2B products may not be bought for emotional gratification, it doesn’t mean the marketing behind it can’t include plenty of warm fuzzies. Make them feel safe, show them how cost-effective it is and let them know your company cares about them as an individual.

Get your flirt on
Let’s face it, you’re trying to make an unsexy product desirable so just like a finely-tuned Tinder profile, show a shit tonne of charisma and put your best profile pic forward. Social media is the forum to do this; it gives you a chance to present a familiar, less formal side to your business through the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Instead of your customers feeling like outsiders learning about your business, here’s their chance to get in on the action by joining conversations and sharing with their friends. Showing pictures of your staff is also a great way to ‘humanise’ your brand – “oooh, they look like a warm, down-to-earth company – in fact, they’re the kind of company I can see myself starting a relationship with” (sigh).

Stick to the game plan
Right, so now you’ve got an idea on how to make your company relatable and look super snazzy (side note: don’t go too far and use words like ‘snazzy’) so what now? Avoid going in hot without a strategy. You’ve got fun stuff and you’ve got boring stuff, now how are you going to roll it all out? Do continue things that have served you well in the past (we never said get rid of those white papers all together). Do target more than just the top dogs – an idea can come from any person in the company. Do aim to reach people outside of work hours too because, well, people are addicted to their phones and tablets. Don’t lose yourself – brand identity still needs to be evident in everything you do. If all else fails? Offer free stuff! Everyone loves a little win, even if it’s as simple as a free e-book.

Last but not least, don’t forget the plug. Whenever you get the chance, talk up your company and offer the easy click. For example, BallantyneTaylor would say something along the lines of “we know you’ve enjoyed this article, so don’t play hard to get – if you want to get a little stalky and see what other great things we’ve done (and could do for you) check us out riiiiight: here.

4 B2B marketing strategies with a B2C twist

As the digital world expands, business buyers are being presented with an unprecedented amount of information and opportunity for choice. This power of seemingly infinite knowledge and selection creates an unparalleled competitiveness that is forcing B2B marketers to evolve their campaigns to meet the growing expectations of their consumers.

But let’s face it, a B2B marketing career isn’t particularly glamorous — we’ve got to sell some downright unsexy products. So how can we present an engaging campaign about software, chemicals or manufacturing widgets to our extremely adept potential buyers?

The most successful business-to-business marketers start with building a brand, or in other words, they think like B2C marketers. The following are four ways to help “consumerise” our marketing practices.

1. More Marketing, Less Outside Sales

First and foremost, make sure all the information a buyer wants to know is front and center. One of the great strengths of B2C marketing is the wealth of product information that is available online, transparent pricing and easy purchase options. Yes, B2B purchases are significantly more complex, but marketers can provide detailed product specifications in easy to understand terms, demos and testimonials to help educate their potential buyers.

Marketers can speed up the purchase process by offering fixed pricing, which circumvents the need to negotiate. If a product is more complex with multiple features, tiered pricing will allow buyers to stay well informed during the research process.

Allow buyers to pay by credit card. This may not be an option for every B2B company, but it can greatly simplify the procurement process. Additionally, you could offer a line of credit to your buyers or provide direct billing online.

2. Give (Some of) it Away

Lowering barriers between a product and a buyer is crucial for B2B companies. When possible, try offering a free trial to customers — this allows them to develop an idea of what they can expect when the time comes for a purchasing decision. The focus here is getting people to actually use the product rather than marketers telling them how great it is.

A free product can go a long way; however it’s important to force a purchasing decision at some point. This could come in the form of a trial expiration date or blocking non-paying users from applying some of the features.

3. Customer Challenges to Encourage Feedback

Enterprise buyers want to know what their peers think of a product. Customer testimonials are certainly nothing new in the B2B world, however new technologies are providing ways to get customer advocates more actively involved in the marketing strategy. Platforms like Influitive allow B2B marketers to create challenges (i.e. provide a product review) that customers can complete in exchange for points. Acquired points can then be redeemed for an offer, for example a $25 voucher at a coffee house chain or even a free service provided by your company.

4. Marketing Gamification

It seems “gamification” is the new digital trend craze. It’s an interactive, entertaining way to promote awareness and encourages participation, not to mention makes tedious tasks (completing surveys) a little less laborious. Turning B2B marketing into a game is a bit tricky, but has proven successful for several businesses. Consider SonicWALL, a networking company who created a game for IT professionals called The Network Security Challenge. The premise of the game is to dictate what is allowed past the “security” as potential threats arise. As the game goes on, the threats are presented at an increasingly faster rate until it becomes impossible to stop every one. What the game is teaching its users is that no one person can manually decide what to let past a firewall and that a network security solution (SonicWALL) is needed to automate the process.

As the B2B and B2C worlds continue to intersect, we are likely to see more and more B2C strategies adopted by their business counterparts. While the list here is not an exhaustive one, they are a few tips to consider when making your marketing strategy more consumer-friendly.

If you want help developing a smart B2B marketing strategy with a B2C twist, contact our Digital Manager, Veronica Nobbs: veronica@ballantynetaylor.co.nz

The great con of content generation

You know all those B2B marketing whitepapers, articles and blogs heralding the benefits of content generation? They forgot to tell you something.

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Despite the fact business buyers genuinely want and need relevant information, we're in danger of drowning them. Content has reached a tsunami-like state.

Articles are more likely to be shared when the share buttons are at the top, because people are just reading the headlines. An article like this one, a lot of text and no pictures, requires an intrepid soul with an unusually durable attention span to reach the final full stop. (That's a polite way of saying if you finish this you're mad, get help.)

We humans now produce the same amount of information in 48 hours as we did from the dawn of civilisation up until 2003. And very little of it is original.

Just to power the digital warehouses that house all this new data takes roughly the equivalent of the output of 30 nuclear power plants.

It's now quite normal for a business to produce regular e-newsletters, e-books, whitepapers, blogs, webinars, podcasts, Facebook updates, Tweets and LinkedIn feeds. Mostly it's the same tired crap that's already been said a million times, a thousand more interesting ways.

Yet with stats saying93 percent of business buyers begin the buying process with an online search, and64 percent of senior execs search online for business information more than six times a day, it's unlikely the flow of B2B marketing content will slow.

Instead, imagination will hold more power. With so much content out there, and more being produced all the time, you need to either be strategic or very lucky to make any kind of ripple. I recommend strategic.

Here are some tips, but ultimately, it's what you do differently that will make your content stand out.

Attractive content attracts

Use nice design, compelling headlines, fewer words and more pictures, infographics and videos.

Be different

If it's already been said, shared, and is freely available, you're wasting your time. Take a unique angle or use an unexpected medium.

Listen

Find out what's important to them and what they find interesting, then craft your content with that in mind.

Buyers are humans too

Give B2B content a unique twist by tapping into topical events, human interest stories, internet memes etc.

Embrace dissent

Think of content like conversation, respond to feedback and encourage other opinions. Multiple viewpoints make a discussion interesting.

Prove it

Generate relevant powerful statistics and create content around them for a fresh vantage point that's more likely to be shared.

Pay attention

Track click-throughs and time spent, split test subject lines and refine your messaging in response. Keep testing and evolving as your audience does.

Mind your language

Make sure your content is written in the same language your target audience uses. Humour's good. Unnecessarily long words, not good.

 

Taken from Steve’s original article as featured inIdealog.