“She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn't boring. ” Zelda Fitzgerald
Although B2B marketing can require sophisticated strategies, it is often seen as being less glamorous and trendy than B2C marketing.
In fact, according to a WHM survey, 48% of customers have described B2B marketing as “boring”! In fact, B2B marketing campaigns are often very effective (just check out these 13 amazing examples), but many people find it difficult to engage with them.
Is your B2B marketing boring your customers? Are you struggling to engage prospects and customers with your campaigns? In this blog, we’ll look at some steps you can take to improve your B2B marketing and make it more engaging. Learn more by watching our webinar on the topic, with Eoghan Ó Braonáin from DMI in conversation with Hannah Scherer of BigMarker.com.
Let’s begin by asking five probing questions about your B2B campaigns.
Effective marketing involves compelling storytelling. Does your brand story resonate with customers? Is it interesting?
Of course, you need to know who you’re telling your story to. Once you know what topics they are interested in, you can create thought-provoking and great content around those.
However, the story must be directed at the right people at the right time. If you are not giving customers information that they need – providing solutions to their problems – they’re going to turn off.
As Eoghan Ó Braonáin, Director of Enterprise Learning at the DMI points out, “Some of the best ways that we've ever figured out how to tell a story about a brand or a product is actually about doing that. We're connecting with people on a human level.”
Email marketing is a great way to engage with customers and build customer loyalty using carefully targeted stories. However, many companies simply use email as a broadcast tool, sending the same message to everyone, regardless of whether they are trying to acquire, nurture, or win back customers.
By carefully segmenting your customers, you can tailor your email messages to different audiences, meeting the specific needs of those segments with relevant, actionable information.
Obviously, you don’t want your B2B campaigns to be boring. However, remember that B2B campaigns are different from B2C campaigns. The B2B audience is not necessarily looking for the latest celebrity endorsements on TikTok or some quirky, postmodern blitz on Instagram. Also, business customers tend not to have the same passionate brand loyalty that personal consumers have. So, if your campaigns are too offbeat, they are likely to fall flat with B2B customers.
You do still need to build a connection with your customers, and that requires creative thinking and innovative campaigns. Instead of trying to engage with specific customers, aim to build and engage different B2B personas, such as buyers, stakeholders, influencers, and so on.
Linking back to the previous question, consider what specific message you can craft for each persona or audience, rather than unloading a highly innovative and hilarious (but unfocussed) campaign to all customers at the same time. Instead of focusing on trends and innovation, look to add value. And use only the platforms that your customers engage with, whether that’s LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or other social networks.
Tip: Download our buyer persona template if you need help defining your ‘ideal customer/s’.
It is sometimes said that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Marketing campaigns can also fall into the same trap. What starts out as an innovative idea can become mangled and watered down after endless consultations with senior management, clients, and other stakeholders. While it’s important to engage with all key stakeholders, too much input can simply clog up the processes.
If you're not careful "you could end up with a situation “where clients or senior leadership, and other stakeholders, edit a piece of content basically to death,” says Hannah Scherer, Senior Director of Marketing and Partnerships at BigMarker.
Always start with a clear vision and anticipate the needs of your target audience and align that with your overall business goals. Who are you talking to and what are you trying to achieve? What stage of the marketing funnel are you focusing on?
If your campaign is trying to increase awareness, don’t let stakeholders become obsessed with sales. If you want to nurture long-term customers, don’t get distracted by the endless quest for new leads.
The best way to combat committee thinking is to challenge it with hard data. Which content has performed best in the past? Use A/B testing to find out what works most effectively, and be guided by that, not subjective opinions that are forcefully expressed.
Marketing is a constantly evolving sector, and it can be difficult to keep up with emerging challenges. (Check out The Marketing Evolution ebook for more information on how chief marketing officers (CMOs) are moving to digital channels, for example.)
As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are trying to achieve more with reduced budgets. How can you get the best ROI on your dwindling marketing budget? This highlights again the importance of knowing which strategies and campaigns are delivering the best results and optimizing these tactics.
First, unlock the power of your data. Use testing, analytics, and measurement to get objective data. Find out where money is being wasted, and eliminate or adjust those campaigns to drive data-driven marketing campaigns.
Also, look at ways to reduce marketing costs. Perhaps marketing automation can deliver some efficiencies. Or maybe you can bring some tasks in-house – by upskilling your employees or attracting new talent – and reduce the dependence on expensive agencies. to reduce costs.
It may also be worthwhile to move beyond “either/or” thinking. Although the world is moving towards digital solutions, are there ways you can integrate your traditional marketing strategies with your digital strategies? Avoid the temptation to abandon your traditional campaigns (on the spurious impulse to reduce costs).
Although it is important to retain traditional strategies that are still delivering to ROI, be mindful of strategies that are simply no longer effective. For example, printed materials are slowly dying away in most industries. Given the costs of producing them, they don’t have a good ROI.
Also, trade shows and face-to-face meetings are becoming less common as the world has adjusted to virtual meetings and webinars. The trend of remote working has helped to cement this shift.
Think about what worked best in print materials and adapt it for online delivery. This reduces costs and enables you to measure content performance. Also, look to incorporate some aspects of personal meetings into your online interactions.
Let’s now consider some other ways that you can inject some more life into your B2B campaigns.
We now understand some of the weaknesses inherent in B2B campaigns, so let’s consider some ways to address them.
You can look at several trends to boost your B2B marketing.
As noted above, people are increasingly communicating online, so how can you use digital technology to effectively engage with customers?
Webinars are a powerful tool for communicating with customers and establishing your company as a thought leader in the field. They enable people to speak in their own words and tell stories that lend personality to their brands. See our webinars to get an idea of topics and questions.
Webinars allow companies to reach a broader range of audiences than would typically be able to travel to (and afford) conferences and other events. You can also broadcast to people in multiple locations around the globe simultaneously. Webinars are also more cost-effective for B2B companies because they don’t have to hire rooms to host the seminars.
With improved broadband widely available, companies can now stream webinars smoothly. As well as allowing people to communicate over video, many webinar tools have features that enable people to share screens, post files, chat in real-time, and communicate directly with others in private. It’s a two-way communication stream that enables you to engage in lively discussions with your clients and answer their specific questions.
When people attended traditional seminars, they often received handouts, marketing materials, and “goodie bags”. Webinars enable companies to share these materials digitally, either during the calls or (preferably) in follow-up communications. These materials can then be repurposed for social media or content marketing, such as blogs, video posts, infographics, or ebooks. (For example, this article is based on a webinar about B2B marketing). You can then track how recipients use these materials and whether the webinar leads to increased engagement or sales.
“Webinars are obviously a great opportunity for B2B companies to add personality to their brands.” Hannah Scherer, Senior Director of Marketing and Partnerships at BigMarker
We mentioned earlier how many companies are moving towards an omnichannel approach. However, this doesn’t mean simply bombarding customers with streams of information across multiple channels. You need to find what channels your customers are using and then find the optimal marketing mix to reach them.
As O'Braonain cautions, “I don't think there's a magic number, there isn't a special spice when it comes to which channels we need to be involved in, or how many of them we're using.”
In other words, there isn’t a magic recipe for the perfect marketing mix. It boils down to understanding your customers, knowing which channels they are using, and deploying tactics that generate the best ROI. Think beyond traditional distinctions between B2B and B2C customers. If your B2B customers are active on Instagram, then you should be too.
Tip: Check out ‘How to Choose the Best Social Media Channels for Your Business’.
When considering which channels to include in your marketing mix, you need to consider which channels are performing best for you. And this applies to your entire B2B marketing strategy. Make your decisions based on hard data, not on what you think works best for your customers. Assess, analyze, and adjust. Eoghan stresses that “anything that you can do to build a measurement and feedback loop that leads to results is the thing that's gonna get you to a point where you can start to test and learn and improve one step after another.
Data-based decision-making is essential for any successful B2B campaign. This means measuring the performance of your content marketing and the ROI of your social media campaigns, for example. As campaigns become increasingly digital, it becomes easier to measure, track, and attribute performance. Listen to what the data is saying, and learn from it. Find out what tactics are most effective, and apply these to your campaigns.
It takes time to discover the best B2B marketing strategy for your company. You need to be mindful of the weaknesses inherent in B2B marketing and find ways to address them. By applying the strategies outlined in this article, you can create B2B campaigns that will engage customers and deliver results.