B2B marketing can be challenging, tough, dare we say, a little boring at times. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s no short cut to success in marketing to businesses; no Narnia at the back of your wardrobe, but you can make it better, if you know how.
Marketing to other businesses is, in some ways, even harder than marketing to consumers. After all, those strategies which would be so new and cutting edge in the B2c market place are already being done by your very own customers. You’re doing SEO? They have an SEO manager. You’re improving the quality of your content? So are they.
To really succeed in B2B marketing, you need to stay a step ahead of the competition; to strive to go beyond your Narnia comfort zone; to boldly go… oh, wait, that’s a different reference altogether. Let’s just say you need to do better than they are, but how can you do that.
Knowledge is power, so let’s delve into the world of B2B marketing with our seven insider tips on how to make it run like clockwork.
Have a strategy
Do you have one? If you do, and you’ve got it written down and bought into by the people that matter, you’re already winning.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, less B2B marketers have a documented strategy in 2016 compared with the year before (32 per cent against 35 per cent in 2015). Their research also showed that marketing effectiveness levels increased by 48 per cent with a documented content marketing strategy, and that 53 per cent of the most effective marketers had this document within their organisation. Just as telling was the 40 per cent of the least effective who didn’t.
The numbers are clear, and so is the message: Have a documented content marketing strategy (which of course can be updated and developed as the year progresses) if you’re serious about being successful.
Being an amazing B2B marketer isn’t about being available 24/7, or sitting up in the middle of the night to publish your blog at the optimum time for your audience. Aint nobody got time for that!
Tech is your friend, and it’s here to make your life easier. However, proceed with caution, because too much automation can come across as impersonal and lazy. Find the sweet spot, where posts are getting delivered at good times for your audience, and you’re still personally available to interact at peak times too.
Last year, spending on marketing technologies overtook advertising for the first time ever, with an average of 33 per cent of overall budget being spent on tech, from infrastructure to software and more. If your company is lacking in the technology side of things, it’s time to step up your game, otherwise you risk getting left behind.
Take a data driven approach to defining your successes
Metrics, metrics, metrics. Do you know your cost of lead acquisition? How about the lifetime value of your average customer? If we’re talking Swahili right now, it’s time to get your maths head on and to get to grips with data.
There are ways and means of measuring the costs and benefits of pretty much everything you do today. From traffic to impressions, page rank to referral sources, likes, shares, opens and conversions, you can and should be tracking as many metrics as possible; otherwise, how you can you possibly decide if you’re doing a good job?
As we said earlier, knowledge is power, and yet, only 41 per cent of B2B marketers consider their strategy to be data driven. If you’re not down with the numbers, you’re missing a trick, so get to grips with the metrics you need to know, and use them to your advantage.
Invest in content
Everyone is creating content, but only a handful are creating really good content. Paying for poor quality content (with either money or time) is a false economy; it won’t bring the results you need, and will only make you look bad if anyone does take the time to read it. High quality content, on the other hand, can generate leads and traffic for months, even years.
If you don’t have the in-house skills to create quality content, put your hand in your pocket and invest in a professional. Finding content writers is easy. The internet is flooded with freelancers as well as B2B marketing agency businesses offering to do just that. The challenge, it seems, is to find a good content writer; someone who can not only perfect their prose with professional precision (and knows what alliteration is) but who also has a working knowledge of writing for the web, creating catchy content with SEO value too.
It seems that the gold rush of beautiful content has left something of a skills gap, with 32 per cent of B2B marketers claiming that finding quality content writers and marketers is a real challenge. However, with 70 per cent of the UK’s most effective B2B marketers stating that creating more engaging content is their top priority, getting to grips with his quality content is going to be even more crucial in years to come.
Oh, and by the way, if you want to pay peanuts for your content requirements, expect to be employing lots of monkeys.
Upcycle that content
You can get more bang for your buck when you approach content with the same ethos you do your kitchen waste; reduce, reuse, recycle.
Making things last longer is a running theme for the 21st century, so why shouldn’t this carry through to your content too? After all, you’ve paid a pretty penny for that awesome blog post (or, at least, we hope you did… remember the monkeys), and it’s working! Hooray! Views are up, clicks are up, leads are flooding in… so why should it’s success have to stop there?
- Reduce: Reduce the expense of creating new content; reduce the noise on your website and social feeds in favour of fewer, better things; reduce your stress levels because you’ve already found a winning format.
- Reuse: Let that astoundingly successful blog post evolve into something new… a SlideShare, a video, an infographic, a whitepaper? The internet is your oyster, and if you’ve hit on a winner, maximise it’s potential by letting it do the business in every sphere.
- Recycle: Even once you’ve completely maximised the ways to use that post, don’t just shelve it forever. A good piece of content will keep generating interest for months, even years, to come. Recycle it again next year, either as a ‘look back’ promotion or even with updated facts and figures for 2018. Similarly, if you have particular content that performed well last year, or the year before, why not update it for 2017 and get more mileage from your investment?
Even if the content didn’t perform amazingly the first time, it doesn’t mean you should give up on it. Sometimes, revamping it for a different audience or platform can be just the kick up the behind it needs to really start pulling it’s weight.
As any good B2B integrated agency will tell you, integration wins, hands down. It’s the one way to truly ensure your voice, branding and message stay consistent across all channels, and it’s how the big players do it.
Look at Apple, Red Bull, GoPro and any number of other household name brands. They do integration, and they do it well. Whether it’s TV, billboard, web ads or social promos, you pretty much always know what you’re going to get. It’s an area where too many B2B marketers have dropped the ball in the past.
The statistics speak for themselves, with consistent brands on average worth 20 per cent more than those who aren’t. If you’re looking for more support on creating a reliable voice across multiple channels, our B2B integrated agency can help.
Don’t be scared to fail
Maybe the most important point on our magic list of seven.
It’s OK to make mistakes. Some of the biggest achievements in the world have been born out of the biggest disasters. Walt Disney was sacked from a newspaper for a lack of imagination, Steven Spielberg was rejected by film school three times and JK Rowling had her Harry Potter manuscript rejected no less than 12 times.
It’s not essential that you fail before you succeed, you could just take the short cut through the back of the wardrobe. But you get the message; a few mistakes do not harm a career, and actually, it’s those who aren’t afraid of trying to be different that will rise to the top eventually.
Strike out, be unusual, and try new things, because there’s nothing worse than an internet full of clones.