Whether you’re a field-tested veteran with decades of experience under your belt or a newbie to B2B, there’s always a new lesson to learn when it comes to marketing. As with B2C marketing, B2B marketing has entered a period of rapid evolution—tactics valid as recently as five years ago have fallen from grace, and marketing concepts you’d never heard of at the turn of the millennium sit at the core of the top marketing firms’ strategies.
Today, we’ll uncover seven B2B marketing strategies your business needs to consider if you’re interested in keeping up with the competition.
Network, Network, Network
Modern social networking has redefined how businesses network, and businesses that overlook their potential in their B2B marketing efforts will suffer. What’s key here is authenticity in your networking; cold contact works passably well for face-to-face networking opportunities, but it’s very easy to ignore someone on the Internet.
Make a name for your business within the professional networking sites like LinkedIn by participating earnestly in discussions, answering questions, and being generally helpful.
Reach For Decision Makers
With professional networking sites like LinkedIn, ubiquitous corporate websites laden with employee biographies, and dozens of other ways to inform yourself, there’s little reason to “start at the bottom” with an approach. Figure out who will decide to buy your product within your target companies, and shape your marketing accordingly.
This concept holds true whether you’re developing a website for incoming traffic or reaching out directly to the decision makers. The content of a page on your blog or a cold-call should be equally thought out.
In all aspects of modern B2B sales, flexibility reigns supreme. This means offering package deals alongside a la carte deals, a readiness to adapt to industry shifts, the ability to engage businesses using the jargon they’re familiar with.
Rigidity means leaving profits on the table. In B2C, this degree of flexibility from a company is rarely expected, but in B2B you can be certain that your prospects will expect the freedom to get the services they want how they want them.
Be An Industry Thought Leader
Assuming a position of authority within your industry has always been a superb B2B marketing strategy, but the nature of the Internet and modern business interactions has opened the door for many more “leaders” to reap the benefits of authority. Even if you can only position your business as thought leaders in a particular corner of your industry, that can be enough to empower your company in a broader sense, lending credibility to your marketing far beyond the niche you lead.
Manage Customer Engagement
Modern businesses can collect, organize, and react to data to a degree no previous generation of marketers could even dream about. You can understand how and why different approaches, websites, mediums or products succeed or fail with different customer segments, adjust slightly, and rapidly develop a working concept of what works and what doesn’t. This allows us to manage our interactions with customers in a new way, combining scientific methodology with the traditional art of sales.
You can and should control and shape every point of contact with a customer, from their first brush with your company through to their final customer support call. All contact has marketing implications, especially in B2B, and it’s now possible to manage all of that contact.
Use Inbound Marketing Techniques
Outbound marketing has held up better in B2B marketing than B2C, but inbound marketing is a rising star regardless. Developing your marketing to “catch” prospects looking to inform themselves means positioning yourself for prospects of a far higher quality—and gives you an amazing opportunity to shape their perception of the industry, your products, and tangential issues with their full support.
Just be sure to shape your inbound marketing toward business readers; use jargon, emphasize data points and statistics, and keep things professional. If the person you’ve netted needs to pitch your product to a superior or a team, you need to be certain they’re armed appropriately for the effort.
Loyalty has always been important, but it’s much easier to lose that loyalty in today’s hyper-informed world. An emphasis on building relationships over quick sales, high quality customer support, and an attention to detail is incredibly important for any business’s long-term B2B marketing efforts. Good word of mouth spreads, but bad word of mouth spreads faster!
The shifts brought on by the Internet’s evolution and businesses’ adoption of newer, better technologies can be summed up simply: Increased availability of information. When you understand the implications the other changes to how customers in B2B and B2C markets buy become obvious, and the new ways we need to approach them become common sense.