B2B companies have recently had to confront an awkward truth. No longer is Sales driving the bus. Buyers are firmly in the driver’s seat with hands on the wheel and a foot on the pedal. And their journey can be a long one.
B2B buyers do not make purchasing decisions lightly; they weigh choices carefully. They take the time to investigate the market, to find out what is available, and to analyze which products meet their needs. Perhaps this has always been true, but today’s B2B buyers have something that their predecessors did not—a wealth of information available to them with only a few mouse clicks away. A simple Google search gives them access to product information, prices, and the pros and cons of almost any brand, product or service.
In the past, Sales could control the flow of information to some degree. They could guide buyers through product demos allowing for familiarization with product capabilities, and could highlight their strengths vis-à-vis the buyer needs. However, in today’s B2B climate, buyers choose when and where to engage. Often, your sales team is not even present for much of this process. By the time Sales has the chance to interact, the majority of the buyer’s decision is already complete.
You need a new approach. Below are five ways to boost your B2B Marketing into overdrive:
As the old saw goes, “ABC…Always be closing.” This is, of course, still an important part of a good sales strategy, but unfortunately, B2B companies who want to be successful cannot concentrate their efforts solely on closing deals. You also have to focus on filling your funnel. This means you should never stop building brand awareness. In other words, make sure you keep the top of your funnel filled, so that in the upcoming quarters you have deals in the pipe that you can more readily close.
To do this, set goals and choose metrics that make sense for your “top funnel” strategy:
This full funnel approach keeps your sales funnel active, and results in improved revenue and earnings.
To keep your sales funnel full, you have to target the right B2B audience. However, targetability requires data. Unfortunately, marketers are already swimming in data, with much of it useless.
What you need, then, is useful data that lets you segment your audience, so that you can nurture them based on their needs. Useful data lets you spend your advertising dollars efficiently and effectively.
The information you need about your B2B audience includes the following:
This information lets you segment your audience by their needs and by their position in your sales funnel, so that you can interact with them properly. Your audience needs target marketing so your efforts and dollars do not go to waste. The earlier you do this in the B2B sales process, the better.
As mentioned above, targeting your audience improves your marketing efficiency and helps you avoid waste. To continue the theme of efficiency, channel your advertising to reach the demographics you have uncovered in your target market research. In the digital age, you have several ways to take precise and accurate aim at buyers based on their interests, web history, buying patterns, Internet groups, and a wealth of other data.
For instance, LinkedIn ads let you target buyers based on job function, seniority, industry, and geography, so you don’t waste money or effort spreading blanket messages to audiences outside your target market.
This results in the following:
Targeting specific demographics is a great way to boost your B2B marketing into overdrive.
Make a plan to improve your B2B marketing efforts using the steps above, and then choose metrics to measure your success. What is it that you want to accomplish? Some of the most common goals include the following:
However, remember that your goal through this process is to improve your lead gen, brand awareness, and engagement. Your efforts do not have to be flawless. You should not feel discouraged that you have not exceeded your goals, as long as you see marked improvement in your results.
In other words, don’t let “perfect” get in the way of “better.”
Not every method is good for every occasion, so don’t rest on your laurels. As a B2B marketer, you must constantly evolve your strategies and methods if you want to compete in the marketplace.
Moreover, you cannot rely entirely on analytics. You need human brainpower looking at and analyzing your data to get the best results. Put a team of creative thinkers in place to perform data sleuthing and come up with new and innovative methods to attract buyers. Be aware that your team needs to evolve as well. A group put together three years ago is almost certainly inadequate, if it has not evolved to meet new challenges.
These five ways to boost your B2B marketing should help you fill your sales funnel and remain competitive in the new, more challenging, marketing environment.
This article was inspired by my Moneyball for Marketing podcast featuring David Karel, former Bizo CMO, and now Head of B2B Marketing at LinkedIn.
Originally published on LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog.
Image: Courtesy of Photobucket
Glenn Gow is an expert in marketing performance, Coach, Board Advisor, Author, Speaker, Podcast Host and Founder & Advisor of Crimson Marketing. Follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+. To get a free copy of Crimson’s One-Page Marketing Metrics Funnel, visit here.