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How to get to No 1 in the mind of your customer in B2B marketing

Author's avatar By Rene Power 16 Dec, 2014
Essential Essential topic

Where to focus to get ahead and stay ahead of the competition

It isn’t always about embracing the newest, shiniest techniques. Instead, the fundamentals of consistency, reliability and credibility are often more important to make an impact with customers.

Customers may often cite innovation as one of the must haves, but it’s rarely at the top of the list. In B2B, they want continuity and risk mitigation.

That's why web searches, supplier websites, and email remain the primary information sources for the modern business buyer. These are the tools that allow customers to seek out products and services, to learn about the companies that provide them and to ensure they are regularly updated on them.

In our recent "Six ways to turbocharge your B2B marketing" webinar - now available on demand - we discussed six ways to ensure you are at the forefront of your B2B customer's mind. For those of you too busy to find 45 minutes for the webinar, here are the highlights.

Remember why you are in business

The underlying premise of effective B2B (digital) marketing lies in engaging customers and prospects and providing them with useful, relevant content that improves their own business’ revenue and performance and positions yours as an expert to rely upon. Keep this mind as you look at deploying the different elements of your marketing mix.

Turbo charging your website in B2B

There are three fairly certain truths when it comes to Internet marketing.

  1. A vendor’s own search is still the no 1 way buyers assess suppliers
  2. Your website is your 100% owned way of controlling what they see, learn and how they feel about your business. Ensure it is packed with they want (see website must haves below)
  3. All promotional routes need to lead somewhere – your website!

Graph showing website must haves

We discussed in previous posts building responsive into your website design and making an impact with digital marketing how companies like Trelleborg are overhauling their websites to put the customer and all marketing at the centre of everything. (NB: These are discussed in more detail in the webinar too).

Turbo charging your search marketing

Getting found then becomes the next challenge.

Search can be used effectively to support key campaigns and regional activity depending on your priorities. My advice is to start small with test campaigns to roll out further at later stage, rather than running a high level repeating spend - unless you are an ecommerce brand.

Reputable SEO experts will have a long checklist including things like keyword checking and selection, meta data incl. descriptions , URL and page titles, h tags, alt tags for images, anchor text on links, body copy, CTA copy. Getting all this behind the scenes content right impacts on where a page ranks in search.

And not having optimised pages is a severe obstacle to search marketing success. This may require a different approach in terms of campaign landing pages if it can’t be addressed.

If you are marketing internationally, it is important to ensure any campaigns are set up on the right country search engine, ideally with locally hosted and domain relevant pages – i.e. running French ads on google.fr to a .fr page will have a more beneficial impact and be perceived more significantly by the local search engine.

Finally, having the right inbound links can dramatically improve your visibility online. Existing digital PR plays a part by targeting trade media but there are so many other influences on page rank that can and should be considered too. (Each could then be monitored using referral goals in Google Analytics).

search marketing link building graphic

Turbo charging your email marketing

The nirvana of B2B digital marketing is converting web visitors to engaged prospect, then transactional customer. So once your brilliant content has been found on your website through search, you need to ensure you give visitors a reason to part with their contact data – so you can continue the dialogue and dig a little deeper to meet their needs.

This means email marketing is so much more than the email.

Email is still one of the most important B2B marketing touch points because it offers a direct way to access the people you want to interact with most. It is opt in, personal, immediate, transactional and gets more attention than any other medium.

Email works best when focused on problem resolution, the usable and useful nature of the solution, the context in which it is offered and where it is housed. Consideration, too needs to be given to the power of putting the right content in front of the right people at the right time.

Event triggered marketing graphic

Email isn’t just about newsletters. Most recipients don’t read them anyway– at best scanning the first item. Click through and interest drops off markedly per item.

Use email as a way to build advocacy and to engage recipients more.

Think about your own online experiences. Don’t you trust the brands where you get a double opt in, click to verify, a welcome, a thanks when you do something, a confirmation of order / despatch, or reminders on time sensitive deals.

Rethink your touch point strategy and build a little ecommerce thinking into your approach. Base your email around the actions your customers are already taking.

Turbo charging your story with great high impact content

Businesses solve real world problems for people who make value based decisions on the products and services they buy. There is a growing movement towards aligning more emotion with the rationality in the B2B buying process and for good reason.

Professional buyers in all categories aren’t just looking to make money, save money, reduce waste, improve performance. They want the reassurance of making good decisions, want the kudos for selecting well and want to get on in their career. This is where the story of what you do, how you do it, who does it and why you do it better than anyone else is critical in warming people towards you.

I could talk about content all day, but the best content grabs something inside us, tells a story, convinces us, moves us. That story telling ethic can work for your business too if you think CURE.

CURE content model graphic

Compelling – it is content presented in an engaging way

Useful – it is both useful and useable, the piece of content of itself can be applied to my situation

Relevant - it is advice on a subject relevant to me

Effective – it makes me want to do something as a result.

Turbo charging your social media marketing

Seven out of ten business people say that B2B brands don't do a good job of communicating with them online, according to a survey conducted in late 2013 by Maxus, the media planning and buying arm of advertising giant WPP.

The findings suggest that suppliers may be neglecting a huge audience of corporate buyers, who are perfectly willing to engage with brands and to hear their messages on social media, just so long as they're relevant.

Of the 500 respondents to the Maxus survey, 86 percent said they were keen to see company news from suppliers on social media, 79 percent wanted to receive promotions and 66 percent said they wanted information on product development.

For me, Bosch do a great job on social media in and around their Facebook page, making full use of the platforms's opportunities to host and post content, create areas for specific audiences and draw on a rich and diverse history. I'm sure you can do the same to create a brand profile people want to connect with.

Bosch facebook page

Being customer centric in all you do

So to the final part of the six part turbo charging your b2b marketing adventure. As I mentioned at the top of this piece, it isn't a technique, a platform or a tool. It’s more a state of mind.

You’ll read lots of predictions over the next few weeks (including mine) around things you should be spending money and time on to try and improve your cut-through. Tools that will help unearth more data for you to analyse. But the reality is, all the feedback you need to improve is sitting right in front of you.

Whether you start or finish with this, putting the customer and their experience at the heart of everything you do is key. Doing this transcends tools, platforms and technology and puts you much more in a service frame of mind.

UX customer centric experience

It is a great time to think about turbo charging your B2B marketing. Start by acccessing the free "Six ways to turbocharge your B2B marketing" webinar or by downloading the new Smart Insights B2B digital marketing bible today.

Author's note: At the time of the webinar referenced, René was business development director for BDB. He is currently an independent business marketing consultant.

Author's avatar

By Rene Power

René Power, has been the Smart Insights Expert commentator on B2B marketing for over four years. He consults, talks and trains on the deployment of the full marketing mix within trade B2B sectors including packaging, food, science, construction, engineering and professional services. He specializes in integrating digital with traditional and demystifying digital marketing, social media and content marketing for trade B2B companies. A Chartered Marketer, René authors the The Marketing Assassin blog, shares updates on Twitter @renepower and you can connect via Linkedin. Rene also authored the recently updated Smart Insights Expert members guide: 7 Steps to Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing guide.

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