Do you know how your leads pass through a B2B Marketing Process? We want to simplify how you think about the marketing strategies and techniques involved in B2B Marketing.
What is B2B Marketing?
A B2B marketing definition usually explains how this is the process of business to business marketing, and that the strategies you should use in B2B, compared to targeting consumers, differ vastly.
But our question to you is, if you were a B2B buyer, would you feel like you behaved differently to anyone else buying a product?
The truth is that 71% of B2B researchers start with a generic search (Google, 2015), and it’s a marketers job to make sure your brand, whether B2B or not, appears when someone searches for your product.
One of the only potential differences in the B2B marketing process is the length of time research takes. B2B researchers do 12 searches on average prior to engaging with a specific brand, therefore making sure your B2B marketing strategies are well researched and covers the range of questions a buyer could ask on Google is incredibly important.
What is the B2B marketing process?
The process that buyers go through can be summarised by using the AIDA model, a standard process in the marketing world of Attention - Interest - Desire - Action. It represents the stages a customer goes through before making a decision, and is also an opportunity to create marketing messages that specifically target each of these phases.
- To attract attention, you need to be visible. With 71% of B2B research starting on Google, search engine optimisation is arguably the most important aspect when creating visibility for your business.
This step involves aligning your business and branding with the needs of the customer. By creating a brand that is correctly positioned, you help reinforce the overarching message of your products. Apple are the obvious example, their products are industry-leading and the messages their marketing team create reflect this by focusing on quality, and rarely mentioning price. However price competitiveness is also a huge draw in the B2B world, and there’s no shame in focusing your message around price.
Proving your product or service has a benefit to the buyer is potentially the most critical step. Initially starting with benefits your buyer will receive, keep exploring why you’re better placed than any other competitor to serve their needs. One of the most convincing methods of convincing potential customers at this point is through data - and not necessarily in the way it sounds - testimonials, reviews and satisfaction feedback are all qualitative methods of giving the buyer more information before they commit to a purchase.
The final step is to be a clear as you can be about what action you want a buyer to take. This aligns with your content strategy and how you can add value to your buyer - do you want them to download a white paper, or would you rather they got in touch directly with you? Remember that buyers might not be ready for such a hard sell depending on the nature of your product, so choose the call to action that fits your product.
B2B Marketing Strategies & Techniques
There are obviously a huge number of B2B marketing strategies, but the most important thing to consider when devising your marketing strategy is to choose a range of channels that are suitable for your objectives. For example, businesses that are focused on direct sales would look into paid search and affiliate marketing, whereas businesses looking for more traditional lead generation would use content marketing and branding.
2017 has unofficially been dubbed ‘the year of personal branding’ (I’ll explain who said this later). However ‘personal branding’ can feel a bit daunting as a B2B marketing technique in itself, so let me simplify it. The owners/directors of your business will usually have been running your company for the entirety of its lifespan, so every customer, prospect, office estate agent, and coffee machine salesperson knows the MD(s). Above this, they know the product you’re selling better than anyone, at least in terms of why customers should buy it from you and not someone else.
Now, consider the messages you’re putting out on social media currently, usually these tend to tow the corporate line and lack a sense of personality. Yet whenever we’ve posted messages out on behalf of clients from MD’s, such as quarterly statements or even just a Christmas message, the response rate is phenomenal.
I’m not under any illusions that MD’s have the time to be posting their own content multiple times per day, but what they should be doing is sharing the content your marketing team publishes, and offering a personal opinion. The more this happens, the better.
Back to my original - 2017 was proclaimed as belonging to personal branding by Steve Bartlett - CEO of Social Chain. His story is an incredibly inspirational one, and to cut a long story short, he’s found a huge amount of success documenting his life, perspectives on business, and tactical thoughts on social media use. People keep coming back to his content because the team behind his business are using the latest methods to engage businesses, and there’s something relatable about seeing another business owner juggle all the things being an entrepreneur involves.
Content marketing is one of the most effective B2B marketing techniques, and should underpin your entire marketing strategy. The first step is to run an in-depth analysis on the stages your customer goes through before buying, and documenting them alongside your sales process i.e. how long a standard business development cycle is. Once you’ve got this, you can look into which channels your customers are most active in, whether that’s organic search, social media, external websites, and start gathering a list of all the ways you can make sure your company is visible in a buyer journey.
The next step is to plot this into a calendar, adding in which content you’ll release per week and what the objective is. The majority of content will aim to serve a few different purposes, for example, if you were to write a blog, it:
- improves credibility directly on your website as your news is up to date
- helps your SEO if you’re writing to target certain keywords
- can be distributed over social media
Finally, assess how your content is working every month. Are your enquiries increasing? If enquiries aren’t increasing, are average order values? Whatever commercial objective your business has, marketing has to tie into that.
We often hear that generating visits to your website is all well and good, but if they’re not converting then what’s the point in having them? The industry as a whole considers a website with a 2-3% conversion rate as a success, meaning there’s still 97% of your visitors leaving without doing anything.
Using tools such as Candii and Who Is Visiting, which rely on small snippets of code being added to your website, your website can look into what company your visitors are coming from and provide you with either suggested contacts from LinkedIn, or you can integrate your email database to track exactly who has been on your site.
This level of analysis is one of the final steps when closing the circle of the B2B marketing process. Getting insight into the businesses looking at your website can provide your sales and business development teams with enough to carry out a targeted approach, simultaneously improving their own conversion rates - all of which has a knock on effect. The challenge is tracking this and attributing success to marketing.
Make your B2B Marketing Process work for your business
Our advice, although slightly contradictory to this blog post, is that you should create a marketing strategy that works for your business. A standard marketing process won’t work for every business, especially a template found online, and it’s important to do your research before you try and implement anything.
If you need any help or advice creating your strategy, get in touch with our MD, Steve, for advice on how to start and what you should be considering to make marketing a success.