Content marketing, marketing automation and cool websites are not just for B2C companies. To be successful, B2B marketing strategies must also include these tactics.
I’m a lucky dog. Not only do I have a great home and family, but I have a “second home and family” at the office. As an integral part of the team, I also get to go on some interesting field trips. For instance, I recently toured a manufacturing facility and found the machinery fascinating (and the people gave great ear rubs!). But as I drifted off to sleep (as I often do during meetings), I overheard a disturbing conversation.
The owners of the manufacturing facility claimed that they “don’t have an interesting story to tell” and that the marketing strategies used by consumer goods companies (aka the “big dogs”) don’t work for them. Sadly, I’ve heard this before, so I let out a moan and rolled my eyes. (Unfortunately, the people in the meeting misunderstood my response and thought I needed to go outside. Sigh.)
Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are differences in buyer personas and messaging, B2B marketing strategies should include the same tactics that successful consumer goods companies use to attract prospects, lead them through the buyers’ journey and generate sales. To play with the big dogs, you need to:
Rethink your marketing budget.
Many B2B marketing strategies skew heavily towards print advertising and trade shows. If you’re still spending the bulk of your budget on these tactics, ask yourself when was the last time either of these expenditures resulted in qualified leads or an increase in sales. Depending on your industry, both tactics may still offer some value. But, shifting dollars into content marketing, marketing automation and e-commerce is akin to investing in new equipment—the ROI will be much higher.
Update your website to reflect your capabilities.
According to the “Industrial Manufacturing Trends, and Strategy” report, there is a “technological renaissance that is transforming the look, systems and processes of the modern factory.” If you’re part of this renaissance, congratulations! Embracing technological advances to improve productivity and maintain a competitive advantage is critical in today’s manufacturing environment. However, while manufacturing facilities are starting to resemble scenes from futuristic thrillers, many manufacturer websites are more like B movies from the 1980s!
Successful B2B marketing strategies include websites that reflect the investments companies are making in technology. The battle for sales is happening online. In fact, according to a report by Forrester, 68% of B2B customers prefer to research independently online before contacting a sales rep. Your website is your new storefront. Does it look inviting? Or does it say, “We’re old school?”
Buyers are younger and tech-savvy. They expect a website to tell your story, clearly demonstrate your products and provide the information they need to make a decision—all within minutes! Website styles, content and UX (user experience) have changed dramatically over the past five years. For instance, is your website mobile-optimized? Mobile devices account for nearly 2 out of 3 minutes spent online and nearly 50% of people will choose a different search result if the first is not mobile-friendly.
If you haven’t kept up with these changes, now is the time for an update. For more information, check out “6 Ways to Update Your Website and Boost Business.”
Get social on LinkedIn.
Many manufacturers eschew social media because they believe it’s the domain of B2C marketers. While posting on Twitter or Facebook may not be the right tactic for your business, there is a place where you should be—LinkedIn. The 2020 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks study found that 97% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn and 80% of B2B marketing leads sourced from social media come from LinkedIn.
Of course, it’s not enough to just “show up” occasionally on LinkedIn. B2B marketing strategies should include maintaining a great Company Page which leads visitors to click through to your website. To keep audiences engaged, post regular updates aimed at your target audience.
Embrace content marketing.
The days of customers responding to cold calls are gone. In fact, studies show that 90% of B2B decision-makers don’t respond to cold calling. As mentioned, customers in every industry are doing their own research prior to engaging with a sales rep, reviewing 10-12 sources before contacting a company. These educated customers are looking for vendors who understand their pain points and provide relevant, useful content. Indeed, 89% of B2B buyers use the internet to search for products and services. If you’re not producing and distributing online content, these potential customers may never find you.
Start with a marketing strategy.
Does your marketing department consist of a summer intern and one of your sales guys (when he has extra time)? If so, you’re not alone. Marketing is not high on the priority list of many manufacturers, but it should be.
First and foremost, you should have a clear marketing strategy, which includes a budget, goals and KPIs to track performance. Second, B2B marketing strategies deserve a dedicated, experienced staff, even if it’s just one or two people. Ideally, your “staff” should have a background in sales and be familiar with your industry, as well as be knowledgeable about current marketing trends, such as content marketing.
Finally, marketing folks should work closely with your sales team to understand customer needs and pain points, and coordinate efforts. If you don’t have the internal resources or could use some assistance, consider hiring a marketing agency for all or part of your efforts. Again, this investment in marketing is just as important as purchasing the latest equipment.
The bottom line: it’s time to reassess your B2B marketing strategies to determine what is no longer working and what can be done to produce better results for less. After all, investing in the latest technology to become more efficient and service-oriented is something to brag about, and marketing is the way to do it.
Don’t force me to moan and roll my eyes at you.
Need assistance developing a B2B marketing strategy, producing quality content or updating your website? Call Sean Hickey, Director of Strategic Growth at 734-646-0713 or drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.