9 Things You Thought Were True About B2B Marketing But Aren’t
The one thing B2B marketers aren’t short of online is advice on how to promote their business. As a result, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about what B2B marketers should and shouldn’t be doing.
So what’s true and what’s not? Here we break down nine of the things you may have heard about B2B marketing that simply aren’t true.
MYTH #1: Social media results aren’t measurable for B2B businesses.
Truth: While Social media was a challenge to determine it's value, it no longer is with social media management marketing platforms, like Oktopost (shameless plug, yet so true).
There is a huge misconception across the marketing community that it’s difficult to measure the ROI (return on investment) of social media. The truth is, that it was. Likes and follows are meaningless, especially when you cannot prove that they lead to any sort of conversion.
Now, it no longer has to be a guessing game.
MYTH #2: There is no room for silly creativity in B2B marketing.
Truth: B2B marketing can be just as fun and silly as B2C marketing.
Since B2B marketing is targeting potential customers in a work environment, many marketers feel that they are required to present content in a formal, boring way. Yet sharing the benefits of a B2B product or service isn’t limited to brochures, whitepapers and lengthy PowerPoint sales pitches. You can be funny and entertaining while still providing valuable information, which is much more likely to be consumed when people are looking forward to seeing it.
A great way to have somefun with B2B marketing is to let people see behind the curtains. The best example of this is the way General Electric uses Pinterest and Vine to showcase their products around the world. The company shows their internal processes and even the scientific methods behind their innovations. They make science visual and interesting for everyone, businesspeople and consumers alike.
If the solutions you provide to businesses directly impact their customers’ experience, you can use that to your advantage in marketing as well. Look at how Zendesk does a spin on the ‘boy meets girl’ concept in their video showcasing the customer service experience their clients are able to provide when they use Zendesk products. It’s quite entertaining but still manages to pack informational content and evoke an emotional response.
MYTH#3: B2B marketing is about reaching businesses, not people.
Truth: People work in businesses, and they’re the ones making the decisions.
The very term B2B makes specific reference to businesses selling to other businesses, and, if successful, you will most likely have the business name on file as a client. However, marketers must always remember that within every business, there are people seeking your products and services and making the decision on whether to buy from you. It’s important to understand the roles these people play and create marketing materials and selling strategies to win over each of these key decision-makers in a company.
Additionally, along with reaching the business employees, it’s also beneficial to reach their customers and potential customers. Some businesses will choose (or be forced) to use your product simply because their own customers are requesting (or demanding) it. Gaining advocates and support from the larger audience will definitely work to your advantage.
MYTH#4: B2B Marketing is very different from B2C Marketing.
Truth: Both B2B and B2C marketing target people and have similar goals, so similar tactics work.
As discussed before, people are the ultimate target of B2B marketing campaigns, not businesses. Therefore, the tactics used to gain the attention of consumers, such as appeal to emotions and showing the benefits to the individual still apply. The only thing that changes is determining what emotional chord to strike and what benefits are most applicable in a work environment. For example, a B2C brand might choose to focus on home and family life and getting to spend more time with the people you care about, but that won’t work for a B2B brand. Instead, they could focus on getting to spend more time on productive work that matters.
Strategies B2B marketers employ will also be similar to those used by B2C marketers, because they have similar goals. The primary reasons any business engages in marketing is to build awareness, improve sales and build loyalty. These apply to any business, regardless of its target. Studies conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, for example, show that 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing versus 93% of B2B marketers. Content marketing has benefits across both groups.
MYTH#5: Old-school B2B marketing tactics don’t work anymore.
Truth: Old school tactics have never stopped working, and those who use them now in combination with new-school marketing 2.0, stand out from their competitors.
With the prevalence of digital marketing, social media and mobile developments, many people have stopped focusing on tried and true marketing techniques – but that doesn’t mean they don’t work anymore. In fact, if you take a closer look at modern tactics, you’ll notice they aren’t all that new, but instead are simply derivatives of old school tactics. Social media is like an online tradeshow, giving brands the opportunity to connect with customers, partners and media alike. Case studies and research papers once distributed through printed brochures and documents are now disseminated online and used as material for Slideshare presentations and webinars.
The Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing 2015 report showed that B2B marketers are still embracing and seeing results from traditional marketing strategies. Among the activities they said provided the best results were: in-person events, case studies, white papers and research reports.
The trick to using pre-existing marketing strategies is to modernize them and make them even more useful to your target audience. Brands now need to become publishers: which means the material they provide must be valuable to the audience, not push a sales agenda.
As with getting a postcard in today’s age of emails and tweets, getting printed material on your desk or real human interaction is actually helping businesses which are embracing this strategy to stand out from their competitors.
MYTH#6: B2B sales aren’t made through a website.
Truth: B2B consumers do a lot of research online before contacting a business. More information available on your websites reduces the number of touchpoints and closes the sale faster.
The B2B sales process is typically long, involving many stages between discovery and purchase. Traditionally, the person doing the initial research wasn’t the decision-maker, they were just responsible for researching options and compiling quotes. B2B companies are used to being contacted early in the process and assigning a salesperson, who would then walk the decision-makers through the process towards a sale by providing collateral, doing a sales presentation and hosting a lunch or two. So it’s understandable for businesses to think that a website only serves as an initial touchpoint for B2B services.
But times have changed. You now have the ability to walk customers through the entire sales process on your website without them ever giving you a call. B2B purchases are often highly researched, making reviews, recommendations, and content even more important. According to social media marketing expert Jay Baer, in 2010, B2B consumers consumed 5.3 pieces of content before making a purchasing decision. In 2011, that number jumped to 10.4.
Therefore, it’s important to provide them with as much relevant information as possible to help them make a decision. Chances are if your competitor is providing this and you’re not, that could lead to a lost sale.
While some B2B businesses are unable to sell on their websites, due to the nature or complexity of their offerings, it’s definitely possible to bring customers to the buying stage before they pick up the phone to call.
MYTH#7: B2B businesses don’t need an active social media presence.
Truth: Without actively using social media, you are missing out on a prime opportunity to build relationships and gain powerful insight for your business.
Many businesses believe that social media activity is not worthwhile because their customers aren’t using social media for business purposes. According to the Pew Research Center, 80% of online adults use social media. Forrester research also found that 86% of business technology decision makers use social media for professional reasons.
People work with businesses they trust and admire: Trust is developed through a relationship with the business and its employees. Social media provides a prime opportunity for building relationships with everyone – existing customers, potential customers, business partners, media and even your own employees.
Social media isn’t just for sharing content and building relationships, you can also gain insight into what people are talking about and get real-time feedback about products and campaigns, connect with potential partners and even interact with the media.
An important thing for B2B marketers to remember is that social media isn’t limited to Facebook and Twitter. In fact, there are social networks such as LinkedIn which are dedicated to the business side of human interactions. In the previously mentioned 2015 Content Marketing survey by CMI, LinkedIn was reported as both the most used (94%) and most effective social media platform for B2B marketing.
GetResponse also points out that Google’s G+ network is the second largest social network on the planet, making it a great place to connect with other businesses.
MYTH #8: Social media fans are qualified leads
Truth: Gaining a social media fan can mean several things. It’s important to track conversions and loyalty metrics to get a better idea of how your business is performing.
There has never been a more misleading metric than a ‘fan’ or ‘follower’ on social media. A new follower is not necessarily someone who has purchased your product before or is actively interested in buying now. Many times, it’s a result of someone seeing a few pieces of appealing content and deciding they’d like to see more from you, nothing more – at least for right now.
More telling metrics are conversions and loyalty, which, respectively, signify the stage of buying and loyalty of people who interact with your business on social media. These can be difficult to track without the proper tool.
With Oktopost’s Lead Information reporting (pictured below), you can get a clear picture of how many people are converting and see exactly who they are. When someone engages with your content, we pull in the information so you can see their names, email address, employer and contact information they’ve provided readily online or directly to you. It will show how long they’ve been interacting with you, the type of content they have shown interest in and the number of social media channels on which they engage with your brand (the more channels, the more of an advocate they are likely to be). It also integrates seamlessly with your CRM and marketing automation software so you never miss a beat when tracking leads.
MYTH#9: B2B marketing is done once the sale is made.
Truth: The ultimate goal of marketing is to create loyal customers who essentially become brand advocates, so making a sale is only a small part of the job.
It’s easy to get complacent as a B2B marketer, once the sale has been made. After much research and rigorous competition, the client chose you, which means you’re now on retainer or can be assured a steady stream of orders. Now you can move on to wooing the next potential client.
Not so fast. Here’s your rude awakening. With information so freely available online and some businesses offering incentives to switch service providers, you may lose your client without even realizing why they left. (Hint: It’s you, not them.)
The end goal of marketing is not to turn prospects into clients, but to turn prospects and clients into evangelists – brand advocates that sing your praises and keep doing business with you because you treat them well. Even after closing the initial sale and securing a client for future sales, it’s important to continue providing valuable content and great customer service. This will encourage them to stick around and recommend you to others, which is worth way more than tooting your own horn.
B2B marketing is not the elusive enigma some make it out to be. There are differences in tactics, but the core marketing process is very similar to B2C, and using similar strategies can often net great results. It’s important to remember that, at the core of businesses, there are people, who are just as welcoming to creativity, emotional appeal and connecting with your business on a deeper level.