8 Tips to Update your B2B Marketing Communications Strategy
Your marketing communications strategy should begin with a focus on the customer!
The purpose of your marketing communications strategy is to create a positive image of your brand. It’s all about generating leads for your sales team to close – ultimately increasing revenue. Unfortunately, many business don’t sufficiently plan their strategy – it must begin with a focus on the customer! Companies should analyse their customers pain points and preferences, and then introduce products, services and marketing communications that complement these.
Below you’ll find 8 customer focused tips to update your B2B marketing communications strategy that will help you increase leads and sales. They’re not rocket science but in today’s fragmented marketing world, they’re often forgotten.
1. Don’t Ignore Infographics
Today, there is so much information available on the internet that you only have a couple of seconds to catch someone’s eyes to make sure they’ll consume yours! If created effectively, infographics and other charts are an engaging visual representation of your brand and key messages. A good infographic not only makes it easier to understand complex information, but can quickly go viral – giving the creator backlinks.
How to do it…
- Condense down your information: Do you have data you want your customers to understand? Condense your information into the most important points, and then find a way to represent them visually.
- Stick to your branding: You should design them with colors consistent with your company’s marketing strategy – and be sure to include a logo, backlink and URL on the image.
2. Build Your Website Around What Buyers Want
Your relationship with a prospect begins when that person visits your website – so make sure it’s ready for them! You need to be able to address your prospects pain points upon arrival and it should be easy for them to locate and download information.
How to do it….
- Employ a copywriter: Your written words are the first impression you make on a prospect. They should be meaningful and compelling from the very first sentence. The quicker you get to the point, and the faster your audience can make a decision about whether to pay attention or not, the more positively they will view you.
- Don’t talk about yourself: What’s important to prospects is what they need, what they like and what they want. Move company information off the home page and make sure your copy immediately discusses facts that are relevant to the prospects interests.
- Mix gated and non-gated content: Asking for a user’s email address in exchange for accessing your great content is a good idea, but be sure to give potential prospects a chance to try out some out before they commit to giving you their details. This will build trust.
- Be bold: B2B doesn’t mean boring. The best sites treat prospects like consumers with their tone and visuals. Make your site more engaging with big, bold visuals that bring your brand to life.
- Make it easy to make a sale: Many prospective clients still like to speak to a human before making a large purchase decision. Include a phone number across your site’s pages – assuming you have someone available to answer it!
- Track everything: Make sure all your great content is shareable – and that you’re able to track what works. The best B2B websites and marketing teams track everything using marketing automation software.
- Go mobile: There are no more excuses for a non-responsive website! 57% of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, and 40% turn to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience (Equation Research & Compuware).
3. Update your collateral
Your company’s success depends on how well you communicate what you have to offer. This, in turn, may depend on how well you prepare your electronic and printed promotional materials. Examine your current materials. Do they have a consistent theme? Do they talk to the right audience? Do they use the correct words and graphics? Would a different arrangement of the elements create a stronger dialogue with your potential customers?
How to do it…
- Don’t talk about yourself: The same as above. Instead of talking about your company’s achievements, keep in mind your customer’s pain points and be specific about how your product or services can help solve them. Be wary of simply listing features – don’t assume that readers will intuitively understand the benefits.
- Be prepared: The content you use for marketing collateral needs to be outlined before you begin your next campaign. This will prevent you from losing focus on the themes and types of content you want to promote.
- Create a style guide: A style guide allows you to outline your theme elements, which includes your logo and any key graphics, your fronts, key phrases and brand-oriented words. This helps you keep your audience in mind, which in turn allows your marketing collateral to be more targeted.
- Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes: Creating effective marketing content requires that you understand thought processes your potential customers go through when they view it. For example, how the content flows, what attracts the eye and how quickly your content can be read.
- Make sharing easy: Encouraging your audience to promote your content means you’ll reach a wider audience.
- Integrate physical with digital: Things like web addresses and QR codes printed on physical media can help customers access your business’s digital side.
4. Follow up on your prospects and customers
Sales and marketing no longer work in silos and the success of any marketing campaign is going to be directly affected by the way in which your sales team use the leads created by your hard work. Hence it’s essential that leads are being followed promptly and in the right way.
How to do it…
- Manage your data: Make sure you have a shared sales and marketing database of your contacts that allows you to organise information in order to streamline and scale your processes. This will help you better understand how clients move through the sales funnel and help you close more leads.
- Act quickly: A swift follow up keeps interested prospects engaged for that critical period before they move on to something – or someone – else. So ensure that your sales team follows up with any qualified lead within 24 hours so that they know who you are and why you’re contacting them.
- Be prepared: Each person that searches the web has a specific purpose. It is essential that the follow up call not only reference the specific piece of content that they viewed but immediately direct the discussion to the reason for this search, and the broader needs and pains of their company. The sales representative also needs to have the specific piece of content, and more available in case the prospect would like it re-sent.
- Create a nurture program: Just because a prospect does not have a current need for your product, it doesn’t mean that they won’t in the future. You should create a specific nurture program to ensure that prospects are not discarded. Any valuable information gained about the contact from the first call should be utilised for further nurture and discussion with the prospect.
- Report metrics: Implement a “testing phase” to your follow up program to gauge the value of different web sites, different content, and the follow up calling approach.
- Define a ‘”sales qualified lead”: Lots of sales reps will discard even those customers who are highly likely to buy in the future because they don’t believe they met sales qualified lead requirements – even if they haven’t been agreed.
- Create a follow up process: Agree up front how many times you will try to contact a lead. The last message being a polite, “this is the last time I’ll try to connect” – it’s surprising how often this gets a call back.
- Get the right people for the job: Your Sales team is made up of professionals with a diverse skill set – so you should be making use of those unique strengths. If someone has a particular expertise ensure they’re given the relevant leads to follow up.
5. Invest in targeted online advertising
Until not long ago digital adverts came in the form of the irrelevant banner ads that pop up in unwanted places. Now we are seeing more relevant and targeted campaigns with publishers and social media networks are shifting from earned to paid media.
How to do it….
- Invest in remarketing campaigns: Adwords Remarketing lets you show ads to people who have visited your website or used your mobile app before. When people leave your website without buying anything remarketing helps you reconnect with them by showing relevant ads as they browse the web, as they use mobile apps, or search on Google.
- Advertise on Facebook: Facebook sidebar ads are highly targeted to our online activity. You can serve ads to your subscribers, offering whitepapers, products and services they might be interested in.
- Advertise strategically: Spending more money on social media advertising won’t achieve anything if you don’t have much social presence or if your presence is too self-promotional. Advertising and organic content must work alongside one and other.
- Profile your customer: Before you commit to any advertising you’ll need to do a profile of your ideal customer. This will reveal where they spend their time and hence where your adverts are going to be most effective.
- Establish a look unique to your company: Carrying this look through for at least a year is key for any branding strategy. Remember you only get one shot – make them want to take action, and help them get in touch with you.
6. Modernise your PR strategy
It’s important to continually engage with your market’s influencers to gain share of voice ahead of competitors. It used to be that these influencers were a fairly concentrated group. Today, almost anyone can quickly become an influencer if they have a well-respected blog, newsletter, conference, or consulting practice. As a result, it is important to understand the intersection between digital PR, search engine optimization and B2B social media.
How to do it…
- Monitor your reputation: Knowing what others are saying about your industry and brand are essential in B2B public relations. To know what all constituents are saying, businesses need to stay on the pulse of conversations and news. Do the “poor man’s background check” and Google your brand to see how others see you.
- Optimise content: Content is the primary ingredient of public relations efforts. To maximise its effectiveness, optimise it for search. Adding popular keyword phrases that target journalists searching for to your headlines and content will help increase traffic to your media.
- Manage your brand consistently: If you don’t keep your brand consistent, as you engage more in networks your customers frequent, you may confuse or even drive customers away. Consider key questions such as: Are your different social profiles presenting the same information? Is your offline collateral identical to your online information? Do you use the same information at conferences as you do on webinars?
- Leverage multiple channels: In order to achieve success in B2B PR, you need visibility everywhere your customers are. Find the networks they go to for answers or communication with others in their industry; join them and listen for opportunities to provide value and support.
7. Separate yourself from spammers
B2B direct marketing can be a cost effective way to maintain a dialog with your prospects and customers. But how do you separate yourself from the batch and blast spammers?
How to do it….
- Know your audience: The segments you should have created as part of your marketing plan can be enhanced by developing buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictionalised, generalised representations of your ideal customers. They help you to better understand your customers and prospects and make it easier for you to tailor content to their specific needs, behaviours and concerns. You could even use profiling tools to build a picture of your customers. The technology exists to augment your data with detailed attributes, such as spending patterns, demographic and lifestyle characteristics.
- Be creative: Creative execution is critical. It must stand out from the crowd!
- Make an offer: With any direct marketing effort, always make an offer. Without something in it for them people will not respond. But don’t just give stuff away. Make them respond to receive the offer.
- Keep data clean: Less data but of a higher quality can enable businesses to extract more value from it. Cheap, bad data leads to poorly targeted marketing campaigns which only serve to annoy and alienate potential customers.
- Measure the response: The best way to improve future campaigns is to learn from the past ones. Analysis can determine which marketing activity provoked a response, it can even tell you the time of day when response rates were highest. This information enables businesses to market more strategically and reduce the costs associated with inefficient marketing activity.
8. Don’t underestimate trade shows
The modern consumer wants more than a pitch when evaluating solutions or making a purchasing decision. Events offer a unique opportunity for them to interact with solution providers to get a firsthand sense of a company’s focus, perspective, and personality.
How to do it…
- Leverage social networks: Since events are in real time, attendees often use social networks to get updates and to engage with other participants in a live environment. Hence, social networks offer a unique opportunity to interact directly with your audience and have them share your message.
- Live blog: Events are happening in-the-moment, so engage your readers by writing about what is top-of-mind for them. Additionally, live blogging is great for promoting what you are doing at the event and driving traffic to your booth.
- Focus on your benefits: Remember, business is about relationships. Your messaging should be focused on the benefits of your products/company not the features.
- Follow-ups: A proper event follow-up will set you apart from the competition and keep you fresh in the minds of your prospects. Always plan your follow-up strategy before the event begins – email follow-ups should all be written and designed, offers should be decided on, and any other call downs should already be planned.
- Measure results: You should have plan for measuring ROI from the outset and continue measuring after the event. It can be tricky to measure the ROI of events since they serve multiple purposes such as lead generation, pipeline acceleration, deepening customer relationships. Determine which goals you are trying to achieve and what you want to optimise.
No matter what the communication channel, the strategies for developing messages and campaigns that resonate with prospects and customers have remained the same – know your target audience and what they want and need and determine your campaign objectives first.
B2B Marketing: HOW TO: Follow Up Leads, by eMedia
Small Businesses: What is Marketing Communication Strategy?, by Felicia Greene
Andrew Barden: 10 Proven B2B Marketing Communication Strategies to Drive Revenue Growth
Gigya: 3 Proven B2B Strategies All B2C Brands Should Use, by Rachel Serpa and Sam Laber
B2B International: B2B Marketign: What Makes it Special?, by Paul Hague
B2B Information: Importance of Trade Shows In B2B Business
6p Marketing: 7 Steps To Develop An Effective Marketing Communications Strategy
Proven Systems: 5 Keys to B2B Communications, by Kristy
ClickZ: 6 More Best Practices for a Great B2B Website, by Kristin Kovner
Vital Design: Online Lead Generation Through Your Website: A Guide For B2B Companies, by Chris Getman
Hubspot: Why Marketers Should Invest in Visual Content Creation, by Lauren Sorenson
All Business: 8 Collateral Marketing Items Every Small Business Needs
Marketing Sherpa: How to Create Marketing Collateral B-to-B Prospects Love (Plus Get Your Sales Force to Use it Well)