Modern-day B2B marketing is more inbound than before, and it depends more on content and less on marketing collateral. This means B2B companies need to repurpose their resources and budgets from old-world plays to content-driven marketing that supports the buying process and offers nurturing touches to leads—regardless of where they’re coming from.
“Most B2B is really niche marketing,” notes Tyson Roberts, CMO of B2B marketing agency Yesler. “When you have a really small and known market, a purchase event – someone inside a company saying we need to go and take a look – is relatively rare.”
The right approach, says Roberts, is to put searchable, compelling content on the Web to make it easy for B2B buyers to find your company. Then automation can be used to nurture and qualify those leads after this level of engagement has been established.
This approach requires B2B companies to shift away from the old view that more revenue requires more salespeople and to the newer perspective that the number of salespeople required depends on the number of leads generated. Roberts says this can lead to “delicate” conversations with his company’s customers, but that the message is resonating with high-level executives.
“Traditional product marketing and traditional direct-selling tactics are both diminishing in their effectiveness, which just further justifies the need for a more intelligent and modern B2B marketing approach,” says Roberts, who will be a featured speaker at B2B LeadsCon in New York in August.
The Value of Mobile and Social
Roberts says that his company has seen an increasing amount of traffic its clients’ websites coming from tablets and smartphones. The problem is that many marketers haven’t adapted to that trend and, consequently, have yet to implement responsive design. The message Roberts has for these marketers is simple: “You’ve got to fix this.”
He’s observed websites that adapt to the mobile trend go from having startlingly high abandon rates to notching the same kind of engagement they get on desktop and laptop computers.
Though Roberts says he’s not quite sold on social media for B2B marketing due to the lack of convincing data, he has seen value in social as a research utility. Perusing social media platforms gives companies the chance to see exactly how their current and potential customers are talking about their problems and solutions. B2B marketers don’t have to guess at key phrases to use anymore – now it’s about responding to your market with the very words they use.
“Social is finally, from a B2B standpoint, starting to take a natural form of a relationship,” Roberts says. “Instead of spewing information, people are starting to realize that the value of social is in engaging in dialogue.”
Improving the Relationship Between Sales and Marketing
Roberts has seen both sides of the fence that lies between sales and marketing, and he says the key to improving the cooperation of these two sides is alignment. This starts with an agreed-upon revenue model and a very defined process, from the initial contact with a prospect all the way through to a closed deal, along with entry and exit criteria along the way.
For example, sales and marketing should agree on thresholds – a behavioral score of at least “X” and a demographic score of at least “Y.” “Get very specific,” Roberts says.
Laying all this out and having clear definitions of success and failure up front is crucial. “It sets the framework for the biggest opportunity for sales and marketing, and that’s to have shared accountability – visible, transparent access to the commitments they’ve made to one another,” Roberts says.
After mutual understanding and commitments are made, reports can be built to alert each side to what’s going on. If certain expectations aren’t being met, friendly reminders can be sent to the other side. Now marketing can finally hand off real value to sales and enable salespeople to run the plays it defines.
Roberts note that high-performing teams will welcome this level of transparency, while other teams will see this kind of alignment as threatening and cumbersome.