Today’s B2B customers are driving the sales process and expect a more hands-on interactive experience. As a result, companies are looking for new ways to captivate and engage their customers to shorten the sales cycle and drive revenue.
Here are four strategies B2B marketers can employ to tell their product stories, more effectively leverage online content and convert leads into buyers.
1.) Create smart, flexible marketing content: People want interactive product content that’s relevant to their real-world experiences and consistent anywhere they go. B2B product marketers should create product content once and use it repeatedly across multiple venues—trade shows, sales meetings, analyst briefings, training sessions, etc.—without the content having to be re-programmed, re-formatted, re-developed or re-created for different types of hardware or operating systems.
Beyond just personalizing a demonstration for a particular prospect, good content should allow your sales and marketing teams to immediately address any audience (independent of title). If you’re in a room with an engineer or an IT professional, they’re going to be looking at your products from different levels, from a high-level architecture view down to the most minute details. Smart marketing content provides the flexibility to show each prospect of your products in a way appropriate to his or her desired level of detail. This avoids the pitfall of “one-size-fits-all” marketing by creating interactive, non-sequential product presentations with the ability to uniquely tailor information and tell a compelling story targeted to an individual’s business challenge.
2.) Tell your product story visually: Individuals are incorporating real-world objects, augmented reality, 3D product environments and other technologies into their storytelling. For 2013, marketers must be innovative and create an experience to trigger an emotional connection akin to having the physical products in-hand. Create digital product demonstrations that mimic the product not only visually but in behavior as well. This will help brands differentiate their products, stay competitive, better educate prospects, increase knowledge retention and accelerate leads further into the buying cycle.
3.) Put prospects in the driver’s seat: With the proliferation of hands-on touchscreens, tablets, and smartphones, audiences want more control over their individual product content and experiences, allowing them to influence or become involved in the dialogue.
The National Training Laboratory did a test on cognitive learning that shows that when people are presented with information (either via a video or by a verbal lecture) they retain a very small portion of the message (anywhere from 5% to 20%). However, when a person is actively involved in the process and learns by doing with hands-on experiences, they remember dramatically more (anywhere from 66% to 75% for the same time period.)
Therefore, don’t simply offer buttons to launch a product video or the ability to drag content across a touch-screen table. Make sure your product stories are truly interactive so prospects can connect directly with the benefits of the products. Customers are in the “driver’s seat” creating a personalized interaction they control based on their interests. They can navigate anywhere, anytime, in any sequence, allowing customers to explore relevant products and details of interest to them.
4.) Mobile content is a must: Interactive B2B marketing content created for tablets will lead to increased lead conversion and accelerated product sales. Forward-thinking marketers are realizing the strategic advantage of this new generation of mobile sales tools and are arming sales teams with marketing, product, and business intelligence tailored for mobile tablet delivery. A sales person can quickly personalize marketing messages to address a customer’s specific needs anywhere, at any time, making them a value-added business advisor and turning an impromptu encounter into a qualified prospect.
The ability to deliver consistent, controlled and current product marketing messages in real-time via mobile devices extends the selling environment significantly, affording access to more prospects, sales teams and channel partners. All of this increases sales opportunities while accelerating the purchasing process.
Gavin Finn is CEO of Kaon Interactive.