B2B Marketing – A Tougher Putt Than B2C?
Selling directly to consumers involves knowing your audience, where they are, what they care about, and even where they view and remember ads. With super-intelligent tools available on many social and advertising platforms, and the help of data, algorithms and AI, the options are almost endless.
But when it comes to selling to brands, agencies, and other businesses, does the game change?
The short answer is yes, with a “but.”
Whether you’re an experienced marketer or a novice, you’re probably aware of the tools available to build audiences for B2C marketing on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Deep troves of data are available on these platforms to refine your target, build and deliver your message, and even find people who “look like” your current customers. This is primarily because so much data is collected on consumers as they like, share, engage, and roam on these channels. Not to mention how many other data points are connected through apps, physical purchases made in real life, and geo-tracking.
Finding information about your B2B targets and the tools available to target them with ads is harder to come by. The data pool is a bit shallower on business targets. And even if you have the data, cold calling and uninvited emails are becoming far less effective. I know my personal “BS” alarm sounds every time I see an email that starts with “just following up on my previous email…”, resulting in a quick and deliberate strike of the delete key.
So, how do we connect with our B2B audiences?
From an expanded view, let’s first remember that these businessmen and women are human beings. They have interests, behaviors, and passions like the rest of us. If there are commonalities on a personal level that your professional prospects share, attempt to connect those dots. It’s why playing golf with potential clients has long been an activity where business gets done. It’s a shared interest for a lot of folks from various life groups and interests, it feels personal and can help establish great rapport. If you can identify that your B2B audience generally shares a passion, you should absolutely use it in your targeting and communication strategy.
From a different angle, there are several tools available to find lists of prospects in your desired industry. If you’re in business development or sales, you probably get offers to purchase lists of data and emails on a daily basis. But, then what? Back to cold calls and unsolicited emails? Asking them to choose from the top 3 reasons as to why they haven’t responded? Follow-up after follow-up until you mass email your contact into submission? Is that how we want our professional relationships to begin? Does this methodology really put you in a position of perceived value? I submit that it’s likely having the exact opposite impact that you desire, even if it results in leads.
In an effort to provide some solutions, here are a few things you could do, assuming you have data on your prospects either through organic means or via the use of available list-building tools.
- If you have first-party data, especially existing customer lists, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Your clients are with you presumably because they value the service you provide. According to a recent study from Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. Remember that you don’t get what you don’t ask for.
- Offer something of value to your prospects. Your expertise should align with your potential clients’ needs. (If it doesn’t, we have bigger fish to fry.) Offer insights via email, a newsletter, a blog, LinkedIn, etc. Tell stories about how your work has created success for others, giving your prospects a chance to put themselves in their shoes and imagine the same success.
- Use “push” AND “pull’ strategies. Push out messages and communications with value as described above, but also make sure that you’ve got a solid trap set for those whose interest you’ve piqued. Place forms, cookies, and pixels on your website connected to a CRM to track your prospects as they engage and explore.
- As you return engagement to those who are curious about you, make sure you’re listening more than you’re selling. Your prospect will tell you everything you need to do to win their business, but only if you’re listening.
In addition to these top-line approaches, we’ve crafted custom methodologies designed specifically for B2B marketing. These include our preferred tech stacks that will help nurture your funnel from top to bottom, automate certain communication along the way, alert you when a prospect is hot, and filter out bottom feeders that might otherwise clog your efforts and distract you from the “right” clientele. Your understanding of your business and our proprietary research informs our approach, whether it’s awareness building, targeted communication/ads, or developing an effective email strategy.
We are the “needle-in-the-haystack” finders. We’ve helped radio clients find Nielsen ratings participants to increase their ratings, construction companies connect with equipment providers and increased our own customer base and revenue by doing the very things discussed in this article.
Let’s get started together! I’m all ears and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh, and sorry — I really suck at golf.