More articles by Chris Chariton
B2B Marketing Trends on the Horizon
ADOTAS - 2011 is almost here and that means B2B marketing professionals are evaluating plans and allocating budget for the upcoming year. Each company has unique goals as well as challenges, and what works for one company may not for another—there are no universal marketing solutions.
However, the same key trends will impact every company, and marketers who capitalize on these trends will be better positioned to achieve their objectives.
Buyers Crave Content
Industrial buyers crave useful, relevant content to help build their internal business cases and justify buying decisions. It’s up to you to provide valuable content to help buyers make informed purchase decisions and help your company earn new sales.
Take stock of your existing content and match it to your audience needs. Then fill in any gaps. Maybe you’re short on content aimed at the economic buyer. In that case, create an ROI calculator.
Maybe analytical buyers don’t understand your novel approach to solving a problem. That might call for a case study. If you need more visibility and authority in the market, launch a blog.
Also, you don’t have to start from the beginning when developing content. Often you can re-purpose existing content for use across several media. For example, the white paper that becomes a webinar that becomes a video. Or the technical article that becomes a presentation at a conference that becomes a series of blog entries.
Users Want a Multimedia Experience
As with audiences everywhere, the industrial professional is now reading and watching and listening online. Take advantage of this trend by offering more than just words on paper or screen. Thanks to inexpensive technologies and high bandwidth, media such as video is simple to produce and easy to deliver to your audience.
There’s plenty of source material to create videos. You can record interviews, product demos, presentations—delivering anything from expert analysis and advice, to product announcements, to quarterly results. You also can use videos to promote events before they occur and to record and archive them for future consumption.
Don’t forget to promote your videos everywhere you can: on Web sites using links and banners, in blogs, through e-mail, and via social media tools.
Social Media Requires Your Attention
Many marketers are not sure what commitment they should make to social media right now. While there is a great deal of buzz and noise surrounding social media, adoption in the industrial sector remains low. It’s important to understand how your prospects and clients are adopting social media, and ensure that your level of investment matches your audience’s use.
Your first task is to understand how your target audience uses social media and what platforms they prefer. Our research has identified LinkedIn, video and Facebook as the most popular social media platforms for the industrial audience. You may want to survey your own base for their usage.
Once you understand how your audience uses social media, you can develop an appropriate social media strategy. Remember that social media doesn’t take the place of other marketing, but is a complement to other marketing efforts. You’ll need to place someone in charge of social media efforts, integrate social media into your existing marketing program, and establish success metrics to measure ROI.
New Marketing Channels Await
With the near universal adoption of the Internet by your customers and prospects, you now have more marketing channels than ever to choose from to reach your target audience. From search engine optimization and paid search, to online directories and searchable catalogs, to social media and e-newsletters.
One marketing channel that’s experiencing significant growth is the online event. These virtual tradeshows offer a complete interactive experience for both suppliers and attendees, with features such as live chat, virtual booths, discussion panels, keynote presentations, content distribution, Q&A and more. Plus, no one has to leave their desk or incur travel and other related costs.
It’s important to integrate all of your online marketing channels into a cohesive program that can become more than the sum of its parts. Work with media partners who understand your needs and can help you pull together the right programs designed to meet your goals.
Maintain Focus on ROI
The requirement for marketers to demonstrate ROI is a trend that is here to stay. For 2011, choose measurable marketing programs and define your objectives and the success metrics against which you will measure your success. It’s an old saying in the business world, but it never really grows old: you can’t manage what you can’t measure.
By making marketing plans for 2011 with these trends in mind, you will put your company in position to gain advantage, because the decisions you make will help you become highly visible to, and discovered by, more potential customers.
How right you are regarding buyers craving relevant content. I also find it useful to tailor content to different stages of the buyer’s journey, as you rightly point out, at different stages of their buying process there are different people involved in the purchase and different issues need to be addressed with specific content. Mapping content to these buying stages works well for my clients.
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