When you think of headline-making marketing stories, what comes to mind? Perhaps Oreo’s Super Bowl blackout, Coca-Cola’s #ShareACokecampaign, or IHOP’s name swap. But consumer brands aren’t the only businesses that need to spark a conversation. Peter Horst, author of Marketing in the Fake News Era, says that as worlds collide B2B marketers can take a strategic cue from their B2C peers. Going into the second half of 2018, keep these best practices on your radar:
1. Uphold your brand’s values. The question of what a brand stands for has become increasingly relevant for B2B organizations. Research shows that most Americans believe brands should take a stance on the big social and political issues of the day. According to a 2018 survey, 91% of millennials would switch brands for one championing a cause. Despite the risks involved in diving into complex discussions, brands cannot afford to ignore their customers’ most pressing concerns.
“B2B brands will be no exception,” Horst says. “As evidenced by Google’s associates protesting the selling of AI tech to the military, employees will be a key driver of B2B corporate conscience.”
2. Know—and show—your worth. “One of the great sources of CMO anxiety and turnover is the issue of marketing accountability: how to reliably assess and communicate the value that marketing investments drive for the organization,” Horst says. “The science is imperfect, common metrics and language are lacking, and most boards and CEOs just don’t understand marketing. So a big trend in 2018 will be driving to a common yardstick that CMOs can use with confidence.”
3. Get personal. B2C brands have made strides into hyper-personalization, while B2B marketers have trended toward account-based targeting. But B2Bs will embrace a deeper level of personalized content in order to run stronger programs, Horst says. As Jeff Marcoux, TTEC’s VP of Product Strategy & Marketing, said in his keynote at the 2018 B2B Marketing Exchange, “Personas and segments don’t buy your product—a human buys your product.”
4. Engage your social audience. “It’s easy to forget that business customers are people too, using all the same apps and subject to all the same human instincts as B2C customers,” Horst says. “Smart B2B marketers will have well-developed social marketing programs as a part of their mix.” LinkedIn is the social media platform of choice for 92% of B2B marketers, according to Content Marketing Institute. Don’t forget your strongest potential advocates: your employees. A recent study showed brand messages had 561% higher reach when employees shared them.
5. Invest in video. Video presents a huge opportunity to engage B2B audiences online. Analysts predict video will represent 82% of all consumer Web traffic by 2021. “The typical objection is that B2B marketing is all about lead gen, performance and metrics—not that airy, hard-to-quantify brand stuff,” Horst says. Nevertheless, video plays a key role in the marketing funnel when used to drive awareness, generate interest and build a strong customer relationship.
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