Marketers talk in code. It’s like any other job that people train for and practice over years. Marketing has its own jargon, strategies and shorthand ideas. This is especially true now that digital marketing techniques have made it so easy to adopt new marketing strategies.
In fact, marketing probably is worse than some other fields.
Marketers create and talk about new and shiny things, right? Generating demand by spotlighting something new and shiny is what marketing is about at its heart.
But there is a whole industry of marketers creating new and shiny things for marketing itself. They invent new marketing strategies, new technologies and new jargon all the time.
So that love of things new and shiny gets multiplied by itself again and again. It’s exponential.
Maybe you are a CEO, manager of a line of business, or otherwise working with marketers. It can be frustrating trying to decipher marketing strategies that will be here and gone before you know it.
You might think this applies mainly to consumer marketing. But in fact, business-to-business (B2B) marketing goes through just as much self-inflicted innovation.
Let’s explore some of the latest “shiny things” marketing strategies you might have heard about.
This is an old marketing idea brought back around recently. The concept is that you create marketing campaigns that are specific to an individual customer.
Say you want to land some marquee accounts. Your marketers would work with the sales team to create account-specific web sites or micro-sites, landing pages, email pitches, webinars, collateral pieces and other items. The marketing would target different stages of the sales cycle as well.
This is best for a market that is very crowded, with lots of competition and noise. It’s also good when you have a new product and need to land your early adopter customers.
The customer journey is the path a customer follows from no engagement to becoming your customer. It’s also sometimes called the customer lifecycle or “cradle to grave” marketing.
This strategy is especially important for B2B companies because the buying process can be complex and lengthy. Good Customer Journey Marketing provides tools for the sales team for each stage of the customer buying cycle. So the tools might promote basic awareness, clarify a need, build a business case, fend off competition and close the deal.
Sometimes called e-marketing, digital marketing uses digital tools to engage with customers and create demand. Digital Marketing programs involve web sites, social media, blogs, search engine marketing and optimization, e-mail marketing, on-line videos and infographics. The strategy is to “surround” your prospect with your message and brand when the customer is learning about problems and solutions.
It might seem trivial in a B2B context, but one of the main objectives in Digital Marketing is to raise your company’s rank in Google searches. Then you will be included in the all-important research phase that customers go through as they learn about available solutions.
Content in Digital Marketing
An entire industry has sprung up around Content Marketing, which is simply about publishing a continuous stream of quality information about your market, industry trends, and your offerings. It is about harnessing the tools and techniques described above in Digital Marketing, and then using a consistent message, set of topics, and keywords across all of them. For the content to be effective, it should be high quality, meaning it is educational and useful to your audiences. Search engine optimization is a key objective for Content Marketing, as well as engaging in a conversation with your prospects and customers. The goal there is to get prospects to engage with you in what has come to be called Inbound Marketing.
Closely related to Customer Journey Marketing and Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing is built on the idea that you only engage with the customer when they are educated and ready to buy (or close to it).
In other words, you surround the prospective customer with the content and data they need to understand their problem, understand the available solutions, understand why your solution is the best of them (it is, isn’t it?), and then engage when they want to.
So instead of blasting the world with traditional “outbound” marketing messages, you instead allow the customers come to you. They are “inbound” and ready to talk.
This might seem to be the realm of Instagram celebrities and social media influencers who get millions of kids to wear that particular pair of kicks. And certainly a savvy Influencer Marketing program is essential in many B2C markets.
But in fact influencers, in the form of industry analysts, trade journalists, subject matter experts, are essential to your marketing efforts in B2B markets as well. Odds are good that my friends at Gartner and Forrester and other industry analyst firms would scratch their heads at being labeled influencers. But they do indeed wield considerable influence over how IT markets evolve and how IT shops become aware of solutions and make purchases.
Influencer Marketing program in B2B will aim to show these influencers how your company’s offerings and strategy are visionary and market shaping. You need to engage with these influencers especially if Thought Leadership or Category Building are parts of your overall strategy.
Of course, none of these strategies is a magic silver bullet that will juice your pipeline in every situation. It takes planning, experience with finding the right mix, and a commitment to execution.
We’ve empowered B2B companies to execute on these and similar marketing strategies. Our digital marketing consulting, go-to-market strategy services and marketing plan templates will enable small companies, start-ups and pre-growth stage companies to market like the market leaders. Contact us today to see how we can help you.