Start the new year by following these 7 best practices for B2B marketing
In the age of social media and digital marketing, are business-to-business (B2B) marketers finding traditional tools dysfunctional? Maybe, maybe not. Consumer products companies such as ITC or P&G will still be using point of purchase displays and flyers or they may try to use exclusive deals with Amazon or Flipkart. For B2B companies, a detailed demo CD of products or testimonials will still be needed even if the CD migrates to the web. Without effective collaterals businesses, they will find the going even tougher in this pandemic season.
Irrespective of the digital or the “brick-and-mortar” age, marketing collaterals are used to reach out to the right audience with the right message in the right place. Whether it is a brochure, case study, white paper, demo CD or web content, the collateral should communicate well to the target audience and gear to specific points in the sales process, be it the initial gatekeeper, the CEO or the CFO. How can small and medium enterprises (SMEs) look at developing collaterals that deliver desired results?
Here are seven best practices B2B companies can embrace to drive the effectiveness of collaterals:
- Define the recipients in a narrow focus and address their issues and concerns.
It is very important to develop the content in a narrow focus. Most companies develop it in such a way that it addresses every stakeholder involved in the buying process and that dilutes the message considerably.
The best approach is to develop the message tailored for each person in the “buying chain”. By focusing on a single role for each client, you can better address that person’s issues, challenges and aspirations. In other words, nail your goals.
It is advisable to ask some basic questions before developing the message: Who is this for? What do we want the customer to do? Pick a representative profile of the customer and test the collateral content with them. The focus on one person helps you use an easy-to-digest, conversational style that speaks to the target audience. If you have multiple audiences, consider multiple pieces of collateral. Many experts agree that focus is directly related to effectiveness.
2. Use case studies, customer success stories and usage scenarios
To bring down the abstract capabilities of your offering, it is best to use examples and stories. This will bring a tangible angle to your intangible business.
This translates in the following manner: show how a product or service is used when you need to describe the same to a prospect. Give examples. Tell a story about it, or better yet, have your customers tell a story about it. By doing that you will de-risk your offering and make it feel safer for buyers to buy.
It is also important to make the shift to the customer. Make it about the customer, not you. One of our clients uses customer success stories, usage scenarios, outcomes, case studies, and best practice summaries from existing customers. These are the kinds of collaterals most clients prefer to read and benefit from.
3. Understand the role played by each person in the buying chain
The alignment of content with the process that the buyers go through in making a purchase decision is important. If you do not have alignment, you will fail in not addressing their concerns at every stage and also not answering their questions that will take them to the next step in the cycle.
By focusing on the buyer’s concerns, challenges and issues, you are making it easier to develop content that is not product-centered.
4. Initiate a call for action from your prospect
The call for action should make the intended audience move to the next stage in the buying cycle. The effectiveness of the content is based on the conversion of the prospect to buyer. To reach that goal, you need to have your audience understand the next step in the process and this comes from your complete understanding of their buying cycle and process. Hence, the content should have a call for action and not a “Contact Us” detail.
5. Make use of graphics that are relevant and not abstract
I have come across material where women models are used to promote products or services that are totally out of context. Prospects are used to seeing these too. Yes, it is fine to use a model along with your product or service but if you can use real people, real quotes, customer logos and pictograms that convey information or a point of view, it will be much more impactful.
6. Move beyond PDF downloads
Most businesses today use their websites and emails to send PDF files of the collaterals. Should you do the same? Why shouldn’t you make use of a slide share, video or animation? Using technology, you can make it interactive.
If you just send a PDF, it is not cutting edge anymore. Would a video communicate your message better? A webinar series will be a good idea too.
7. Update the collaterals
Most businesses I know have a problem of making collaterals obsolete. They use the same collaterals and content for years unless the product or service is upgraded. They rarely evaluate the content based on its effectiveness and update.
You need to look at removing old collaterals and making new ones. This will also ensure that sales executives are trained regularly.