I have been in the B2B sector for the past 6 years and you must have read all sort of posts and articles about why B2B is different? However, my take on it, is that it is not different; it just needs an extra step to what we all know and understand in the world of marketing.
I work with a service based B2B company that sells very customised consulting services to blue-chip clients that include also governmental entities. Coming up with the right marketing strategy is not always straight forward, cause you are tackling an industry and an audience that is quite savvy and have been exposed to just about any tactic out there. What we have been working with, and seem to actually tick the right boxes with our audience, is a mix of traditional marketing along side some new and innovative work through digital marketing.
PR and Events
Yes, I have to admit, regardless of what many might say, PR and events are here to stay. A survey by Statista.com in June of 2014, showed that 14 percent of responding marketers in the US, stated that their event marketing activities brought a return of investment rate of 5:1. With that, we can not ignore that exposure and the brand recognition traditional events bring to products and services alike is something that marketers all across will always include in their marketing mix.
Social Media with a twist a.k.a Content Marketing
According to Socialmediab2b.com, most B2B services companies currently spend 12% of their marketing budget on social media. This is considered quite low if we all agree that B2C marketers are (73%) more likely to develop a loyal fan base through social media than B2B marketers. A SocialMedia report also shows that B2B marketers were more likely (64%) to use social media to gain thought leadership than B2C marketers (50%).
I know we all read the stats and follow up on those insights, but from my experience in bringing in more social media interaction and work for my company, I can confirm that incorporating channels like Twitter and LinkedIn was effective in adding that extra step needed for us as a B2B service company to gain interest and awareness of our services.
What really works when it comes to social media is content. I and many marketers can not emphasize enough on the power of quality content and how it drives leads through.
Mixing it all up
So I listed a very basic traditional marketing channel like events and brought in Social media. However, it is not either or and for sure it is not just and. What works is a creative mix of both. So if you have engaged in a PR editorial, why not also ensure that there is also a digital version, as most newspapers and magazines are nowadays, and write a synopsis or even better a discussion on a relevant LinkedIn group to discuss that topic and bring in the editorial link as a reference for more on the topic.
We also do the same with standard events. We tend to get our speakers and key engineers for our solutions to be part of a discussion on channels like Twitter, through a digital chat, that yet again bring out our consultants as thought leaders in the field and at the same time build engagement with the audience that is guaranteed to be selected as we only invite our prospects and current clients to such initiatives.
Top it up with good Email Marketing
A 2015 study conducted by Salesforce.com states that 73% of marketers believe email marketing is core to their business. As B2B, targeting and frequency is the single most important element. As most businesses we invest in good marketing automation tools that enable us to segment and provide quality messages to prospects and clients. So we collect data and build frequent, but not too frequent, communication to invite and keep our clients engaged with our activities. What really works is putting ourselves in the shoes of our clients and really thinking what would make us open that email, and why would they bother to opt-in to more communication from us.
In summary, I say do a lot of AB testing to what works for your B2B company and do not be too afraid to venture in new territories if needs be. Social media can be tricky, but it can also work if we are selective and know who we are talking to.