Being a successful B2B tech marketer isn’t easy. Here are six ways that B2B marketers can up their game.
B2B marketers, especially in the tech space, have their work cut out for them. Buyers have higher expectations than ever before. There are new technologies to master. Content is reaching overwhelming amounts – and still growing. Finding and resonating with the right audience is tough. Buying cycles are long and require input from multiple stakeholders. We could go on, but if you’re a B2B tech marketer, you already know the challenges.
How can you overcome all the challenges inherent to B2B tech marketing? There are six things you can do to level up your skills.
Six Steps to B2B Marketing Greatness
Success in the fragmented, complicated, rapid-change world of B2B tech marketing requires commitment and a willingness to learn – and keep learning. These six steps will help you on your way:
1. Sharpen Your Tools
First, sharpen the most indispensable things in your marketing toolbox – your skills. Like other types of marketing, B2B marketing relies on people who can:
- Communicate the right message at the right time. And since B2B tech buyers may not prefer the same channels as the B2C audience, engaging on the right channel is also important. Don’t neglect the human element, either: person-to-person interactions are still a valuable asset in the marketing world.
- Listen to their target audience. This could be customer service teams or other people involved in the B2B buying process. Directly asking your target audience questions is good; visiting forums and communities designed for your audience is also a great way to learn about their concerns, wants, and needs. Don’t just base your approach on assumptions (yours, your company’s, or the general public’s); dig down and find out what’s really going on.
- Analyze the data. Your CRM, marketing automation, and digital asset management tools probably have a goldmine of information in them; use this to inform your decisions and approaches.
- Acquire new skills. When you’re proficient in them, work for mastery. Embrace the new, be willing to step outside your comfort zone, and ask for feedback on your performance. Set goals and see what you can do.
2. Take A Different Path
Most B2B marketers take the same track: focusing on the product or service, and making price, capabilities, and benefits the key business value of their offering. But this approach has two major flaws:
- It’s fairly easy for someone else to replicate your key selling points. If you have a new feature, your competitors will likely be coming out with something similar soon. So, differentiating your product based on capability alone won’t work for long.
- Focusing on yourself – your product, your features, your general awesomeness – leaves out a very important person: your customer. Focusing on their challenges, motivators, and needs is much more effective.
Yes, it’s important to let people know about your USPs. And it’s certainly desirable to direct attention to special offers, time-saving features, and other benefits. But to succeed at B2B tech marketing, you need to 1) know your target audience in a very detailed way, and 2 craft your message according to their needs, not yours.
This means that you have to invest time in customer research. Understand what motivates different buyers, what drives purchase decisions, what behavior patterns emerge. By building detailed and accurate buyer personas, you’ll know who to talk to, what to say, and why they’re interested.
3. Copy the B2C Playbook
B2C marketing is customer oriented. The most successful B2B marketers take a page from the B2C playbook: they never forget they’re marketing to people, not businesses. Behind every business decision, there’s at least one human being. While business purchases are often driven more by logic than emotion, emotion still plays a part. B2B buyers must consider how their organization will react to their decisions; there’s still anxiety connected with making a potentially poor choice. How will their decision reflect on their judgment, their perceived value in the organization, their trustworthiness?
As a B2B marketer, you can speak to the human side of B2B buying by establishing a relationship with your contacts. Build trust with them and give them the feeling of support and security that they need to proceed confidently with their decisions.
4. Plan Your Strategy
As tempting as it is to “just get going”, it’s better to have a strategy in place first. Creating a strategy allows you to understand your goal and the steps you’ll take to get there. You’ll be able to prioritize ideas, meet business objectives, plan your workflow, define a unified goal, and even get an occasional reality check regarding what you can do in a month, quarter, or year.
When strategizing, remember to plan for these four fundamentals:
- Goals: Define your business goals, how you want to engage with your audience, and how marketing will help you do so.
- Metrics: How will you measure success? What’s a good or bad performance? Knowing what success looks like gives you something concrete to move toward.
- Action: What steps do you need to take to meet your stated goals? Be precise, e.g. “How many web leads do we need to meet our quarterly sales goal?”
- People: Workflow, tools, human resources, and operational governance are essential to a successful marketing plan – and to a successful outcome!
5. Get the Right Tech
Proper marketing tools will keep you organized, making it possible to reach the right person at the right time. CRM and BI (business intelligence) tools keep you informed about customer activity. Marketing automation tools can launch and track email campaigns, landing pages, and buyer personas. Marketing management tools help you manage, review, and approve projects, share files and other information, and analyze content.
Without these tools, processing information and acting on it in a timely manner is much harder. Using all three together allows you to get an in-depth look at buyers’ interactions, motivations, and behavior – key factors in remaining competitive in today’s market.
6. Say No to (Some) Business
This might well be the toughest thing you have to do. It goes against every fiber of a marketer’s being, but sometimes you have to say no to certain sales. Some clients – those that won’t drive long-term value, scale, and revenue for your company – are just not a good fit. It’s better to focus your efforts on the right customers.
Yes, this might mean limiting yourself to a few personas at first. But targeting the right customers, focusing on building a strong relationship with them, and directing your communications and energy towards qualified leads helps you build a solid foundation for future success. When the right customers are happy, you’ll reap the rewards via customer retention, brand loyalty and advocacy, and upsells.
How to Tell If You’re a B2B Tech Marketing Success
B2B tech marketers are busy people. We’re always engaged in multiple things at once: demand generation, content marketing, thought leadership – and the list goes on. Among so many things, how can you know if you’ve achieved B2B marketing success?
The exact definition of success depends on you and your company. Your first step is knowing what you need to do to meet your business and professional goals. Next, you have to continually follow through on this never-ending journey. Sharpen your ability to listen, communicate, and grow. Let your customers’ needs, goals, and wants drive your marketing efforts. Establish and build strong relationships with your customers. Understand which customers will grow with you, and which ones aren’t the right fit. When you can do these things, you’re well on your way to B2B tech marketing mastery.
* Ms. Richa Kapoor is Global Leader – Marketing & Communications of Absolutdata.