- Marketers = Renaissance Professionals: Do you love storytelling? How about finding and distributing exceptional third party content? Top B2B marketing strategists are not tasked with designing pretty brochures or orchestrating a well-planned event. We are expected to grow our B2B companies. According to David Meerman Scott, author of the highly popular book “The New Rules of Marketing & PR,” modern marketers must be:
Storytellers: You have to be able to tell a story that connects with a buyer’s journey – from “hello” to close. And, as Scott reminds us, B2B doesn’t mean BE TOO BORING! According to him, “If you’re publishing bad information, you’re nothing on the web.”
Curators: Having trouble finding relevant content to distribute? Try Curata, a very cool tool with razor sharp analytics that can help B2B professionals throughout your company develop engaging and useful content.
Technologists: Marketers can’t be afraid of technology. In fact, marketing technology, otherwise known as “Martech,” is the future. Do you know how to answer the question, “What’s your marketing stack?” If not, I highly recommend attending B2B C2C next year and, in the meantime, digging into some online reading on the subject.
Analysts: In the marketing field, analytics is helping B2B companies scale their marketing departments and be more efficient in how they spend resources on paid online advertising. There were many marketing analytics vendors at B2B C2C, but I was most impressed by Captora, a marketing technology and next generation SaaS solution that delivers actionable insights and recommendations to help digital marketers drive pipeline growth. The CEO of Captora said that an inexperienced part-time intern could serve as a small or mid-sized company’s champion for the Captora software, helping that company to realize measureable results in weeks. Boom! How’s that for confidence?!
- Free Your Content!: Ever since the Inbound Marketing revolution, B2B marketers have been focused on the almighty landing page – how to attract targeted buyers to them and then how to convince those buyers to enter their contact information to receive content offers. After all, if you don’t know who your prospective B2B buyers are, how can you nurture them throughout the purchase cycle? David Meerman Scott had more than a few jaws dropping with his advice to offer your content for free. (Picture looks of horror from Inbound Marketing enthusiasts!) He argued that if you free your content, the following will happen:
More people will read it and share it, creating valuable “inbound links” which are key to Google’s search engine algorithm.
Google will crawl and potentially rank the content because it loves keyword rich, fresh, relevant material that delivers an engaging user experience.
But wait! Don’t trash your marketing automation software just yet! Landing pages and gated content can still play a valuable role. Scott suggested adopting a “hybrid” model that involves giving away an initial piece of content to reap the benefits described above, then following up with a gated content offer.
- Beware of the Nurture Gap!: Hey sales people, how about changing your perspective from how you want to sell to how buyers want to buy? Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of Annuitas, shared that we are living in a “buyer 2.0 dominated world.” Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it sounded important so I tossed it in. What I did gain from Hidalgo is the idea that sales teams are not the customers of marketers. B2B customers are the customers of marketers. (Rock on!) We need to fight off our overly eager sales colleagues and better respect a buyer’s pace and needs by providing highly relevant content at each stage of the purchase cycle. According to Hidalgo, there is a “nurture gap” in most B2B companies. Sounds troublesome, but what does it mean? Organizations are great at capturing names at the top-of-the-funnel through a whitepaper download or the like. But then, instead of nurturing these leads by offering additional helpful information, B2B companies often jump straight to direct outreach – direct emails or phone calls – even when potential buyers are nowhere near ready to talk. Being too pushy and trying to direct a buyer’s journey often results in getting tossed from the game! The average B2B buyer reads 3-5 pieces of content before wanting a sales touch. So let’s be more nurturing, shall we?
- Your Biggest Competitor is No One: Tim Riesterer, a brilliant speaker and author of “Three Value Conversations,” told us that 60% of buyer journeys result in keeping the status quo. That’s right – the majority of your pipeline does absolutely nothing. As a growth-minded B2B marketer, I find that to be an unacceptable statistic. So how can we overcome the fact that buyers prefer stability, anticipate regret over big impact purchases, feel the cost of change is higher than the status quo, and are paralyzed by the number of vendors and choices? B2B marketers need to “incite” through our insights. Reisterer offered the following:
Create a context for urgency by presenting an unconsidered need.
Create contrast from a buyer’s current state to a potential future state so he/she understands the value of change.
Offer a real world dilemma that “lights their hair on fire” and then resolve the issue by presenting potential solutions (including yours, of course).
After presenting, Riesterer offered 25 free books to the first people to visit his booth. I shamefully mowed folks down to secure my reading material for the plane trip back to Philadelphia. I highly suggest purchasing his book.
- The Content Shitstorm: Most B2B marketers have realized that one-off content campaigns (i.e. an email blast) are about as effective as cheesy, “hey baby” pick-up lines. Companies that wish to compete for the mindshare of buyers need to produce a significant volume of highly relevant, targeted content. This is problematic since most in-house B2B marketers don’t have the luxury of content creation as their only duty or budgets to afford external resources. Content guru Ardath Albee presented the following hair raising scenario:
Typical B2B content situation: 1 organization has 4 buyer personas, 5 target vertical markets, and a need to produce 12 touches (1 per month) throughout the year. That’s 240 pieces of content. (This is Albee’s “Content Shitstorm.”)
What’s the solution? Albee recommended that organizations map out buyer personas and find the commonalities among them. What keeps all your buyer personas up at night? Once these common threads are identified, create one piece of content and repurpose it in slightly different ways to cater to the language of particular personas and/or vertical markets. She cleverly calls these “persona pivots.” See Albee’s presentation deck on SlideShare.
- All SEO = Bad SEO: Pandas and Hummingbirds – Google’s updates to prevent search engine trickery – have transformed SEO from a discipline that could be done by one tech savvy professional in a vacuum to a set of guiding principles that need to be embraced company-wide. A hyper-focus on actions just for SEO purposes will not yield solid results, and you’ll likely wind up with Google penalties. Lee Odden, author of “Optimize” and founder of the popular Top Rank Marketing Blog, provided a noteworthy review of many SEO themes that I heard at INBOUND 2014. What did I like most about Odden’s presentation? His fabulous list of digital tools which I have provided below:
As a bonus, he also mentioned a free tool called Huballin which allows users to enter topics and instantly know what keyword phrases (both short- and long-tail) potential buyers are using when performing digital research. Huballin provides yummy SEO food for B2B content marketers everywhere! Access Odden’s entire C2C presentation here.
A big thank-you to Demand Gen Report and all of the sponsors and speakers at B2B C2C for the powerful learning experience! I look forward to advancing my knowledge of modern marketing with all of you again next year in Scottsdale.
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