Palate Cleanser: Why Building Products Marketing Matters

24 Nov

Now More Than Ever, Marketing Still Matters to the Bottom Line

Bruce Case

Those of us who have been in the building products industry for many years know that when times get tough, marketing can be one of the first things to get cut. The simple, undeniable truth is that B2B marketing is often underrated, and sometimes under-appreciated—but still effective and important to sales strategy in 2016 and beyond.

I recently came across a video from the 2015 Remodeling Leadership Summit and Big50 Awards ceremony, in which Bruce Case, the President/CEO of Case Remodeling, discusses the importance of marketing to his business. It’s a simple little palate cleanser, but worth watching. Here are a few quotes I pulled if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing:

“The marketing plan is the lifeblood of the business…[yet] a lot of people are tempted to cut that expense. But then that begins the ‘death spiral’ because the calls stop. In today’s world of social and digital marketing, you can do it in creative and less expensive ways.”

  • On the importance of marketing.

“What we’re really trying to do is drive people to our website, use the website, get people educated, and then get them come to us.”

“We need to look to where we’re going to be in five years. With Houzz and Porch, things are going to be vastly different in five years. And it’s trying to figure out how we’re going to be in the wave, not in front of the wave so the wave crashes over. Look at other industries. Taxis were bowled over by Uber in a short time.”

  • On why the building industry needs to always look ahead and innovate. As marketers, we will get pushback on this, but he’s right—it’s not enough for us to address current challenges; we have to be that much smarter and look ahead to tomorrow’s challenges as well. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

Those were just a few of my favorite quotes from the video, but check out the whole clip here. (Don’t worry—it’s only about two minutes.)

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Proving B2B ROI Is Hard, But You’re Still Responsible for It

19 Nov

Don’t Ditch Lead Generation—Do Lead Generation Better

Marketing Strategy

As B2B marketers, how do we quantify the results of our work? How do we prove the effectiveness? The ROI. That’s the constant challenge we face, especially when it comes to the building industry, where we have to be that much smarter. The numbers prove it: 32% of B2B marketers can’t even name the digital marketing tactic that generates the most revenue for their company. (Elton wrote an article about that here.)

Nonetheless, the challenge of quantifying B2B marketing results does not absolve B2B marketers of the responsibility to provide them. I came across an article earlier this week that argues too many people are placing lead generation as their #1 measure of effectiveness when it comes to their content marketing, but because sales teams often do not use marketing qualified leads effectively, that might not be the best option. Instead, according to the article, engagement should be the most important measure of success.

They’re talking about a lot of the same things Elton and I have been discussing on Navigate-the-Channel regarding the buyer journey and the tools prospects need as they self-educate their way through the sales funnel—basically, the idea that buyers need good content at various stops through the buyer journey. Their argument, therefore, is that engagement rather than lead gen is the most important metric.

I don’t know how much I agree. The article fails to mention how one measures “engagement” vs. “lead gen” (Do we just measure web traffic? Social?) and how you justify the effectiveness of those results as a marketer.

My take: if we’re saying we need a different measure of effectiveness because sales teams are no longer utilizing our MQLs from lead generation efforts, maybe the question needs to become not how else we can measure effectiveness, but rather, how we can better incorporate the sales team in the early stages by working with them to develop a follow-up plan for what happens after the lead is generated. I’ve blogged about the importance of that here.

As B2B marketers, we have a responsibility to provide results; vague metrics might work in the B2C world, but B2B can’t afford not to know specifically where the money is going and whether or not every dollar is being put to good use. The simple truth is that, in B2B, marketing is often the first expense that gets cut. Delivering to results that can be measured is the single best way to prevent that from happening.

But don’t let that influence you—read the article yourself and see what you think.

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B2B Marketers: This Year, Be Classic—Not Trendy

12 Nov

2016 B2B Trends Report Proves the Need to Get Back to Basics

B2B Benchmarks

There is often a tendency for B2B marketers to get caught up in the latest technology and trends. I get it; they’re new, they’re exciting, and they can even be effective when paired with the proper strategy. But flair is only as good as the foundation it’s built on. The recently released 2016 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report from Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs proves that B2B marketers focusing too heavily on the latest trends sometimes miss the bigger picture when it comes to strategy and planning.

I’ve written recently about how B2B marketers need to remember time-tested methods of direct marketing so as not to miss out on proven opportunities to reach their audience. But what that post was referring to was purely tactical. After reading some of the stats from this report, I’m convinced that there are some bigger issues B2B marketers must address head on before attempting to incorporate the latest trends into their campaigns.

Here are a few of the statistics that led me to that conclusion:

  • Only 28% of B2B content marketers have a documented editorial mission statement.
  • Only 30% of B2B marketers say their efforts are effective, down 8% from 2015.
  • Only 32% consider their content marketing to be sophisticated.
  • Only 32% have a documented content marketing strategy.

What these stats reveal is that there is a clear lack of upfront planning and strategic thinking happening before launching a campaign. As is often the case, there is a mentality that B2B marketers need to hurry up and put out as much content as possible, often without taking the time to think about it beforehand. B2B marketers would do well to take a beat and reassess their overall mission, approach, and strategy. They must also establish the measurements by which they will determine ROI.

I know it seems obvious, but these numbers prove that it’s not. These are basics. But every B2B marketer out there has fallen victim to losing the mission due to heavy workloads, an attempt to stimulate creativity with a new trend, or a lack of clear communication.

So here’s an idea for 2016’s top trend: be classic, not trendy— before you buy into the latest software or marketing platform, how about documenting your strategy first?

Get more statistics from the report here as you fine-tune your 2016 strategy.

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There’s a Word for Doing Something Just to Please Yourself…And It’s Not “Customer-Centric”

6 Nov

Content Marketing Must Be Customer-Centric, Not Company-Centric

You know what I just love? Reading content by a business about their business. In my time as a marketer, I’ve learned that most of the world’s best writing comes when the writer completely disregards the audience’s needs. If I can read an entire history of a company in whitepaper form, I feel like I’ve won the lotto. And I think most people feel the same.

Did you detect any sarcasm there? Because you should.

Self Centered

Here’s why: company-centric content sucks. You would think that enough B2B marketers would have figured that out by now and I wouldn’t have to state the obvious, but here I go: the only good content is content that solves a problem—not sells a product. (Customer-centric means “Help, don’t sell.”)

And yet, a recent survey by B2B Marketing and the UK-based agency Tomorrow People, found that only 38% of marketers consider their content to be “customer-centric.” Let’s think about that for a second, because that means a full 62% of marketers admit that they basically created content to please themselves. (I think there’s a word for that…)

And considering the survey is based on self-reporting, the problem could be even more widespread than the numbers indicate.

How many of us are ignoring our customers’ problems to talk our companies up via content marketing? It’s hard to know exactly, but here’s one thing that isn’t: as B2B marketers, we must start focusing on the Buyer 360—that specific combination of understanding your audience via Buyer Personas and understanding their challenges via the Buyer Journey—if we hope to make an impact with our content marketing efforts and close more sales.

For full findings from the study, read the article at Business2Community.


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What Comes After Sales Enablement?

29 Oct

Take B2B Marketing to the Next Step with In-Person Meetings

In-Person Meeting

As building products marketers, it’s amazing to think of the amount of time and energy we spend planning out the perfect marketing tools and strategies. Sales enablement is one such tool that is becoming increasingly prevalent and effective. Done right, sales enablement can provide your team with the tools needed to generate and nurture more qualified leads and close more deals. But what can often go overlooked is what comes after sales enablement—the real, human-to-human contact that finalizes a sale.

It’s not just sales enablement that can fall victim to this, either. A lot of marketers spend time creating highly detailed, specific marketing campaigns, lead scoring systems, special trade show events, and so on, but never develop follow-up plans to determine what will actually be done with the leads produced from their efforts. Put simply, you can collect all the form submissions you want on a landing page, but if you’re not doing anything with those submissions other than sending them more automated emails, you’re not accomplishing much.

And yet, it’s more common than you think. Marketers fail to turn over qualified leads to sales, and salespeople fail to pick up the phone and call the leads they do get from marketing. It’s an endless cycle of unproductivity if not addressed.

As B2B marketers, we cannot rely on digital-only tactics or even sales enablement alone. Face-to-face is still the best method of actually closing a sale. Just look at a few stats I found in a recent Marketing Daily article:

  • In-person meetings are 85% more effective than virtual meetings, and this is even true for existing customers (65%)
  • For complex products and services (AKA most B2B purchases), decisions are made more on the basis of organizational/personal relationships and trust than technical features and functions
  • Cognitive studies prove that, in B2B sales, there needs to be an emotional connection beyond analytics
  • Overall outcomes of group purchases are far superior when there are face-to-face meetings with vendors, leading to both better efficiency and long-term satisfaction

Just because face-to-face is important in the B2B world doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to incorporate digital marketing and/or sales enablement. Instead, consider what your marketing can do to prime a prospect for a face-to-face meeting. And consider what sales enablement tools you can provide that will make the biggest impact for your sales team during a trade show or another face-to-face meeting with a buyer.

To read the full article from Marketing Daily, click here.

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