Tag Archives: B2B Buyers

Concoct the Perfect Recipe for B2B Personalization

21 Jun

B2B Buyers Seek Personalization Efforts

B2B_mix

It is no secret that personalization is essential when marketing to B2C buyers. In fact, according to a recent article, 80% of marketers believe personalized content is more effective. So then why is there a lack of personalization within B2B marketing? This is something that those in highly personal industries (like building products) must especially consider. One of the biggest challenges facing B2B personalized marketing is that there is no perfect recipe consisting of equal parts strategy, data, and technology usage. But as someone who knows a thing or two about making concoctions, here’s one that virtually any B2B marketer can use:

Take 1/3 Parts Strategy…

It is important to keep in mind that B2B buyers have different needs and desires than that of B2C buyers, and therefore they need to be approached differently. B2B buyers are more understanding as to how the industry works, and they are looking for transparency and recommendations, as well as content that will educate them and solve a problem.

According to an Accenture survey, 54% of B2B buyers want personalization and “personalized recommendations across interactions.” This allows you to establish a relationship with your client before a sale even takes place, creating loyalty amongst clients.

No matter how flashy your marketing ploys may be, they won’t mean anything to a customer if they don’t have a need or desire for it. Knowing your audience and their demographics, purchasing behaviors, motivations, and location can change how you garner content for each client.

Add 1/3 Parts Data…

To help capture useful data and to better understand your target audience, you can create a brief survey for them to fill out. When personalizing content for B2B buyers, including data attributes such as their name, company, and role within their company can be the deciding factor in whether or not your client is initially engaged. This can also be helpful when generating leads or creating a personalized lead-nurture campaign. It can even help you tailor emails to those specific buyers and even include imagery and links that will create a personalized touch.

Mix with 1/3 Parts Technology…

While content and strategy are essential to personalization, so is technology. According to Rapt Media, 94% of B2B buyers say better content technology is crucial to creating personalized content that is measured and optimized. So what does that mean? Technology can be used to simplify your company’s message and can be used across different platforms that relate to your audience. For example, content from whitepapers can be repurposed for short, digestible videos and then the audio from the video can be used to make a podcast for clients who don’t have the time in their day to watch a video.

Shake Well and Serve

Granted, my preferred concoctions usually involve a shaker and a cold glass, but the perfect personalized B2B marketing campaign can taste pretty satisfying. And with a fresh strategy that is geared toward B2B buyers, you can satisfy your customers’ needs while also gaining new revenue and retaining reoccurring revenue. All you need is three ingredients and a shaker.

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2015’s Top 10 Building Product Dealers and Lumberyards to Follow on Twitter (Part 1)

24 Sep

Prepare to Click Follow—A Lot.

Click Follow

You’ll hear a lot of people in the building products industry make the claim that social media isn’t important to their marketing strategies. But the truth is that generational dynamics are shifting, putting Millennials and other social media users in new buying positions. It’s not something that’s coming down the line—it’s something that’s already happening. For many building products marketers, however, the bigger issue is simply knowing where to begin when trying to incorporate social media into their strategies.

To that end, I’ve rounded up a list of the top building products dealers on Twitter. If you’re in the building products industry, go ahead and click the “follow” button on these accounts—they’re getting it right.

  1. Lumber Liquidators (@hardwoodforless): Lumber Liquidators regularly posts information and images about the latest trends in the building products industry including flooring and more. Plus, they post images of customer home transformations that jog the inspiration of pros and homeowners alike.
  2. Moore Lumber (@moorelumber): With daily tweets and informative industry article, Moore Lumber has a lot to offer their almost 1,000 followers. Not only do they share company information and sales, but they also feature supplies that can be used for DIY Pinterest projects.
  3. Sherwood Lumber (@sherwoodlumber): Taking a slightly different approach to some other lumberyards, Sherwood Lumber tweets about wood and forest science as well as industry news that building products marketers need to keep abreast of.
  4. Ro-Mac Lumber (@lumber_romac): This account smartly utilizes expert insight by incorporating company interviews, blog posts, relevant articles, and excellent video content that sets them apart from many of the other lumberyards on Twitter.
  5. Fingerle Lumber Co. (@fingerlelumber): What Fingerle gets about social is something that can’t be taught—it’s about being a part of a larger community and finding posts that people can relate to. Although relatively new to Twitter, they post regularly about their culture, Ann Arbor community events, and their lumber products.

That concludes the first half of our list, and if you’re looking for even more accounts to follow, look at our previous lists here and here.

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B2B Marketing: What’s Easy Isn’t Necessarily What’s Right

6 Aug

Is Your Marketing Making Life Easier for You or Your Prospects?

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There’s a saying that doing the easy thing is not the same as doing the right thing. It’s definitely true for B2B marketers—what’s easy for us to produce might not be what is right for our audience to consume.

But we like easy; as children, we were taught that practice makes perfect. We were taught to do the same thing over and over and become an expert at it. We were taught that the more you do something, the more successful you’ll be—and the easier it will get.

All of this is ingrained into our very being from a young age. And yet as B2B marketers, everything we know goes against this way of thinking.

Case in point: for many years, B2B marketers (especially in the building products industry) knew what their audience wanted—simple, sales-focused materials like brochures—and we gave it to them…in excess. We practiced it until we perfected it. And we did the same thing over and over until we were experts at it. The more we did it, the more successful we were. The easier it got.

We were practically crapping brochures. After all, what better way to showcase the features and benefits of your product than a document that does so in exhaustive detail?

In 2015, the answer to that question is: content that helps, not sells. Sure, your sales team might still need a brochure, but a brochure is little more than a “kiss ‘em goodnight” add-on to leave a prospect with—it’s not a way to start a conversation, and it’s certainly not going to generate leads by itself.

Interesting, then, that a recent study by the NetlLine Corporation and the CMO Council discovered that brochures are still the most commonly produced materials by B2B marketers, yet whitepapers deliver the best leads when it comes to B2B content marketing strategies. So where’s the disconnect?

Simple. B2B marketers are doing what is easy—what they know. And in doing so, they’re ignoring the very clear numbers that prove this is not the content their audience (or sales team) needs when making a buying decision. They need materials that help—not sell: whitepapers, calculators, apps, quizzes, etc. Unfortunately, these tools are more complex, time-consuming, and expensive to produce, so some B2B marketers opt for brochures.

For B2B marketers, making sales-oriented materials that focus on features and benefits of what we want to talk about (like brochures) is easy. We’ve practiced it, perfected it, become experts in it, and even had success with it. But what is right is giving your sales team the content they need to generate leads and giving your audience the content they need to feel comfortable making a purchase—content that educates and helps.

Be the B2B marketer who does what is right—not easy.

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Is Your Sales Promotion Failing? Or Are You Just Failing Your Sales Team?

31 Jul

Drive Sales Promotion Results by Marketing to Your Sales Team

Sales Team

Here’s something you might not expect a veteran B2B marketer to say: The success of a B2B sales promotion does not hinge on the prizes, nor does it hinge on the theme. It’s not only about the bells and whistles. It’s not even only about the messaging.

A promotion is, however, dependent on buy-in from your sales team. So what would make a long-time B2B marketer and veteran of countless sales promotions say such a thing? Simple: experience. I’ve seen some of the best promotions with the biggest prizes falter—even the longest-running, most historically successful of promotions—without support from internal sales teams.

As a marketer, the ultimate goal is that your work drives sales, and often, a sales promotion might be one of the biggest projects of your year. Consider these tips to ensure your success with the support of your sales team:

  1. Tap Your Sales Team
    Sales teams are important in almost any B2B marketing effort, but they’re especially important in promotions that push a specific product (whether it’s more educated or sales-focused). The first step is to recognize the value your sales team brings to the table, and to make them feel valued. Your internal sales team should receive their own communications throughout the promotion—a “promotion within a promotion,” that will ultimately encourage them to drive a lot of its success. Send them results and updates throughout the promotion, not only to encourage their competitive spirit, but also to remind them what sales goals they’re working towards.
  2. Enable Your Sales Team
    We’ve discussed the importance of sales enablement in the past. With that in mind, just as you might send out weekly or bi-weekly emails to remind dealers to participate in the promotion, you should also send out weekly or bi-weekly emails to remind your internal sales team to encourage sign-ups and participation from the people they talk to every day. But don’t stop there—give them tips and tricks like scripts to use at the end of every sales call. Create unique product flyers and hotsheets that help them sell the product and push it that much harder during the promotion. You might even consider how a concurrent customer rebate could drive sales down the channel.
  3. Incent Your Sales Team
    Okay, I take back what I said earlier—prizes do matter. But they don’t matter to only the participants of the promotion. They also matter to your sales team, who must use hard-earned political capital with their customers to push a new promotion on top of their normal, day-to-day sales. Asking for the help of your sales team is great, but be ready to put your money where your mouth is and offer them the incentives they need to push that much harder. Consider that being able to offer huge prizes for participants of the promotion is only as useful as the participation it garners, the leads it generates, and the sales it closes.

Despite the changes in technology, B2B is still about personal interactions and relationship-building. If you’re not engaging the people on the ground to leverage their relationship, your promotion isn’t failing you—you are failing your promotion. Create a “promotion within a promotion” to encourage your sales team to get in on the action.

One guess what’ll happen…

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Content Your Audience Wants But Isn’t Getting

23 Jul

Is Your Content Passive or Interactive?

myf021 (hi res)

It’s no longer enough for content to be good. (Heck, maybe it never was.) It’s not even enough for content to be timely, personalized, well-distributed, or repurposed. What’s also important is that your content is interactive—or at least, some of your content is interactive. In fact, a Customer Think article argues that the #1 type of content that is most impactful to today’s buyers is also the same type of content that they get the least of: interactive content.

While whitepapers, webinars, and case studies are still widely consumed in the B2B space, there is plenty of room for new and innovative content. B2B marketers shouldn’t feel constrained by these more traditional types of content, described in the article as “passive.” Interactive content such as interactive presentations, ROI calculators, and assessment tools is highly valued by B2B buyers. Not only will it break through some of the clutter by simply breaking through established norms, but according to the survey, it also outperforms passive content in:

  • Producing prospect conversions
  • Educating the buyer
  • Creating differentiation from competitors

Most importantly, this is the type of content B2B buyers want. And the proof is in the numbers:

  • 45% of respondents rated the value of interactive presentations as a 4/5 or 5/5, but only 31% of them had been able to access any in the past year
  • 23% of respondents rated the value of ROI calculators as a 4/5 or 5/5, but only 31% of them had been able to access any in the past year

One of our clients features a piece of interactive content on the homepage of their site, which allows their prospects to calculate estimated savings based on the typical ROI from utilizing their services. This is a prime example of simple, interactive content that educates and produces more conversions because it offers a simple number that a B2B buyer can walk away with and have some idea of what the services can do for them.

Interactive content is the content your audience wants but isn’t getting, so take advantage of this opportunity to set your content apart. For more interactive content marketing revelations from the survey, click here to read the full article.

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