Tag Archives: b2b vendors

I Want B2B Marketers to Talk Dirty

13 Aug

Why Now Is the Time for B2B E-Commerce

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There’s a dirty word in the world of B2B marketing. A word that strikes fear in the hearts of B2B marketers and sales people everywhere. It’s a word many are afraid to say, but not me.

I’m talking about e-commerce. (See? Told you—not afraid.)

Many B2B companies—and marketers, for that matter—are hesitant about e-commerce. How will it impact my business? How do I implement it? Whose feathers will I ruffle in the process? What will be the repercussions if I spend money on an expensive system and it fails?

These are important questions, and yes, there are a lot of those complications to consider. But this article makes a compelling case for B2B e-commerce by talking about how a luxury sunglass maker deployed an e-commerce portal for their 2,000+ wholesale clients and saw sales increase by 35%.

And guess what? It’s not just sunglasses; it’s building products, too. I can go to BuildDirect.com and order a pallet of vinyl siding right now. On the industrial side, Grainger is closing in on about 40% online sales—and with Grainger, we’re talking billions of dollars. Whatever your industry, you can no longer say e-commerce has nothing to do with you.

As more and more Millennials move into B2B buyer roles in the next 5 years or so (and yes, there are many who already are in buyer roles—my business partner Renae wrote about that here) it will be important for B2B companies to have some sort of e-commerce system in place. The companies above are proof that there is not only customer demand for these systems, but lucrative and untapped sales opportunities to be had by adopting them.

And for B2B companies hesitant and worried about the complications surrounding a B2B e-commerce portal, perhaps now is the time to work out those kinks. Because this issue is not going away, and I predict it will very quickly change from “something to do tomorrow” to “something that should have been done yesterday.”

Granted, I’m not a fortune teller. I don’t read palms, tea leaves, or crystal balls. But this is less an act of looking through the fog to predict a far-away future than it is looking both ways before you cross the street—it’s not down the line; it’s right in front of us.

So say that “dirty word” and say it often. I promise no one will tell your mom.

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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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Content Your Audience Wants But Isn’t Getting

23 Jul

Is Your Content Passive or Interactive?

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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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