Tag Archives: Buyer Journey

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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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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Building Products Marketers Need Sales to Survive

15 Sep

Sales and Strategy Go Hand In Hand

Business people meeting

What if I told you that all the effort you put into marketing your building products was absolutely useless? What if I told you that no matter how great the creative, how brilliant the strategy, and how alluring the incentive, your approach was doomed to fail?

Because they are—if you fail to incorporate your sales team into your efforts. I’ve written before about how no building products promotion can be effective without buy-in from the sales team. But this applies to more than promotions—it’s your entire marketing strategy and beyond.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review takes that idea to the next level, making an argument I agree with: that sales should be part of every conversation about strategy. All too often, marching orders come down from on high with no real understanding of what is happening to those on the ground pushing the product or services. And the further away the “powers that be” get from customer contact, the more obsolete their strategies can often become.

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from the article:

  • Communication is key: “People can’t implement what they don’t understand.”
  • It doesn’t matter how many emails you send if you don’t engage your sales team as partners: “The process for introducing and reviewing plans often exacerbates the separation of the strategists from the doers. It typically involves a kickoff sales meeting followed by a string of emails from headquarters and periodic reports back on results. There are too few communications, and most are one-way.”
  • If you don’t explain the big picture, they won’t be able to create it: “Even when sales teams are trained in negotiation and selling tactics, the larger strategic context—especially the implications for target priorities—is often left out.”
  • Whose job it is to partner with sales: “Clarifying strategy is a leadership responsibility.”

Click here to read the full article—it’s full of important information that building products marketers should really take into consideration, especially as many of us start to work out the final details of our 2016 planning.

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Not Ready to Speak? Try Listening.

25 Aug

With Building Products Social Media Marketing, Start by Listening

Stock Photo for Blog 8:24

I hear constantly from building product marketers that social media doesn’t apply to their business—that it’s “a B2C thing” or that it’s “for Millennials” and has no use when it comes to generating marketing qualified leads and closing sales. But when someone says this, what they’re really telling me is they’re not ready to use social as a platform to talk. My suggestion is this: if you’re hesitant about incorporating social media into your marketing plan, start instead with listening.

Quick story. I was at a trade show two years ago when a UPS delivery truck left behind a package containing my client’s pop-up booth. While an account coordinator at my agency tried frantically to get through to someone to talk to on the phone, I tweeted at UPS for help.

In the time the UPS social team responded to me, contacted the nearest store manager, and had the truck re-route to come and pick up the package, the account coordinator still hadn’t even reached an actual person on the phone.

These are the kinds of opportunities companies miss when they don’t at least listen to what’s happening in the social space. But there are many more benefits to social listening beyond just customer service. A recent article I read outlined a few that GE Lifesciences experienced when they began using social listening tools to monitor their industry:

  • Understanding language and terminology prospects were using
  • Learning the topics their audience was most interested in and creating content based on this information
  • Creating keyword search repositories for SEO and website taxonomy

Not every building products company is ready for a full social media marketing plan. I get it. 68% of CMOs openly admit their companies aren’t ready to fully incorporate social media into their strategies. But just because you’re not ready to use social as a platform to market your products doesn’t give you a free pass when it comes to listening to what your audience is saying.

At its heart, the building products industry is still about people. And as generational dynamics shift (hint: they’re already shifting), you can bet that those people are going to be on social media. One day social media won’t be optional—start listening now so that when that day comes, your company is prepared to speak.

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I Want B2B Marketers to Talk Dirty

13 Aug

Why Now Is the Time for B2B E-Commerce

notebook with shopping items on online shopping concept

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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