For most marketing professionals who practice in the business-to-business (B2B) arena, it can sometimes feel like you're invisible. While there are thousands of books, conferences, resources and courses for marketing - ie, consumer marketing, there is little educational support and professional development for B2B marketers. Many B2B professionals rely on industry-specific resources or events where they can learn more about, say, oilfield services or aerospace or logistics - or whatever their industry is. For B2B marketers with a cross-industry orientation, though, this is a fractured way to learn. These are the kinds of issues that limit the growth and sophistication of B2B marketing as a function.
So if you're a B2B marketer looking to stay sharp and constantly upgrade your skills, what can you do? Here are 5 ideas:
Convert B2C ideas to work in your B2B context
- Even if the end goals are different – in B2C you are probably more interested in brand awareness and shelf space, whereas in the B2B space you are going to be focused on lead generation – the strategies might still be similar.
Discard whatever doesn’t apply, based on the fundamentals of the B2B realities
- For instance, much of the buzz about the latest social media trend is probably irrelevant in B2B - as of this writing, that would be Pinterest, and that’s probably still not relevant even to most in B2C outside certain industries (tech, design, fashion). Don't be afraid to narrow your social media investment to the channels that your target market decision makers are most likely to use.
Be open to porting over new ideas
- This can be in direct opposition to the point above. You just never know what might have relevance, and casting a fairly wide net in terms of tactics and approaches can be beneficial. For instance, I was recently speaking with someone in the promotional products industry, where visual presentation is critical to creating interest among clients, and they are finding great success on Pinterest - a channel that wouldn't necessarily be relevant in B2B, although still have a strong consumer base.
Network with other B2B marketers
- Especially if you’re in a smaller company, often you are in a small department, or you are the department. It’s so important to find ways to get out there and share stories with others who understand the challenges of marketing in the B2B space – and not necessarily your own industry, either.
Write it yourself
- Sometimes you just won’t find a go-to source online or elsewhere, no matter what you do. Sometimes you just have to sit down and systematically capture what you already know to be true about your situation – you’ll be happy you did, the next time you have to set up a lead generation program or social media strategy.
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