One of the challenges that small and mid-sized B2B companies face when it comes to marketing is keeping up with the times. The changes in how people and businesses communicate with each other have been dramatic in the last 5 years. Many communications tools that are basics now didn’t exist 5 and 10 years ago. They certainly weren’t used by companies as core components of their marketing functions. The good news is that these tools make it much easier for companies to tell their story, to stay on the radar of their prospects, and to demonstrate the quality of their solutions and people.
If there is one new marketing tool that tops all the others for B2B companies, it’s video. B2B companies often face the challenge of communicating their complex solutions to complex problems, in simple terms. Video allows them to do that. In a 2-minute clip a company’s CEO can give an overview of their capabilities and experience, define the benefits they provide and the customers they serve. They can convey both the technical abilities of the company as well as the people behind the company – and begin the process of relationship building with prospects. From just a short video a prospect can get far more information – and achieve a far higher level of understanding – than with any other tool.
For extremely complex businesses, where the solutions include multiple integrated components, animated video paints the picture of the solution. As they say, a picture says a thousand words – on that basis a video says 100,000 or more. There are many forms of video B2B companies can use – an overview video that describes your company, its solutions and markets; a product demonstration that highlights the technical capabilities and applications of specific products or services, a recruiting video to attract the talent you seek, a video case study in which a customer describes their experience with your company, a video blog, and many more.
If you’re a B2B company with an emerging technology or a complex solution, video is your best opportunity in 2012 to enhance your ability to communicate your message.
2. Lead nurturing
The sales funnel is broken. Customers no longer buy in nice, clean stages through a known buying process. Sales people are no longer in control of the information that a prospect obtains on a particular solution, and when they obtain it.
As a result, many organizations are implementing automated lead nurturing processes. There are a few different names for the same concept (drip marketing, lead nurturing and marketing automation, among others) – the idea that potential buyers are looking for information on your solution / product / service (often online) and smart companies can provide that information all the while tracking unique prospects’ information consumption to gain powerful insight into an individual customer’s level of interest. Does a prospect land on your website through a paid-advertisement, do they download a whitepaper and sign up for your newsletter and an upcoming webinar? If so, they’re a hot prospect for a sales call. Do they land on your website and download the whitepaper but that’s all? If so, perhaps they’re just beginning evaluating options and a follow-up email the next day is a better way to start building a relationship.
There are myriad systems on the market to help companies effectively nurture leads – Eloqua, Marketo, Silverpop, Pardot, LeadLander and literally dozens of others. The system a company chooses needs to be an informed choice between functionality and implementation ease. Some systems necessitate dedicated technical experts while others can be set up and maintained by a staff of dedicated – but lay – people.
Whichever the case, Lead Nurturing systems are powerful tools to help B2B companies nurture prospects and dramatically increase both the quantity and quality of the leads given to sales.
3. SEO-Optimized websites
Websites began as brochure-ware and evolved to a combination of effective content with navigation. Most companies upgraded their websites in the 2002 – 2008 timeframe to reflect the changes in web behaviour that took place in that period, and ensure that their sites not only had good content, but were easy to navigate too.
Now websites have entered the next phase. Neither looks nor navigation make a website successful. Today, the most important characteristic is a website’s ability to ‘get found’. Search engines process billions of requests each day, and it is the ‘get found’ properties of websites – their level of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – that rates a site as effective or not.
When was the last time your company overhauled its site? How does it rank on search terms that matter in your market? If you haven’t addressed the necessity of SEO, it’s essential in 2012 to revisit your site.
These 3 marketing tools represent incredible potential for B2B marketers. If you’d like to explore other tools and tactics that will work for your company in 2012, please contact Amanda Steeves.