Demand generation is a key focus for any business. In the B2B space this issue faces a unique set of problems. The B2B buying cycle is much longer, the purchase carries with it more responsibility and risk, and a smaller market of consumers. Add to that the fact that traditional marketing methods have had a dwindling success rate. What is a B2B marketer to do?
Follow your buyer
This is an unavoidable fact of business. If you want to grow your sales you need to generate demand. You can only generate demand if your intended audience gets to see you and your message. The statistics overwhelmingly show that people across every age group are spending an increasing amount of time online and particularly on social media platforms.
In the B2B space most of us define our customers by industry, company size and other related demographics. What we forget is that behind all this is the person or group of people who source for, research the options, and manage the purchases for businesses. These are the same people who are spending more of their time online looking for relevant expertise and peer endorsements when making their purchase decisions. In short while you shouldn’t dive in without a thought you should be looking at a social media presence as part of your marketing strategy as having a website just isn’t enough anymore.
Be the “trusted advisor”
In this information overload generation all buyers are looking for a trusted resource from which to get their information. Sharing your expertise openly is fast becoming the direction in which businesses have to move if they want to stay competitive. Its not enough to say you’re good at your job you have to prove it – preferably have it validated by others as well. Being a trusted advisor not only assists with demand generation but customer retention as well which as statistics show is a huge cost saving for your business as generating a new customer typically costs 5 times more, in terms of finances and time spent cultivating the sales, than customer retention.
Social media seems the most obvious answer but not every business is ready or willing to go in that direction. Do remember that while the idea of embarking on social media seems easy a poorly thought-out and executed strategy by your business can have lasting and immediate effects amongst your buyers. Start off with having your experts write whitepapers and offer them free to your customers on how to use and maximise their goals with your products and services. For the more adventurous you can start your own corporate blog and increase the level of interaction by inviting reader comments and starting conversations with your audience. Listen and act on your audience recommendations where possible and where you are unable to do explain why.
Learn from the Others
There are a wealth of marketing experts now going online and sharing their expertise with a worldwide audience. Subscribe to their blogs and twitter. The insight and experience they share may not all be applicable to your business but it provides you with general, and oftentimes highly valuable, guidelines on how to navigate marketing in this ever-changing landscape. Take a peak at what your competitors are doing right and think about how you can revise your strategy.
The marketing arena is changing and B2B marketers have to keep pace if they want to sustain and grow their business.