B2B consumers have evolved faster in the last three years than at any other time in history.
B2B marketing has shifted to match new consumer demands and behaviors, and now manufacturers, like all businesses, need to adapt to more sophisticated marketing methods to compete and sometimes even survive.
There are many aspects and elements to successful modern B2B marketing, especially B2B digital marketing, that need to be understood before jumping into the deep end and realizing you don’t know how to swim.
Here are some of the most common B2B marketing questions asked by manufacturers at a recent manufacturers’ conference in NJ.
Q. Why is marketing in manufacturing unique?
A. It is and it isn’t.
Buyers have higher motivation than ever, and they are better armed with choices when on the hunt to find the right service. In a B2B space, typically, you have users who are task-driven, research-motivated, and have more choices than ever before. The biggest difference between B2B and B2C is the devices used for research. B2B buyers tend to be methodical and take their time in their research, using a horizontally screened device as opposed to a mobile device, as is prominent in B2C marketing. You would persuade this type of user differently than you would the impulsive B2C buyer. The value propositions, brand tone, educational aspects, content, and elements used to persuade them to take the next step are all different from the B2C counterpart.
What isn’t different is behavior. In B2B or B2C, the persuasive architecture is the same. Our eyes track the same way, we are persuaded by the same elements that persuade elsewhere, and our overall behavior is not going to change as there is no B2B / B2C light switch.
Best practices of sales and conversion still apply. We still need to be where our customers congregate and be part of the conversation they want to have. We have to present value first, represent the brand properly, be in front of those with need at the moment of need, and keep the journey easy and simple, optimizing each step to lead our prospect to success. These are tried-and-true, time-tested, and proven best practices regardless of buyer motivation, device, or category.
Q. What are the greatest challenges in creating a marketing strategy for a manufacturing business?
A. Realizing there is a difference in being found and being chosen, and both need to be part of marketing for marketing to provide a measured return.
Good marketing gets you found; great marketing gets you chosen. A focus on conversion is critical. Strategies need to look more like sales processes than awareness campaigns.
Marketing companies should be asking: Why do people say yes to you, and why do they say no? What do you do better, faster, and more effectively than the competition? In order to successfully persuade a prospect, marketing needs to account for all the underpinnings of a good salesperson. Qualify the right people and disqualify those who are not a fit.
Q. What is a core best practice when it comes to approaching marketing in manufacturing?
A. Understand the mathematics of the perfect customer. Marketing can only succeed if the right message is in front of the right person at the exact time of need. To do this, you need to deeply understand who a customer is and what is the makeup of the perfect customer.
There can be many formulas that determine the best target customer. You may stack-rank each equation, putting the top target in front of others, but the structure is the same. What makes a great customer great? What is the need, where are they located, what type of company, what is their job title, and the list goes on. Whiteboarding the elements that make up the formulas is a helpful exercise and a requirement to being able to target those B2B customers best suited to buy from you.
Q. How do you get past time and budget limitations when it comes to marketing for small/medium-sized manufacturers and B2B organizations?
A. Sales solves all those issues. Work with an agency that can close the loop on revenue born of marketing. When you can, without a shadow of a doubt, determine the actual revenue born of marketing and calculate the exact ROI, you eliminate all questions about the time and budget invested. In terms of time, if revenue increases, it’s worth hiring someone to manage this matter. In terms of budget, if money spent results in more money made, the budget will mathematically never be an issue. Either the investment fits or it doesn’t. Companies that get marketing right find the time and don’t cut budgets.
Q. What is the best advice to manufacturing leaders about how to approach B2B marketing in a volatile economy?
A. Approach marketing with the ability to know. We live in a world of data; data should INSPIRE marketers, not DRIVE choices. Great marketers are under no illusions as to why they exist: to create revenue verifiably born of marketing.
Everything can be measured: Radio, print, web, even billboards! Never accept awareness as the success metric. Awareness is necessary, but it should not compete with winning new business; it should be an ingredient in marketing success, not the goal. Up your game by hiring better marketing agencies that understand the purpose and never stop trying to get you one more lead, one more customer, or one more tick-up on the ROI scale.
What to do next.
Have a discussion with Single Throw Marketing, a digital marketing company that has been getting B2B marketing right for over 22 years.
With manufacturing and B2B marketing clients across North America, the team of expert B2B marketers at this pioneering digital marketing agency understands the B2B category and has a track record of developing ROI-focused, outcome-based marketing that’s both highly targeted and widely measurable.
You can’t manufacture customers, but we can!
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