One question on the minds of many B2B Marketers right now is whether we should be funding new approaches like AI, VR, AR, or maybe even Tiktok (good god, no!)
My view is to always mainly focus on the stuff that works. And once that’s in place, you can experiment with new ideas. So let’s dive into 3 B2B Marketing strategies that you should double down on this year
B2B decision makers are not easy to reach. They don’t navigate the buyer journey in any linear fashion. There are no patterns of behavior, and they are completely unpredictable. This makes it almost impossible for B2B and tech companies to reach this audience with relevant content.
Don’t worry. This is not another prediction piece boasting the top content marketing trends to look out for this year.
This post is about bringing back the basics. Too many marketers are always looking for the next big thing, yet they haven’t perfected what’s right in front of them. And what’s right in front of them is not that complex.
- Tap into B2B Influencers to support your marketing in authentic ways.
- Since it’s easier and cheaper to keep current customers happy than to acquire new ones, you should refine (or build) strong customer advocacy programs.
- Businesses invest in employee advocacy to expand the reach of their brands on social media, increase employee engagement, and generate new leads.
3 B2B Marketing Strategies to Reinforce This Year
It’s easy for us to think that we need to reinvent our strategies at the start of a new quarter or fiscal year, but have you ever considered that the answers are right under your nose? Maybe you’ve even deployed a few strategies before, but when they didn’t deliver immediate results, you tossed them.
There are tons of marketing strategies, and we’ll be the first to admit that they are not all made equal. Consider taking a step back to reinforce these 3 marketing strategies that may be a bit rusty, but could actually work for you if you’re willing to whip out the WD-40.
1. B2B Influencers
The thing with B2B marketing is that it’s not really a bright and shiny object. It’s not as cool, fun or exciting as let’s say, working with Kim Kardashian or Jared Leto. Don’t expect to see any viral TikTok videos about data centers or enterprise software anytime soon.
But one thing that B2B brands can capitalize on is influence. And understanding influence has a much longer shelf life of value than a viral TikTok video.
Influence is more than just a noun or verb. Influence has the power to separate brand leaders from those who follow, especially when it is applied and becomes ground zero for all marketing.
Stemming from ground zero is B2B influencer marketing and programs like this can be managed in many ways. One of the most important steps in building an influencer program is research and analytics. Influencers just don’t appear overnight or wake up one morning with millions of followers. And even if they did, it wouldn’t mean that they’d be crowned an influencer.
Influencer marketing might not be for you and your brand at the current moment, but influential voices will always matter. And that spans across multiple marketing channels and campaigns.
- The influencer marketing industry reached almost $17B in the year 2022.
- 82% of people trust social networks social networks to guide purchasing decisions.
- 86% of women use social media for purchase advice.
- The return on social media marketing investments have surpassed those of print marketing, and that’s not changing any time soon.
An analysis must happen to identify truly influential voices. Part of that analysis will also uncover the topics and themes that influencers are talking about and how that content is spreading across the digital ecosystem.
Take a look at this buyer journey graph above. At which point do you believe influential voices would play the strongest part: awareness, consideration, interest, or preference?
The answer is all of them. We can’t measure the precise back and forth behavior that each buyer experiences, but planting influencers around your messaging who can speak to your audience’s pain points could benefit you if there’s industry opportunity.
These types of insights can inform all content marketing. The result is brand relevance and search engine visibility. In this case, there is value from using B2B influencers, which could have an everlasting benefit. Some quick ideas:
- Reach out to some analysts for a trends or predictions piece
- Cover the top stories and trends in your industry and mention the influencers who are driving them
- Create a Top Influencers report in your industry report like we did with this one
- Work with a few influencers this year to co-create some content
- Attend influencers webinars and write articles about what they say
Using some of these (mostly free) tips to working with B2B influencers can really help to create some connections while borrowing on their fame.
2. Brand Building to Familiar Faces
The formula is proven and it’s simple. It’s easier and cheaper to keep current customers happy than to acquire new ones. This is such a good marketing lesson yet so many brands don’t prioritize their current customer relationships. They are too focused on customer acquisition.
Building customer advocacy programs seem to be a thing of the past. But here’s the thing, it wasn’t always that way. In the early days of social media, building customer communities was common practice for all brands that had a Facebook page and Twitter account.
It was easier back then because the networks were much smaller back then, and organic reach on social media was 100%. Those were the good old days.
Customer advocacy needs to be both a mindset and a program. If it’s a mindset, then the whole company will build programs, campaigns, products and services, process, and general business practices with a customer-first mentality.
For example, if you infer from the customer journey map that responses to emails and requests for calls pop up 1-2 weeks after a purchase decision, you can begin anticipating your customers’ needs by giving them exactly what they want. But you’ll be beating them to the punch line.
Customer advocacy becomes a part of the cultural DNA. This will make building a customer advocacy program much easier to launch, manage and scale.
The key to building a program rests on the “all too familiar” people, process and technology. From this perspective, people represent the marketing teams responsible for managing the program.
Process is more about the mechanics of the program. It’s building a process on how the program will work, how it will be integrated into other marketing initiatives, how it will be measured and the overall strategic plan.
Technology is the tool or set of tools that will be used to manage the customer community and there are many available on the market.
3. Enabling Employees to be Brand Storytellers
People trust people. It’s a significant part of our human nature. And that means that B2B buyers trust their peers, colleagues, influencers and “people like themselves” when seeking purchase recommendations.
Trust is the reason why people read Yelp reviews before booking a restaurant reservation or lookup the Amazon reviews before purchasing a pair of headphones.
Over the last decade, hundreds of studies and research reports have validated this point. So, when this trust paradigm is applied to B2B marketing, the opportunity to influence purchase behavior becomes real – very real.
This is one reason why building an employee advocacy program is a smart and strategic thing to do, especially for enterprise B2B and tech companies. And while many of these companies do have existing employee programs, there is a lack of innovation when it comes to deployment. They launched the program, checked the box and moved on.
I like to call this Employee Activation because like customer advocacy programs, you need to find ways to get your staff to want to write and share.
How Will You Adapt Your Strategy This Year?
Each of these 3 marketing strategies have one common denominator: people.
Influencers, customers and employees all have a voice. They all have audiences, albeit some smaller than others. And they all have influence.
Customer acquisition is important. Yes, 100%. Content is like gold. Creative messaging and storytelling are also important and play a crucial role in marketing communications. But without the human layer, it goes back to that same marketing that everyone on the planet ignores and calls spam.
What’s next in 2023 is activation. Brands must prioritize each of these internal and external stakeholders and integrate them into existing marketing programs, campaigns, and initiatives.
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