We’re a B to B company and we’re not exciting. Maersk, one of the most successful Business-to-Business brands in the digital world managed their achievement in less than two years. If you’re not familiar with them, they ship containers – they get a box from place A to place B. Are you sure you’re too boring for digital? More than that, Maersk’s own social media community found that because they had thought of themselves as boring before, they lived up to their own expectations (Katona and Sarvary, 2014: 148).
Does your digital marketing strategy leverage Big Data?
You can tell, by the use of capital letters, that Big Data means something important. In layman’s terms, it means using the information available from platforms like Google Analytics, Search Console and Google Trends to design and improve your own content. Nowadays, the average B2B buyer is changing the way they interact with businesses, no longer following the expected paths. By using the data available to you, you can uncover these new processes and discover buyers and buyer trends you weren’t even aware of (Lingquist et al, 2015) – increasing your bottom line.
Watch a quick video:
Has Big Data got you scratching your head in wonder? Here’s a few ideas from Hubspot
Ready for a challenge? Can you look into your customer relationship management (CRM) system and extract the most popular items across three key industries for your business and the average price they are sold for?
Is your marketing mix orientated to selling a solution?
Of course you’re excited about your product. The R&D and the marketing team have spent countless hours to bring together this gem of innovation. But the problem is, your customer doesn’t care. They have their own processes and their own products to be selling, they don’t have the time and energy to get excited about a small cog in their production. But what if you spoke about reducing mistakes on the production line and trackability for the eventuality of a product recall?
Here’s a video that drives the point home:
Are you targeting marketing goals for interacting with your digital audience?
Digital advertising hasn’t been about merely pushing press release since Web 1.0, so why should your digital presence be any different? Millennials have grown up with the digital equivalent of a megaphone in their pocket, with the ability to broadcast their opinion to anyone willing to listen (Labrecque et al, 2013: 257). Considering the “supermarket” nature of digital selling and the downward pressure on price as all goods become commodities, an easy method to step around the issue is to empower the consumer. How? By co-creating and inviting them to become a part of the product development process. This has traditionally increased demand for the final product (Labrecque et al, 2013: 260). At Atlas Copco, for example, we ran a photo competition, inviting our Facebook fans to show us where they met our products.
See, for example, Walkers’ “Choose me or loose me campaign”
And watch the reaction of this popular Youtuber:
Ready for a challenge? Have you considered reaching out to influencers of the industries most important for your business and building digital content with them? Confident about what you make? Ask them to put your product to the test for all their fans to see.
Does your digital marketing involve personalizing content for the visitors?
More like a sub-point of the earlier question on Big Data, but have you considered the journey a visitor makes on your website? Or when they interact with your brand in general. Google Analytics, GPS and IP tracking technology (Henning-Thurau, 2010: 312) allow you to identify the general location of a website visitor; have you ever built specific pages with personalized content for your most popular areas? Is your visitor just another number, or do they feel special and valued? Does your content change based on whether they have visited your site before?
Watch a short introduction to the core tenets of personalization:
Ready for a challenge? Try a web personalising software such as Adobe Target to change the landing page of a popular product based on whether the visitor has seen the page before or not.
Do you give your visitors a good reason to pay attention to your brand?
With the way technology has been developing, people are no longer interested in being treated as a recipient for advertising and product placement. Digital marketing means digital conversations and appealing to the human element. Your company can no longer afford to be the same across all channels, nor to push only corporate messages. It’s time to dust the history books and dig out the stories that speak about people, while offering the content they expect to see on the platforms you use. Maersk, for example, learnt by trial and error that Facebook users expect different things than Twitter or LinkedIn users (Katona and Sarvary, 2014: 150).
This Forbes article gives a few examples on how you could work to humanise your brand.
Ready for a challenge? Do you ever involve your company in community projects? Do you speak about them? See this example of community work from an Atlas Copco distributor in the UK.
So, five questions down, what’s the last one? The last question asks for a bit of thinking outside the box. As far back as 2006, Wind noted that the Internet started a merging of B2C and B2B (Wind, 2006: 475), and we see proof of it today. The typical buyer in business-to-business purchasing uses approximately six channels, and more than half of them go away frustrated by inconsistent experiences (Lingquist et al, 2015).
Therefore, should we still focus on “business-to-business” and “business-to-consumer”? Even though the processes are different, we are still humans dealing with other humans. How about this key marketing concept: not B2B selling, not B2C selling, but H2H – human-to-human selling.
Hennig-Thurau, T., Malthouse, E.C., Friege, C., Gensler, S., Lobschat, L., Rangaswamy, A. & Skiera, B. (2010) The Impact of New Media on Customer Relationships, Journal of Service Research, vol.13, no.3, pp.311-330
Katona, Z. & Sarvary, M. (2014) Maersk Line: B2B SOCIAL MEDIA—“IT’S COMMUNICATION, NOT MARKETING”, CALIFORNIA MANAGEMENT REVIEW, vol. 56, no.3, pp.143-156
Labrecque, L.I., vor dem Esche, J., Charla Mathwick, C., Novak, T.P. & Hofacker, C.F. (2013) Consumer Power: Evolution in the Digital Age, Journal of Interactive Marketing vol. 27, pp. 257–269
Lingqvist, O., Plotkin, C., & Lun Stanley, J. (2015) Do you really understand how your business customers buy?, McKinsey Quarterly, vol. 2015 1st Quarter, no.1, pp.74-85
Wind,Y. (2006) Blurring the lines: is there a need to rethink industrial marketing?, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 21, no. 7, pp.474 – 481
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