Here's the hard truth: Most B2B marketing is dull. Yet it's also true that companies are working hard to make B2B marketing more inventive. While consumer brands have traditionally been the custodians of customer experience and marketing innovation, CMOs and marketing leaders in the B2B space are working hard to achieve the same wow factor as consumer brands. Thanks to rapid changes in technology, CMOs are learning new strategies to effectively target the right people with a relevant message. Research from the BMA and Forrester Inc. found that 97 percent of B2B marketers are doing things they have never done before as part of marketing, and 34 percent of senior marketers feel "overwhelmed" by change. Clearly, we're in the midst of a B2B marketing revolution.
By leveraging new technologies, companies can break through the noise of boring and self-promoting content, and dispel the following common misconceptions about B2B marketing:
1) B2B Marketing is Disconnected from Buyers. Customers continue to tune out promotional marketing in traditional channels. B2B buyers are responding at rapidly decreasing rates to marketing campaigns because they want content created for their needs. And they want it when they want it, delivered in new and different platforms.
Marketers are responding to the media habits of today's B2B buyer with effective strategies that push aconsistentstream ofcontentmapped to buyer needsacrossall phases of the buying cycle. With compelling stories, B2B marketers are now driving customer engagement earlier in the buying process. As marketers begin to think like publishers, they're saving marketing from declining response rates, unsatisfied customers, and disenfranchised employees.
2) B2B Marketing Isn't Creative. A seemingly "boring" brand can still create interesting and engaging experiences with confidence and creativity. For example, although most people would agree that insurance isn't exhilarating, it is a highly competitive market for brand recognition that requires originality and resourcefulness to stand out from the crowd. Progressive, an insurance company, sets itself apart with a lovable and wildly popular mascot, Flo. The Flo character has amassed 5.3 million Facebook fans and more than 20,000 Twitter followers. What worked for Progressive was turning a typically dry topic into something relatable and intriguing.
At SAP, marketing through original, creative content plays a major role in helping the company get in front of people who aren't familiar with the diversity of SAP's software offerings. The company is using Forbes AdVoice to connect industry expertise with relevant news. More than 40 employees are blogging about non-technical, engaging content from "the reverse psychology of likeability" to the "7 reasons to cut Michael Vick." The blog posts have garnered over 2 million page views, increased SAP's social media presence and visitors to SAP's site, and boosted the number of people who give the company a way to reach them by email.
3) B2B Marketing Sells Business and Functional Value. This is partly true, but B2B brands also sell emotion. According to research from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), B2B brands that can connect with their buyers on an emotional level see more success. B2B buyers who have a "high brand connection" are about 60 percent more likely to consider, purchase, and even pay a premium over the "low brand connection" competition. Additionally, brands that canconnect with their buyers on an emotional levelwill seetwo timesmore impact than B2B marketers who are still trying to sellbusiness or functional value.
In order to make B2B marketing more personal, companies are using open observation of customers to spot non-verbal cues that reveal underlying emotions. Additionally, companies are also crafting brand messages that convey personal value and eliminate internal, technical jargon.
Busting B2B marketing myths is not only a matter of better customer satisfaction and experience; it's also a matter of survival. In our connected, fast-paced world, the B2B companies of the future will be able to dispel marketing misconceptions by understanding and responding instantly to customer needs with relevant messages.