Business-to-business marketing and relationship building

Good business relationships are built on trust.

Good business relationships are built on trust.

The longer the sales cycles, the more important the relationship becomes

Business-to-business marketing has always been about establishing a relationship with the prospect. One reason for this is most considered purchases involve multiple parties, resulting in extended sales cycle time. With the new technology of programmatic buying and selling of digital advertising inventory, ad technology companies would like for you to believe that a constant barrage of banner ads will substitute for a relationship built on trust.

Opening doors for new business

We all rely on new business to keep our companies growing and profitable. Yet in today’s automated marketing environment, it seems that the value of relationship building (people talking to each other) has been deemed as inefficient and replaced with marketing automation platforms and churn-out emails.

To a degree, all B-to-B marketers rely on automation. The problems begin when marketers rely too much on automation and start viewing opens and click-through rates as a substitute for a person-to-person conversation.

Some sales people only want to invest their time with those who are ready to purchase. I can identify with this viewpoint; no one wants to waste his or her time on a deal that is going nowhere. But the issue remains that in the B-to-B sales environment, it can take months for a purchasing decision to be made, and during this time it can be affected by a multitude of external factors. The relationship is developed during this period as the sales person educates and counsels the prospect as to the advantages and positive results that their product offering will have on their business.

That is where the relationship comes in

Good business relationships are built on the following:

  • Trust
  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Communication
  • Business understanding
  • Anticipating needs
  • Delivering on the promise

There are also intangibles that go into a good business relationship, like understanding the person’s value system, as well as their background, goals, personality traits, and expectations.

This is the essence of people-to-people marketing and relationship building.

We all know the sales funnel cycle – awareness, interest, evaluation, trail, and adoption. The digital marketing environment is focused on the first three – awareness, interest, and evaluation – because it is transactional and therefore can be tracked using analytics. However, it takes a conversation leading to a relationship to move through trial and adoption.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why Business-to-Business Marketing is Transforming to People-to-People Marketing

Do your customers suffer from “E-fluenza”?

Why bother with branding?

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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Social media content strategy

Social media content, when used as an integrated marketing tool, can extend the reach of advertising.

Why platform selection affects the quality and quantity of social media content

Social media, love it or leave it, is hard to get away from. What started as digital networks where like-minded users could connect and share information has grown into a multi-billion dollar network catering to sophisticated brand advertising and user generated content.

Platform selection influences quality of social media content

B-to-B brands seeking to use social media for engagement need to understand the strengths and limitations of their selected social platform. Where Facebook is perceived as a more B-to-C retail platform, there are numerous examples where B-to-B brands have used the platform to connect with rural outlying communities where their facilities are located.

Each platform has its own particular tone and style. Understanding this allows for social media content to be developed to show a more human side of the brand or a more technical competency based on the objectives of the social media effort.

Objectives can include the following:

  • Community relations
  • Recruitment
  • Health and safety
  • Product comparison
  • Thought leadership
  • New product introduction
  • Forwarding of content via social network
  • New business inquiry

Achieving any of the above identifies content that is conceptually sound, produced with a purpose, and deemed valuable by its intended audience.

Content that lacks strategic direction is hastily cobbled together, short on authenticity, and not tied to a specific objective is probably a waste of time and resources.

Key take away: Having a platform presence without a strategy is not sustainable and will quickly lead to abandonment.

Integrating social media content with other marketing tools

Social media content, when used as an integrated marketing tool, can extend the reach of advertising. This complementary function is much like the support of public relations. Done correctly, social media content can capture an influencer’s attention, leading to additional content generated with the appearance of endorsement.

Key take away: Social media content is a complementary tool not intended to carry the entire marketing load.

How much social media content is needed to be effective?

The internet is a content eating machine. In order to stand out in the sea of sponsored display advertising and user generated content, advertisers should be prepared for a long term commitment to social media content development and treat it with an evergreen journalistic approach.

Key take away: The best strategy is to develop a library of content that has a long shelf life.

Social media has its limitations

The one thing social media can’t do is provide sustainable scale. By its very nature, it is fragmented – subject to the reader’s value system and point of view. Accuracy of regenerated content cannot be guaranteed and may do more harm than good.

The use of social media by B-to-B brands is accelerating. Taking a strategic approach to integrating social media into the marketing mix requires creativity and a willingness to try something different.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

How to engineer a social marketing strategy

How to write effective online copy

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

People-to-People Marketing: Engage, Connect, Influence

There has been a seismic explosion in the channels and tools marketers are using to influence purchasing decisions.

There has been a seismic explosion in the channels and tools marketers are using to influence purchasing decisions.

The goal for P-to-P marketing is to engage decision makers and influence their purchasing decision

If you feel a little out of touch with the whole marketing ecosystem today, don’t feel alone. There has been a seismic explosion in the channels and tools marketers are using to influence purchasing decisions. Now, effective marketing is a mash-up of traditional B-to-B and digital P-to-P strategies with tactical execution determined by company size and where the buyer to be reached spends the most time.

Content everywhere but what do buyers find most useful?

Content can take many forms. Eccolo Media, in collaboration with market-research firm Global Marketing Insite (GMI), with recently published the Eccolo Media 2014 B2B Technology Content Survey Report identifying categories for marketing collateral and what technology buyers in small, medium, and large companies consume when making considered purchase decisions.

16 forms of marketing collateral were identified:

• White papers
• Product brochures
• Case studies
• Technology guides
• Video and multimedia files
• Blog articles
• Infographics
• Webinars
• E-books
• Podcast, audio files
• Magazines and publications
• Competitive vendor worksheets
• E-newsletters
• Social networks
• Web slide show
• Tweets

Content consumption in the sales cycle

Breaking down the sales cycle into 4 phases to identify the most effective forms of content that buyers found useful:

Pre-sale (unaware of the problem) – Blogs, infographics
Initial sale (understands the problem) – White papers, case studies, video and multimedia files
Mid-sale (identifying solutions & selecting vendors) – Case studies/success stories, technology guides
Final sale (finalizing vendor and purchasing solution) – Technology guides, implementation scenarios

Relevant and high quality content plays a critical role in the purchasing decision. Marketers that understand this have the opportunity to engage, connect, and influence buyers throughout the purchasing process.

Social networks – perception and reality

Social networks are prime territory for distributing content. Determining which social platform to concentrate on for content distribution can be influenced by the size of the company you are trying to reach. Small and mid-size companies lean more toward Facebook, while larger companies consume more content from LinkedIn.

Twitter is also a viable network for reaching influencers and purchasers. Click-through rates from vendor posts are increasing because the short burst of information is usually accompanied by a link to a larger content library.

Blogs are also influential in the pre-sale phase to identify problems, bringing them to the surface for consideration.

One thing to remember is that with so much content available, buyers are becoming more selective in deciding which content is worthy of their time. Because buyers choose the time and place for receiving marketing content, formatting for desktop, tablet, and smart phone enhances the buyer’s experience.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why people-to-people marketing is replacing business-to-business in the aviation industry

Content development for aviation marketers is a communal affair

Getting social media to pay off

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Image credit: buchachon / 123RF Stock Photo