Making B2B marketing ideas travel: how to engage, nurture and sell
Posted on 5th September 2016 by Lauren Greatorex
The theme of the talk, and this blog, is that external comms teams should be ideas-led in the way they communicate. In B2B, it’s all too easy to sound the same as the competition (after all, our products and services vary very little) – we can’t all be the ‘leading’ supplier!
To beat the competition, we need to talk about what we enable, not what we sell and capitalise on what makes our business different. This means harnessing the inherent, unique knowledge inside your organisation (in old marketing materials, in databases, in proposals or web copy, and most importantly – in the minds of the company’s experts) to play to the business’ strengths and promote a problem you solve.
There are three tests of a good content marketing idea – it must make people THINK, FEEL and DO. Essentially, it needs to be original (to make them think and take notice), relevant to the audience (to create an emotional connection – business people are humans too!), and provoke an interaction or a sale (after all, that’s the only reason we’re here). You can find out more on that, and generating commercially-effective ideas, via this link.
Content led? That’s just common sense.
‘Content marketing’ is just the latest in a long line of marketing buzzwords associated with this approach. The phrasing may be a fad but it’s common sense really – we all know that taking a content-led approach is highly effective for inbound, nurturing prospects, and generally driving engagement.
However, it only works if the content you create is based on a sound strategy and laser-targeted at your customer. Think of a simplified buyer journey – split into early (awareness), middle (evaluation), late (purchase). Some prospects will go straight for a sale, while others will stay stuck in the early stages.
It’s a marketer’s job to push prospects along by demonstrating the company’s insight and expertise – this means creating content for every stage of the journey and selling through education, not cold product offers.
Many of us are probably already focused on raising awareness and encouraging prospects to buy via a campaign launch, but it doesn’t stop there. There are three further opportunities for us to create content further down the funnel:
- Moving the conversation forward and nurturing prospects (with relevant, educational content).
- Supporting sales approaches (e.g. with reports and online tools).
- Helping salespeople to sell with meeting resources (like toolkits and conversation guides).
As marketers we can have a direct impact on almost all of the buyer journey:
- To support at the middle (evaluation) stage: we need to give sales teams the ammunition they need to offer solutions to prospects’ problems and challenges as well as helping them identify forthcoming challenges and opportunities that prospects are not yet aware of.
- At the late (purchase) stage: we need to support sales teams with content that aligns with our services and demonstrates existing success and proven results.
This doesn’t mean creating endless new materials, but rather being considered about the ones you do create and repeating some formats (e.g. tailored blogs) at several different buying stages. Ask yourself “will this content help engage your internal teams and nurture prospects?” and “which stage of the buyer journey will it work for?” (a workbook with more tips and advice can be found here).
The aim of the game is to enable interaction and profitable conversations. In this competitive climate, where everyone is focused on content creation, the only way your business can stand out, and win, is by being the best at articulating your thinking.
This post is part of Man Bites Dog’s ‘No Contest’ blog series on developing long-running marketing, PR and sales programmes that sell, and are driven by compelling content.