The world has changed and so must B2B marketers. In the past, sales teams relied on cold calling and email campaigns to get their message out. Today, customers oftentimes find businesses with the help of search engines, social media platforms and review sites. And this means that B2B companies need to rethink their marketing strategies.
The landscape of B2B marketing has changed dramatically. The emergence of the digital economy has brought new buying demographics and new buying behaviors to the forefront.
The rise of e-commerce has led to a shift in the way companies transact business. The traditional “sales” model is giving way to a more consultative approach, which enables companies to offer products that are better suited for their customers’ needs.
This shift has created an opportunity for marketers who can provide valuable insights into how customers want to interact with their brands, and help them deliver relevant content at the right time.
How is B2B marketing evolving?
B2B marketing is evolving in a manner that is similar to how B2C marketing evolved. For decades, marketing efforts were focused on branding, reaching the highest possible number of people, and appealing to their emotions. However, as consumers became more savvy and grew tired of being sold to all the time, they began to adopt the practice of doing their own research and making informed buying decisions.
As consumers are now cutting out the middlemen, business-to-business companies are feeling pressure to reach buyers directly. In order to do so, they’re moving away from mass advertising and broad-marketing tactics and using more microtargeted marketing.
The Internet and the mobile revolution have made it easier for people to shop and buy directly from websites. Consumers expect immediate gratification and convenience when making purchases. “It’s a real shift in how the world operates,” said Patrick Kelly of Homepolish, “The OLD way was that you would get your product to a big company who would then sell it through retailers. Now with these companies like Amazon and Etsy, the big companies are getting their product through direct sales. I think that’s a really interesting shift.”
Spearheaded by e-commerce companies like Amazon, which is working to reduce its sellers’ reliance on wholesale distributors; companies are building direct-to-consumer business models. “It used to be such a long process, spending so much time and effort to get something on store shelves,” says Brynn Kramer of Denver-based Coborn Housewares. “Now you can just take your product online and start selling it to people right away.”
Create Self-serve digital channels
Digital distribution channels have helped streamline online marketing and customer service. With self-serve platforms, companies can easily manage their own e-commerce platforms, social media pages, and customer service accounts. This also means that customers can get instant answers to their questions or order products without having to wait for a human representative.
Digital distribution channels have made it easier for online companies to reach their customers. The use of digital marketing channels has allowed e-commerce companies to grow their market share and expand into new markets. Companies can use these same channels to connect with customers, collect valuable customer data, and improve their customer service experience. With more focus on inbound marketing companies are adopting pull strategy over push. Inbound marketing is the process of attracting and engaging customers through content marketing, search engine optimization, blogging, social media integration, email marketing or other online promotion activities.
The future of selling is personal
Retailers are changing their selling strategies, moving away from traditional push marketing to more personalized selling strategies. The future of B2B selling is no different. If a company is not already investing in building lasting, personal relationships with their customers, they are missing out on an opportunity to differentiate themselves and build a competitive advantage.
The time for one-way communication is over. Personalization and meaningful conversations are the future of B2B sales. The buying patterns and demographics of companies are changing due to digitalization and the digital-first economy. Thus, companies must have a customer segmentation strategy in place to cater to the diverse needs of their customers. This will help them understand their customers better, target them more effectively, and increase sales.
Create engaging and useful content
In the past, B2B marketing was always limited by the budgets of small companies. Now there are a few trends in B2B marketing that are changing things up. First, marketers have shifted their focus from quantity to quality, which is an effect of the B2B purchase cycle being shortened and more content being created by consumers. Second, marketers are now starting to use digital media more in order to deliver their message and connect with consumers. When the buying journey is non-linear prospects engage with various forms of content — right from the research & discovery phase to even post-purchase testimonials. Deploy smart content marketing to get them into the funnel and keep them engaged to improve LTV.
The shift from products to experiences
The shift from products to experiences is a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s becoming more and more prevalent as we enter the age of emerging technology. It’s no longer enough to sell products; you need to create experiences that bring value to your customers.
The rise of experience-driven brands and the decline of product-centric ones is often attributed to millennials’ preference for experiences over stuff. But this trend isn’t just about a generation that prefers to spend money on experiences rather than things like cars, homes and jewelry. It’s about the fact that as consumers become more educated, informed and demanding, they expect more from brands and retailers than ever before.
Influencers and Partnership Marketing
Influencers and partnerships are two of the most effective ways to reach B2B buyers. They allow you to tap into the trust that your audience has with industry experts or people similar to them in their role or company size. Influencers can help you build credibility, establish thought leadership and increase brand awareness — all things that are crucial when trying to win over new customers. In fact, research by Edelman found that 72% of people trust recommendations from brands they know and trust over those from companies they don’t know as well
Offer Modular Solution
Go modular! Instead of selling a complete solution allow flexibility for customers to choose from various components. This also allows customers to pick and choose what they need, instead of having to buy a complete solution from you. Don’t just offer a set configuration, but allow customers to pick and choose components based on their needs. This works especially well when you are selling software as a service or offering modular products that are built with open-source technologies.
Even manufacturing companies have partnered with other companies to offer modular solutions. For example, a company like Dell can partner with a manufacturer of servers to offer a complete solution. This allows them to compete against other companies in the market, while still offering their customers something unique. A manufacturing company may partner with a design firm to offer complete modular kitchens. In this case, the manufacturing company would handle the production of all the individual parts that make up the kitchen, while the design firm would handle the creation of an attractive and functional layout for those parts.
Decisions Powered by Data
Marketers need to understand how customers make decisions about buying, who they are, and what motivates them to buy. They also need to know how different demographic groups respond differently to different types of messages from brands. As a result, B2B marketers are using data analytics tools like social listening platforms and customer experience programs to better understand consumer behavior and how they interact with brands online.
This allows them to develop more targeted, personalized messaging that resonates with their audience. By leveraging these insights for marketing automation, B2B marketers can streamline processes such as lead generation and sales follow-up while increasing conversion rates.
With the constant changes happening in the B2B marketing industry, you need to stay ahead of the curve to keep up with changing buyer habits, new technologies, and evolving buyer preferences. That’s why it’s important to revamp your B2B marketing strategy every now and then.