By: Jamison Hutton
When it comes to B2B businesses, many companies do not put enough importance on the marketing department. Yes, marketing is an essential part of generating leads and customers for a B2B company. However, a lot more emphasis is placed on the sales and business development departments. But if the goal is in growing the company, it more important to give B2B marketers a greater role and responsibility.
Why are B2B Marketers Losing Influence in the Company?
B2B marketers face several challenges when it comes to acquiring leads and customers. For one, they’re often targeting a very small segment of a market that needs their products and services. This means that it takes a lot of time to hone in on the right audience, which results in higher marketing expenses compared to the average B2C company.
Second, the sales cycle is often longer for B2B companies. The process of converting a lead into a customer can often take weeks, even months. Many companies fail to see that this is a natural obstacle that many other B2B companies face. When the marketers are not producing sales within a short timeframe, their role in generating sales is seen as something that’s simply necessary as opposed to a role that’s critical to the success of the company.
Third, marketers are not given enough freedom to extend campaigns to new channels and try new strategies. Companies want to allocate their budget to what they know already produces results and do not want to deviate from existing strategies too much. As a matter of fact, a study showed that companies with higher revenue ($10m and up) place less importance on marketing compared to companies with lower revenue (under $1m).
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B2B Companies Need to Realize the Impact of Great Marketing
Companies need to understand the challenges that their marketing department faces. Instead of placing restrictions on what channels to use, what lead sources to go after, and how to implement marketing campaigns, companies need to give their marketing department room to experiment. Rather than opposing ideas, they should focus on making decisions based on data.
Companies also need to realize that it’s very cost effective to launch campaigns via digital marketing. Advertising platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads offer advanced targeting options. Social media marketing doesn’t require much to get going. Channels like blogs and email are great for developing subscribers and followers. If the B2B company is working with a small budget and wants to use offline channels, it’s a smart idea to start online and funnel the profits into the offline channels.
B2B Marketing Trends that Prove Marketing Should Play a Larger Role
The B2B companies that are really performing well in their respective markets and industries are embracing the latest trends. These trends are starting to shape the B2B model, and companies that are too slow in adopting them will be left behind. Here are some examples of trends that prove marketing should play a larger role and have stronger influence on the rest of the company.
– Account Based Marketing (ABM) –
Instead of sending out mass emails targeting a general audience, B2B companies are embracing. This is not just segmented email marketing. This is a process where the most important accounts are identified and isolated. From there, a hyper personalized campaign is built on both data and behavior. ABM is used in email marketing as well as outreach.
– Content Marketing –
Many B2B companies are seeing great results from content marketing. Creating quality content allows these businesses to establish their brand/positioning, connect with their target audience, and prove their credibility/authority. Engaging prospects through a value driven and educational approach just works better than using push marketing for many B2B companies.
– User/Customer Experience –
The user experience is an important process for both prospects and customers. Everything from the website design, user onboarding, to personal support calls contribute to the overall user experience. Companies also need to focus on the customer experience. This means they need to have a user friendly product, address potential problems before they arise, and offer outstanding customer support.
– Multi-Channel Approach –
Engaging prospects through multiple channels is becoming more important. This means you want to publish content on your blog, provide updates on social media, follow up via email, send direct mail campaigns, and make sales calls. It’s also not just about using these channels randomly. The best results come from integrating these all these channels to extend your reach and create a cohesive marketing campaign.
– Stronger Emphasis on Branding –
With many competing B2B companies, it’s becoming more important to have a branding strategy that establishes a unique identity for your company. You also need it to position yourself in the market properly. As such, it will be important to go back to your business strategy and look at all the important factors such as the target audience, competitive advantage, and pricing.
How Can B2B Marketers Establish a Stronger Role in the Company?
If you’re in the marketing department of a B2B company, you may have to prove your case to increase your budget and have a larger influence in the strategic direction of the company. There are several ways to go about doing this.
Start off by looking at direct competitors and identifying their marketing strategies that your company is not using. If the CEO sees that the competition is getting an edge over your company by doing something different, it’s very likely that you’ll be given more freedom to experiment with different marketing strategies.
Then focus on starting small and moving forward in a data driven manner. If you’re given a $5000 budget to start running LinkedIN ads, the last thing you want to do is sink the entire budget into a few campaigns. It’s a better idea to limit your budget, progress slowly, and let the data determine how to allocate your budget.
Finally, look to connect the integrate different channels for best results. For example, if a user lands on your blog or becomes an email subscriber, you can create a Facebook ad campaign that targets these users. You need to identify opportunities like this that allows you to extend your reach and increase the chances of converting leads into customers.
Other Things that Can Increase Marketing Performance
Getting results from your marketing is more than using a special strategy or expanding to a new channel. It’s also about using the right technology and improving communication between various departments. Let’s start by talking about the impact that switching to an advanced marketing automation platform can have on your marketing.
An advanced marketing automation platform can allow you to collect advanced data and use that data to create hyper personalized campaigns. For example, a platform can help you track behavior data of your prospects. This means that you’ll be able to track what channels they’re visiting, content they’re consuming, emails they’re opening, and more. This data can then be used to build a campaign
In fact, campaigns can be automated based on the behavior of the prospect. If a prospect reads three pieces of content on a particular topic, then future content relevant or similar to these topics can be sent out. If a prospect is looking at different price points, signing up for a free trial, or looking through the FAQ, then a series of emails attempting to close the sale can be made.
The other part is improving the infrastructure and communication of various departments. In this case, the departments that should work closely together is the sales and marketing departments. Marketing data can inform the sales team as to when they should reach out and set up appointments. The sales team can inform the marketing team on why prospects are not buying and what selling points they need to address to better pre-sell prospects.
This communication can be facilitated through various means. Some marketing automation platforms can export data to the sales department. Collaboration platforms can be used to keep the lines of communication open between both departments. Structured meetings between both departments can help them come up with detailed plans, integrate their processes, and keep their goals aligned.
In conclusion, marketers play an important role in the success of the B2B company. Marketing is having a bigger impact on the growth of many B2B companies as channels and strategies slowly mature. Companies cannot be limited to narrow strategies like focusing on a few lead sources and putting these leads through the same customer funnel. They need to expand into different channels, experiment with different strategies, and explore multi-channel integration. They need to give marketers stronger influence on the progression of the company.
About the author
Jamison Hutton is a tech enthusiast and business intelligence consultant. He’s a freelance journalist who loves writing about people’s small business dreams. Jamison resides in Houston, Texas with his wife and son.