May 07 2018
There was a time not so long ago when the absolute best marketing a company could employ was B2B sales outreach. Back then, a determined sales team could cold-call hundreds of leads, deliver a well-crafted pitch, and close more than enough deals to make the company profitable. Throw in some client appreciation retreats and liquor lunches, and word of mouth would do the rest.
Those days are gone.
For starters, the B2B sales professional who can successfully make cold calls is a dying breed. If you have a person like that on your team, hang on to them! Those skills are still critical. But the sad fact is that cold calls have fallen out of favor with customers. These days there are dozens of ways to avoid cold callers, and most salespeople don’t like to do it anyhow – so consequently they aren’t very good at it.
The “one-size-fits-all” sales pitch is also a thing of the past. Broad positioning statements and boastful feature-benefit presentations have been replaced with tailor-made account-based sales techniques and inbound lead nurturing that aligns the value of your product with the specific needs of each customer – usually without the assistance of a salesperson in any way.
For business owners in industries who for decades have relied on traditional sales methods, the new age of B2B sales is frustrating at best. Given that each year approximately 50% of all B2B sales teams miss their quotas, it’s high time that companies take a new look at how marketing can help companies close more deals.
Why People Hate Marketing
If you ask the owner of a small to mid-sized business (SMB) what they like most about marketing, you’ll probably get a sarcastic answer to the effect of, “Nothing”.
If you probe the answer deeper you’ll discover that most business owners don’t understand modern (aka digital) marketing. They don’t trust it, and they don’t like dedicating so much budget to a strategy that isn’t yet proven. They’ve bought into the lie that marketing doesn’t work and is really just a non-billable waste of time.
We can’t completely blame the business owner for this deep cynicism. Many marketing teams struggle to demonstrate ROI or clearly illustrate how their efforts lead to conversions – or even assist the company’s goals. This is due, in part, to a breakdown in communication during the strategic phases for setting goals and defining success.
There are also disconnects between the sales team and marketing team whereby each is operating in a silo rather than providing the necessary feedback loop to optimize campaigns. It’s always been our belief that you should tear down these walls if you want to experience greater success throughout the company.
Finally, to bring it back to the budget, marketing is like most complex systems. It requires an upfront investment to set up a successful strategy. You can’t reasonably expect to generate millions of dollar in revenue if you take too lean of a marketing approach. The initial time investment and setup costs alone are sometimes more than a business owner will stomach. But wait, there’s more!
There are maintenance costs – for when steps in the process don’t work as planned or experience setbacks beyond anyone’s control. There are additional costs – for when you suddenly decide to start a new campaign that wasn’t part of the original plan. There are costs to recreate the entire strategy if/when your team decides to go in a completely new strategic direction. Business owners already experience enough “nickel and dime” pressures thanks to taxes, fees, permitting, labor costs, and overhead. However, no one likes to spend additional money on something they already don’t understand or trust.
What Sales Wants From Marketing
So, what can marketing do to help the sales team?
If the question is left up to business owners the answer would be more conversions, bigger deals, smaller budgets, and less competition. Not surprisingly, salespeople answer the question differently. They want:
- More qualified leads
- Better messaging
- Stronger marketing materials and collateral
- More case studies and content
- Greater representation at industry events
These are completely understandable. Salespeople want to spend their time with prospects who are actually prepared to buy, instead of spinning their wheels with people who give false promises or disappear shortly after a proposal.
They also want help discussing the features and benefits of their products, specially tailored to each account. That “discussion” involves a significant amount of storytelling about the company’s brand, successes, and subject matter expertise. If you remember, salespeople are not engineers (or scientists, architects, technicians, etc). But they desperately want to sound like one in order to effortlessly move the sales process forward.
What Sales Also Needs From Marketing
Let’s start with some painful stats:
Only 3% of buyers think salespeople are trustworthy. Ouch. We can thank the bad rap on decades of bad salespeople, scammers, and negative portrayals in movies. Unfortunately, no matter how polished the approach it’s not enough to just have “better messaging”, “more collateral” and “greater representation”.
57% of buyers are less dependent on sales people. Thanks to the internet all of the information is (or should) be freely available to educate the buyer as they move through the awareness and discovery phases. Buyers want to educate themselves before they speak with a salesperson. As the numbers show, this is because they feel too often that salespeople only talk about things that pertain to the sale versus the things that matter to the buyer. As a result, 60% of buyers prefer to speak to a salesperson during the consideration phase, whereas another 20% prefer to wait until they’re ready to make a decision.
72% of companies with less than 50 deals a month did not achieve their revenue objectives. Let that sink in for a moment If you’re the owner of a B2B SMB. “We need more leads” makes a ton of sense.
Sales teams need a greater volume of educated and informed buyers who trust the company BEFORE they ever speak to a salesperson. You won’t get that from the traditional B2B sales model. Only marketing can do that.
Setting up demand generation methods across a variety of marketing platforms allows a company to funnel buyers to various content sources and guide them through the awareness and discovery phase. Along the way they can choose if and when to contact the company to “learn more” or “register now”, but bringing the buyer back into the funnel during consideration is where the most opportunities for salespeople occur. Once the buyer initiates the sales process, salespeople can THEN use all of the great messaging and marketing materials to guide the buyer through to close.
Learn To Love Marketing
Marketing costs money. Marketing takes time. Marketing requires communication and involvement from stakeholders and the sales team. It is what it is. But if you approach the process with the clear intent of giving your sales team the advantage to close more prequalified deals then the benefits of marketing are obvious. The ROI is less about B2B sales directly attributed to marketing and more about empowering companies to efficiently close more deals.
Divining Point is a marketing agency that enables companies to take control of their brand and build greater demand for their products and services. If your company is struggling to tell its story and lure buyers to the table, then call us today.
Apr 24 2018
Digital marketing is competitive. Infographics are a great way to share your information in a new, distinctive, way. They’re essentially detailed information, or data turned into easy-to-read graphics.
When to use Infographics
B2B companies, such as engineers, manufacturers, tech companies, and more, can use infographics to provide a visual aid to their often complex, highly technical, expertise. For example, if your company dedicated time and effort to conduct a study for a research paper, that data would be well suited as an infographic.
Why use Infographics
- People love visuals
- The brain processes visual information faster than text, thus infographics make it easier for the viewer to comprehend. Also, bright colors and charts are more likely to grab someone’s attention than a big block of text.
- Easily shared
- Infographics are popular for sharing on social media; it’s easier to download and repost an image than a body of a text from a blog. Additionally, infographics draw more attention on image-focused platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.
- Good for gated content
- Every good marketer knows that leads drive business. One of the best ways to capture leads is to share content on your website in exchange for contact information. This is called “gated content”. Gated content is typically white papers, survey results or another in-depth document written to provide critical industry information. However, infographics are perfect for gated content if you are providing information with a significant amount of proprietary data.
- Helpful for SEO link building
- SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it’s the process of trying to get your site to rank higher in the list of organic search results. One way to do this is by attaining off-site links, i.e., links back to your website from other websites. Infographics are perfect for off-site backlinks. If someone finds your infographic and likes it, they might republish it on their site and you could ask for a link back to your site. These backlinks will show the search engines that you’re creating useful content and you’ll gain importance and rank higher.
The information doesn’t have to be only numbers; it can be a list of thoughts that are easily consumed in a graphic format. We created the following chart and included it in one of our recent blogs about SEO in the Oil & Gas Industry.
And, here’s an example of an infographic we created on deciding when to do a website redesign.
Infographics are popular, and if done well, they’ll keep your website visitors focused, entertained and coming back for more. They’re a handy way to share information that would otherwise be confusing, and maybe boring, to read. If you work in a technical industry, like engineering, manufacturing, or tech services, think of an infographic as a tool to be used to quickly convey your knowledge with your readers. You don’t have to share all of your expertise/data in the infographics…just enough to get them thinking and motivated to ask you for more.
Our design team has experience working with engineers, tech firms, and other B2B companies, to convert their useful data, or knowledge, into easily consumable infographics. Give us a call or send us a message with your infographic idea and we’d be happy to get started. And, remember, think outside of the box! Even research papers, or industry best practices, can be turned into interesting graphics.
- People love visuals
Mar 07 2018
B2B business owners are people too, with personal lives and unique interests. When they log into Facebook, they don’t take off their “CEO hat” and put on their “average user” hat. They still keep an eye out for information that would improve their business. If you’re trying to reach the largest audience of CEOS possible, you can’t beat Facebook. The website Statista reported that Facebook had 239 million active users in North America in the 4th quarter of 2017. In comparison, LinkedIn had 133 million active users in the US during the same period. An extra fact in favor of Facebook is that users tend to spend more time on their platform, versus LinkedIn.
If you’re thinking, “yeah, but quality over quantity,” we hear you. But, with Facebook’s huge volume of users, your ideal customer is out there consuming content. Just by the facts above, you’re more likely to reach CEOs on Facebook than LinkedIn. Facebook users spend, on average, 35 minutes per day using the platform, while LinkedIn users only use the platform for 17 minutes per month. That’s over double the amount of time spent consuming social media on Facebook! When you do reach people, remember they’re looking to have some fun, connect with friends and enjoy themselves. Therefore your B2B marketing on Facebook should focus on your brand story and engage with users in a friendly, community-focused, manner.
Know your audience
Your social media efforts should consider your user’s goal for using the platform. Are they just relaxing on a Friday night after a long week of being the CEO? Are they just out of college and trying to find a new job?
LinkedIn is a great place for personal networking, building resumes and connections that could help them in a career, and recruiting. LinkedIn has also developed a reputation for unsolicited sales pitches, which has inspired many decision makers to drop out or limit their consumption.
Facebook is more casual in its communication; consider it the morning coffee meeting or networking happy hour. Facebook is a serious business marketplace, but with a different tone.
Use the facts below to try to pinpoint your users purpose for logging into social media.
LinkedIn offers something they call “groups” to drive interaction among users. Groups are professional forums, which are great for asking questions, responding to issues and comments, and posting information or articles that would benefit the groups users. LinkedIn also allows users to publish original content through Pulse. Combine your Pulse articles with your group interaction and you’ll be seen as a field expert.
Facebook, on the other hand, allows business accounts and pages lots of flexibility in how they interact with social media users. Business accounts can comment and respond to users and build a brand-customer relationship. More importantly, Facebook allows B2B companies the ability to distribute content directly to their audience at times when they are actively seeking to be educated, informed and entertained.
Facebook has a highly developed Business Manager for managing ads for business accounts. Facebook collects data for marketers and professionals to use for promoted posts and ads. Linkedin is trying to build a system comparable to Facebook’s, but they have a ways to go.
Facebook recently premiered a “location awareness” tool. This tool is helpful because users can opt into geofencing type advertising without needing an app. Now businesses can quickly and easily find new customers by showing ads to people who are in close proximity to the business’s location. Local awareness ads are built to be more cost-effective than traditional advertising channels like newspaper and radio, while offering more precise targeting.
Facebook also offers retargeting ads by adding a pixel to the code of your website or landing page, which can then track when someone has visited either one. Then when the user logs into Facebook, ads show up based on visited pages or user interests. Retargeting with Facebook pixel basically follows the user from your website to Facebook, making sure to show them your ad. LinkedIn has something similar with its Insight Targeting Tag, but again, the LinkedIn audience is smaller than Facebook.
In this article from marketing automation software, Outbound Engine, they detail an experiment comparing LinkedIn Paid Ads against Facebook Boosted Posts. They shared the same post on both platforms to determine which had a better ROI for marketing spending. After spending $200 for a 1-day campaign, the LinkedIn post got 44 clicks. After spending $75 on a 3-day campaign, the Facebook post got 97 clicks. Therefore, the average cost per click on LinkedIn was $4.47, while only $0.77 on Facebook. Given these results, you might jump to the conclusion that Facebook is always the winner, but the reality is that it depends.
If you just want exposure and more eyeballs on your content, then Facebook is likely your best bet and the cheapest. If you want people to see your content AND enter lead information, the two platforms are comparable. But, if your main goal is leads, you may want to think about spending the extra cash for LinkedIn. Outbound had this to say on the topic, “experience has shown that clicks from LinkedIn are 500% more likely to convert to quality leads compared to Facebook.”
Facebook and LinkedIn are both useful platforms for reaching your audiences, their ROI just depends on your goals. Before dropping a ton of money on paid ads, consider the value of new leads and/or re-engaging existing clients – you might decide that the cost is prohibitive, or that it’s a worthy spend. To get the most out of pay-to-play social ads, we suggest zeroing in your goals and deciding which metrics you’re going to track. Then you’ll be prepared to make the judgment call on a campaign’s success.