B2B digital marketing done right.... Or I told you so.
With all our B2B clients we have always been consistent on our approach. Be a thought leader we said. A thought leader is someone who uses consistent fresh original content on their digital properties like websites to comment with deep insight on trends and solutions their customers are interested in.
This content is not oriented around selling. It defeats its purpose if it has a "buy me for this or this reason" message. The content instead focuses on important issues that their customer ecosystem faces and your solutions address. But it does this in a neutral manner focusing on insights that potential and existing customers actually value. Every website we manage for a B2B client we modify to add thought leadership portions. This means a section for whitepapers and ebooks on critical topics as well as a blog where leadership insights can be shared.
Why is this necessary? Because B2B does not follow the rules of the B2C consumer. The B2C consumer starts off with an idea of a few brands and goes online and further narrows or widens that pool. Then if product design is not much of a criteria they will decide on feature set within their price range. If it is a criteria they'll narrow down to a few and visit the retail site and make their call. Digital in B2C is thus about ensuring that when a customer evaluates you, your digital properties are there on those touch points he uses. Or you guide him to those areas on the internet where he eventually exits with a favourable impression of you. But he gains most of his trust from peer reviews and expert views.
B2B is a different beast. The digital communities where technical or industry solutions are debated are often not frequented by business decision makers. This is especially true in the technology and telecom space. Furthermore customers of multi million dollar solutions often do not reach critical mass in pure numbers or level of interaction to even be classified as a community. A significant portion of B2B trust is thus gained from the quality of content on a customer's digital properties. While evaluating a solution if a customer empathises with, associates with and comes away impressed with your content; your solutions will be short listed. In fact if he has made his mind up of the vendors he will purchase a solution from and he comes across your content and is impressed, you will force your solution into reckoning with the sheer quality of thought leadership and insights you display about your understanding of the customer problem and the field it related to. Time and time again we have seen this happen. Which is why the crux of our B2B digital marketing offering is around original relevant content.
Why the "I told you so?" Because a new study from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council just validated the criticality of online content for B2B buying.
"Nearly two out of three B2B buyers (62%) seek out content to learn about new market developments and industry practices, while nearly the same number of people (60%) seek out content to discover new solutions that could address specific needs. Just over one in two B2B buyers (52%) seek out content to address a project that is already in progress (or about to commence) for their companies"
These are stunning figures. So even before the evaluate phase, in the research phase B2B companies can start getting included into potential list of solutions by clients. A majority of B2B customers go online looking for clarity about the products they need and the latest trends and inisghts to better understand what to buy and why.
Companies that display thought leadership on their digital properties via original constantly updated content will be the winners in the new era where customers for B2B solutions go online to make up their minds.