There is lots of information out there about B2B marketing. By our very nature, B2B marketers are ‘content producers’, but this isn’t always a good thing as it can mean confusion and conflicting ideas about how those in the industry should behave and what they should do.
We surveyed some of our people here at Fifth Ring to glean some industry truths on what we can all do better, whether you are an agency or client side marcomms specialist.
1. Kill the buzz words
If one of your action items as a brand evangelist isn’t to leverage the buzzwords out of your bizmeth, then you’re not supporting coopetition. Don’t worry, I’m done speaking gibberish. That can’t have been an enjoyable sentence for you to read, but it got my message across: buzzwords don’t help anybody get their message across (except me, right then).
As an integrated agency, Fifth Ring has people who work in digital, PR, design, brand and strategy, and advertising. That means that staying informed in our jobs exposes us to the full spectrum of B2B buzzwords. And what an ugly spectrum it is, failing to shed light on anything.
From people across the company, jargon-users were accused of not just a lack of clarity, but also of intentionally confusing readers. Filling a paragraph with words that blur the message suggests that you either don’t know what you are trying to say, or want to conceal the truth. Neither are a great trait for your brand to have!
So get rid of the buzzwords. They are not helping you communicate.
2. Stop being so fickle
The internet has made it possible for companies to gain huge amounts of valuable information about potential customers who show interest online, but the age of instant results and new tools and platforms appearing daily has encouraged some very short term thinking.
Dropping one digital tool to get involved with the next one does not help build an online presence.
That’s not to say that companies shouldn’t join the latest growing online trends, but only if you’re sure it has the right fit with your organisation and objectives. Colleagues in our digital team are constantly looking for the next big thing in an industry that moves very quickly. You’ve got to move fast to avoid being left behind. But you also need to be smart about it.
Developing familiarity and building up an audience is easiest achieved by early adoption, but for really rewarding engagement the most important thing is not so much ‘presence’ as ‘involvement’. How many facebook sites have you seen that look like a ghost town, or twitter profiles that have been silent for weeks? Companies that only post to their blog a few times a year are not showing commitment to a medium that demands immediate and regular interaction.
Even companies that are engaging with customers regularly online can be guilty of fickle behaviour. Social media metrics are great for putting a number on your "success", but it’s easy to get fixated with immediate results in a digital world. Retweets, ‘likes’ and hit counts are a good sign, but going viral is not the be all and end all of an online presence. Thinking long term, your message may be reaching a lot of people, but are they the right ones and is it the right message?
3. Think like a B2C marketer
The myth that B2B buyers are completely different to B2C is slowly being dispelled. Because of the length of the buying cycle and the level of consideration involved in B2B decisions, it is often assumed that the whole process must be entirely rational. But the benefits of sending messages that connect personally to individuals on an emotional level are just as powerful in B2B as they are in B2C.
Many people surveyed at Fifth Ring mentioned how, whatever size the company, communication still comes down to a single person reading a poster, watching a video, or hearing an ad and responding - in both B2B and B2C. We have found that producing content that engages with customers emotionally is crucial, whether you’re reaching a CEO or a 21 year old buying their first car. But the difference in B2B is that you need to engage multiple audiences (people) at multiple stages of the buyer journey - a task that only a good B2B marketer can comprehend and execute!
4. Think multichannel. All the time.
We know, it’s easy for us to say, being an integrated agency, but if you’re running your own marcomms it can be hard to think holistically. There are a lot of plates to keep spinning from social media, to print adverts, exhibitions, events, sales materials, apps, websites, PR and more. It’s important to have a consistent message, but that’s not something that’s easy to achieve with so many different channels and increasing volumes of content.
And they are all important. A PR campaign that supports an exhibition, or social media posts that draw attention to a new product, makes channels work together to reinforce a message. Companies that use these varied channels but don’t think of them as a combined toolkit are not gaining the greatest benefit from their marketing spend.
So there you have it. Some advice, thoughts and musings from around the Fifth Ring world on what everyone in B2B marketing can do, today, to improve their communications. Fellow B2B marketers, is it time for a new year resolution?