According to a recent study from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), B2B companies say marketing — especially content marketing — has become more important to them in the last year.
The challenge: Businesses find it hard to get access to the resources required to deliver effective marketing.
To become more successful content marketers, B2B companies need the following:
A content and general marketing strategy
Organization-wide awareness and support of marketing efforts
A larger budget and additional help
Access to industry experts
The latest technology
Better measurement capabilities
Greater alignment between marketing and sales teams.
When forced to pick the single biggest marketing challenge they face, B2B companies say it’s having the right content for every stage of the sales process or maintaining consistency in organizational messaging.
If you’re experiencing these challenges at your B2B operation, you’re not alone. Just under three out of ten B2B organizations included in the CMI study feel that their marketing efforts are extremely or very successful. The rest — seven out of ten — question their B2B promotional and content activities.
Here are our top tips for dealing with some of the most significant B2B marketing issues you could be facing now and into 2023.
Need for a content and general marketing strategy. Random marketing untethered to an overall strategy rarely ever pays off. If you do anything to improve your promotional efforts moving forward, develop a strategy based on the sales and business results you want to achieve in the year ahead. Select marketing strategies and tactics that will contribute to those results. Assign goals to each of them. Track progress toward those goals to ensure you’re keeping pace toward reaching them. A marketing plan brings discipline, order, and accountability to your efforts. It’s the only way to ensure the time and money you spend on promoting your business will deliver the results you want.
Organization-wide awareness and support of marketing efforts. If your sales team, customer service reps, and others who work for you aren’t fully buying into your marketing activities, it may not be because they’re rebelling against them. Perhaps they don’t understand them. Take time to educate your team on the promotion you’re doing. Ensure they know how their efforts fit into yours. A clear knowledge of the big picture will help them understand how they can support your marketing while doing their work.
A larger budget and additional help. Cash-strapped B2B company owners often handle marketing themselves (or with help from family and friends). They believe going it alone is a good way to save money. The truth, however, is that outsourcing some of your marketing tasks to experts often pays for itself in improved results and fewer headaches. If you’re concerned about spending limited budget dollars on marketing, start small. Hire an agency or freelancer to handle a task or campaign. Assign bottom line results to the effort that includes the cost of hiring the talent. If you achieve the results you need or do better, it’s proof you should handle less of your own marketing and turn it over to the pros.
Access to industry experts. One of the key ways for B2B companies to bring in new business today is to get endorsements from recognized industry experts and influencers. Businesses are more likely to do business with companies recommended by people they respect. Think it’s impossible to get endorsed by an expert? Think again! Thought leaders want to be connected to the people in your customer base as much as you want their endorsement. Influencer marketing is a mutually beneficial game, especially for local B2B companies. You can likely connect to a college professor, respected blogger, or media personality in your area through social media or at local events. When you pitch an influencer or endorsement deal, consider what’s in it for them as much as what’s in it for you.
The latest technology. Similar to outsourcing marketing, small business owners often try to save money by scrimping on marketing technology. The reality is that a small investment in tech can make your marketing efforts more manageable and effective. It will give you the power to do more with less and determine whether your marketing is working so you can improve it. A simple automated email system could help you stay more connected with customers while spending less time sending out emails. It will also allow you to see which emails are being read by what customers, allowing you to optimize your email marketing. Also, consider adding social media and customer service automation systems. They will provide similar bottom-line benefits to your business.
Better measurement capabilities. How can you know if your marketing is working if you don’t track results? If you do one thing this year to improve your marketing, learn to use Google Analytics, social media tracking tools, and other solutions that can help you measure marketing results. It’s the only way to know for sure whether your investment in marketing is paying off.
Greater alignment between marketing and sales teams. Marketing is all about the relationship – sales is about closing the deal. It often seems like the two will never meet. But if your sales and marketing activities aren’t in sync, your business results will suffer. The best way to solve this issue is through open dialogue. Tell your salespeople what you’re trying to accomplish with your marketing. Find out if it’s providing the support they need. A little conversation will go a long way toward syncing up your sales and marketing activities.
Having the right content. Unfortunately, for many smaller companies, sales support is often more of an ad-hoc activity than a professional effort – that has to change for a company to be successful. The only way to deliver the sales support materials that close deals is to ask salespeople what content they need to sell, and ask customers what information they require to feel comfortable with the products and services you offer. Hit-and-miss sales support will usually miss the mark with prospective customers.
Consistent messaging. As a part of your business brand, you should document your key messages, just like you did your logo, company colors, and other brand attributes. Your team and marketing vendors can’t represent your company in words in a unified way if you don’t tell them what the messages are and how to use them.
B2B businesses face unique challenges, and these challenges will continue into the new year. However, a little extra effort and some out-of-the-box ideas can help you overcome these hurdles. Leverage the tips in this article and some fresh thinking to achieve success in 2023 and beyond.