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B2B marketing's role has always had two core components; first, to drive awareness of the brand or product or service. Most business managers accept the premise that 'nobody ever bought a product or service from a Company they never heard of' so awareness activity has always been begrudgingly given some money by the business for this form of marketing indulgence. The second area and one which always received more traction was the notion of putting more significant resources behind generating leads for the sales force (given that 80% of b2b organisations are sales driven).
Such generation used to consist of a cut out response coupon from a trade press ad or a phone call to the usually silent 'sales hotline'. Time has moved on but the role for leads is still #1. Marketers have had to evolve because the sales cycle has moved on. No longer does prospective buyer A present himself as a hot but uniformed lead (which is effectively what he used to do) - now he researches and asks and interacts and learns - at every point now, he is arming himself with the information he needs to eventually present himself as a hot but informed lead - and at the point he is prepared to tell you who he is and you can pass the lead on to the sales team, the one thing you can be certain of is the fact that he will only do so if you have engaged him at every step. If you have presented the dull and functional, he is more likely to have 'walked' and gone to your competitor who presents information in a more interesting way.
We will look at content programmes that aren't about ticking boxes, but about engaging prospects as people. Creative content keeps them locked in and makes them more likely to pre qualify themselves as someone who is not only in the target, but who has developed some empathy before the sales team meet him. That's where marketing makes the difference.