As I have been discussing in these columns before, B2B marketing is becoming more dynamic day by day, and marketers who are used to static marketing plans need a wakeup call to deliver better results. It is not at all about technology, as the platforms are readily available. It is all about a mindset change that will help make a smarter marketer.
As some tech folks promote, marketing automation is not what makes you a smarter marketer. Those programmes and wares are necessary to bring in more accountability and return on investment. But what is critical is how well one can make selections and when to make those choices. What marketers need to realise now is the major shifts that they need to embrace.
In the days of static marketing, marketers work on a campaign and then run it as per the media plan decided. Those days are well over now. You cannot wait till a campaign is over to know the results, by which time your competition would have taken the prospects away. Measurements are real-time today. Automation systems allow you to measure real-time results and prepare responses to each step of the marketing tactics decided. It allows marketers to change and take corrective actions in order to get the best results very dynamically based on market feedback.
Gone are the days of waiting and hoping for the results based on the completion of a campaign. You need to change the plan if the response rate is too slow. The mechanism to measure the behaviour of prospects to your content can help you to make the necessary corrections and increase the relevance to the target audience thereby driving immediate results. Smarter marketers need to learn how best they can do this, and how quickly.
Media planning is not as you are used to in the past. When you launch a new product in the past, you plan elaborately on the direct mailing, TV campaigns or print campaigns. We all have used TRP data and spreadsheets to ensure that everything is taken care of, based on the optimum use of budgets. The objective for most launches used to be making the biggest possible noise in the market given the budgets. Once it is done and amounts allocated were spent, things go back to normal as usual. This is not the way things will work today and from now onwards. It is important to build relationships incrementally and not with a “big bang theory”. Continuous communication is the mantra. This is also because the memory is too short these days because of too much noise everywhere. The idea, therefore, is to create consistent engagement with prospects and build a network of informed prospects. Sort of like a social media group. This requires a commitment at all levels to update news and content to the group on a regular basis.
Smart marketers know that it is not enough today to just having your logo or message in front of your audience. Puffery in advertising is not going to work anymore. No one is interested if you are claiming big things about your product or service. It should be conveyed creatively as a referral or demo. Your value proposition should be clear in order for the prospect to connect with your brand amongst the competition. Prospects are looking for solutions that add value to their products or services, and so claims alone will not resonate well with them. The content should be like a story. Start with educating them as to why they should solve the problem and how your expertise can help, and if your products fit in, so be it. The idea is to keep your focus more and more on your customers’ problems rather than your product features.
The success of a marketing programme using email marketing cannot be based on click-throughs or impressions or opt-ins. Opt-ins unless they move through the different stages of the buying process will not indicate anything. The new automation systems allow you to develop lead scoring models that gauge the buyer interest. The smarter marketers know that the goal is to get the prospects to spend more time with your content and company rather than with the competition. The pipeline will be better filled when you are able to engage the audience with problem-solving content. This will lead to higher sales conversions. B2B marketers realise that a trusted partner or advisor is one of the strategic goals of marketing these days. According to research, marketers’ No. 1 priority today, is the contribution to revenue.
What smarter marketers do differently is making communication a two-way street. They use social media and other channels to start a dialogue or conversation with prospects. If you are not enabling prospects to interact with you on their terms, you are likely to lose out.