As a marketing consultant, specializing in positioning and communication across categories, I have seen the growth of digital marketing pretty close up. Most of the time, digital success stories are narrated by agile ‘consumer facing’ start ups or larger firms who have their act (and budgets) together.
Interestingly the use of digital marketing in small and medium sized B2B firms is limited – due to either a lack of resources (time and money) or paucity of knowledge. Some of them remain focused on building warm bodies and engaged in traditional marketing methods and avoid focusing on digital marketing for brand building. This is unfortunate. We believe digital marketing can help B2B firms leap-frog visibility barriers and engage with clients at costs significantly lower than traditional marketing plans.
This note has some pointers on how digital marketing can provide valuable air cover for start-up B2B firms trying to break through clutter and gain mindshare of busy clients. We are using our A-C-E-R (Aware-Consider-Engage-Repeat) approach towards B2B marketing to set a context.
1. Create Targeted Awareness
Smaller B2B firms have a limited target audience. Roughly 500 – 1000 people make up their list of potential customers. Digital marketing allows us the luxury of targeted communication and evaluating the impact of the same.
- This can be done through plain vanilla advertising or high quality content that users seek of their own accord. Here the differentiator is a focused and differentiated message that needs to be well crafted and wherever possible – customised.
• Smart use of PR (Traditional and Digital) also goes a long way in building credibility and promoting brand promise as part of a coherent digital marketing strategy
2. Enter the Consideration Set
We have interviewed over 50 heads of business over the past one year for various B2B projects. When asked on why they consider certain vendors they usually say “I know about them and the kind of work that they do”. Hence sharing relevant knowledge about ones capability is necessary to entering the consideration set.
- High quality content that helps the client address a business problem is a sure way of leapfrogging the consideration barriers and a key part of today’s B2B digital marketing strategy.
- Focus on providing the client with something they are looking for… not just what we have to sell. Content marketing is not an easy job – as generating high quality, authentic content is a difficult task.
3. Engage, buy and experience
When a client engages and requests for a proposal, we find the best warm bodies arrive and give a really good show. Face to face interactions still remain an extremely effective closure method in B2B sales with video calls catching up.
- Smaller firms have usually cracked this aspect of the sales process. Their products and services are good and the passion of the founders – infectious. So digital marketing has done its job in getting the doors to open and can take a short break.
4. Remain visible for Repeats & Referrals
After a project is over, most small and medium B2B firms don’t have enough warm bodies to invest in maintaining a relationship. This is an area where digital marketing can help them stay in touch with the client in a relevant and cost effective manner.
- Timely greetings, news updates and friendly messages when client is in the news helps keep the relationship going. Useful content, research findings, white papers /material which we know will help the client work effectively or address an on-going business challenge, can be delivered electronically, at a nominal cost.
- Digital ‘Stay in touch’ campaigns can always be supplemented with an occasional ‘meet and greet’ which helps stay in the consideration set
In summation :
Often small and medium sized B2B firms have great products and services to offer. By investing in a smart digital marketing strategy, these firms can gain significant mindshare and strength their business funnel in a cost effective manner.
Read more about our approach towards B2B Brand Strategy :