Discover 9 Secrets of the Most Innovative B2B Brands
Innovative B2B marketers are fluent in newer digital and content marketing practices. We’re constantly adding a new spin to classic tactics. And, we’re grooving on the opportunity to entertain and engage customers as we find the great story in our B2B solutions and people. This makes it fun and keeps the craft interesting.
But what’s new can be hard. And noise levels are increasing as more of us adopt new ways of marketing. To help you cut through the cacophony, I’ve outlined this guide to discovering what’s new and useful.
9 Disciplines for Innovation That Matters
- Define the customer experience you must deliver
- Know how to digitally reach your B2B buyers
- Get insights from frontline employees
- Design marketing for the intertwined digital-sales-partner landscape
- Get very specific on how your work drives demand
- Test your demand creation ideas and “fail fast”
- See and support ‘federated’ content creation across teams
- Act fast
- Demonstrate momentum
1.Define the customer experience you must deliver.
Don’t guess how your customer winds their way through your people, touch points, and systems. Diagram it. Then, validate the most common and important pathways with customers. No customer takes the same journey, but there will be typical behaviors. Also, interview your employees about customer journey behaviors. They may not use customer experience or marketing terms to describe it, but they know what customers want and do based on repeated interactions. With a clear map of how they engage and what they seek, you can make it easier and more meaningful for customers when they engage.
2. Know how to digitally reach your B2B buyers.
First, don’t dismiss Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook or Instagram as irrelevant to B2B buyers. We’re all online as consumers. Pew Research Center indicates that 6 in 10 get their news via social. You should be a click away. The best way to know how to design the right social experience is survey your own customers. Ask them where they discover information in digital and what channels they use. Don’t guess. General research and facts on what works for consumer businesses or major B2B brands are good benchmarks. But, you won’t know what works for your business without learning more about your buyers and customers.
3. Get insights from frontline employees.
Employee experiences are a hidden gem in doing marketing well. But it’s hard to sort through thousands of one-off opinions. So, get regular, structured listening sessions going with frontline sales and service experts. Launch frontline employee surveys as a normal course of business. The quantitative input adds structure to the wide array of opinions and priorities. Make it a point to let them know you’ve listened, and acted on a few priority areas. No one wants to feel ignored – especially the men and women who interact with your customers every day.
4. Design marketing for the intertwined digital-sales-partner landscape.
We’re long past the days when salespeople or a brand are trusted as the sole source of information for a buying decision. People kick the tires in different ways as they seek to understand how a product, solution or service can solve their business challenges. Customers and prospects today trust digital sources and word of mouth sources throughout a decision process.
For many buyers, they also still rely on expert salespeople and knowledgeable partners. Guess what? Those partners and salespeople need modern, digital content and tools too. They need to see what’s reaching customers, and have an expanded set of content assets readily to further the consultative partnership. Good marketing supplies that right content, for the right touchpoint, and the right buyer needs in a timely way.
Yup – you may have predicted my next piece of advice. You’ll do this well by researching how your buyers discover new solutions. It’ll be a mix of learning from friends, colleagues, families, digital, and vendors. If your partners and salespeople offer insights and value, they’ll be a primary source of information. What that mix is for your business is what matters. Don’t rely solely on good industry stats for this information. Go out and get your own data. It’s worth the effort.
5. Get very specific on how your work drives demand.
All marketing work comes down to actions and results.
- People most likely to buy = target lists
- Messages and activities that hit the mark = email opens, click-throughs, social shares, and butts in seats at keynotes and events (by the way…these are all insights into real customer actions)
- Content that works = views, shares, clicks, registrations (this is best when you can see this for customers and sales / partners)
- Positioning/targeting = pipeline activity, revenue growth in target accounts
- Category marketing = share growth, new / featured product penetration
- Quality leads = volume of ideal target leads in pipeline and lead velocity
- Sales enablement = reps trained, content usage stats, prospects engaged in marketing tactics–by rep, by territory, by region
- Customer onboarding = welcome emails sent + opened, welcome kits delivered, getting started videos viewed, logins / usage of the purchased solutions (if trackable)
You get the point. There are many metrics and measures of outcomes. Know how your work is driving customer and sales behaviors. Yes – you’ll likely need new marketing technology to do this. It’s time to make the case.
6. Test your demand creation ideas and “fail fast”.
Thanks to marketing technology, we can see what marketing programs, campaigns, tools, and content drive buying and selling behaviors. Be confident in trying new things, yet humble enough to quickly see if your tactics work. Keep an eye on the real-time data you can get. If you have to get information manually, don’t wait for months to see if something worked. Keep a continual pulse using “tribal” input from your people.
7. See and support ‘federated’ content creation across teams.
Good content is a team sport. It incorporates brand messaging and tells a story. It’s mapped to the entire buyer lifecycle so that you have the right content, for the right buyer at the right moment through the channel they chose. All of that means that you need inputs and content from folks ranging from corporate marketing and product marketing to product managers and customers. Good content creation is a team sport. So, have a game plan and work your expert network for high quality content that engages buyers.
8. Act fast.
Be strategic, have a plan, but get to action as fast as possible. Theory is only as good as the actions and results that prove or disprove your beliefs and assumptions. Also, most kinks unfold when you’re doing the work. So, what are you waiting for?
9. Demonstrate momentum.
Business and sales leaders want quick results. Many investments in operations, IT, marketing and customer experience take time. Use your business experience to win support and set realistic expectations. A good way to do that is to create a roadmap of milestones and deliverables that keep stakeholders close and engaged as you go for the goal. When they can see progress, they’re more willing to support change.