(aka what B2B marketing strategies and tactics we’ll be implementing from now on)
A few weeks ago I spent the day with fellow B2B Marketing geeks at the Mumbrella B2B Marketing Summit 2019 in Sydney. It was a great day all round, and I learned a huge amount.
My biggest takeaway though was the affirmation that Content Copywriting is on top of the best B2B marketing strategy and tactics. Better yet, we’re currently putting them into practice for our clients.
I felt proud to hear almost every speaker stress the importance of audience profiling, which is exactly what we recommend to our clients.
Maybe the ‘B2B’ concept is fundamentally flawed?
The main message from the day was…
the B2B industry isn’t actually ‘business-to-business’ at all: it’s a B2P industry – ‘business-to-people’.
Businesses and brands are just ideas. They don’t make any purchasing decisions themselves. Instead, it’s the people who either work within or own those businesses and brands who decide to buy your product or service.
Maybe it’s better to call it ‘P2P’ (people to people)?
I’d argue that it’s not even ‘business to people’, but rather ‘people to people’. Sure, people buy what a business is selling. But the brands that have excelled in recent years are those that have created a personality around their business. They’ve given their brand a human face, complete with feelings, emotions, wishes, desires and flaws.
Those brands connect with customers – business or otherwise – because they portray themselves as human in their marketing.
It’s an interesting concept to remember when you’re planning your next quarter’s goals and activities. How can you make your business more human? How can you connect more with the humans you want to buy your products or services?
My top 4 takeaways from the summit
Beyond the overarching B2B/B2P/P2P principle, I also took away several more specific pointers that I’ll be keeping in mind for Content Copywriting and our clients. Here are my top four…
#1: You NEED to understand your ideal client
EVERY speaker talked about the importance of understanding exactly who your ideal client is.
In fact, this was, in essence, what the day was about!
Every single presentation mentioned this point. Some viewed it from the perspective of AI and machine learning. Others looked at it from the viewpoint of subscription-based businesses. Still others tied it in to viral marketing. But without exception, every one of them focused on it.
One of my favourite presentations was by Justin Cannon from Cooperate. He spoke about the importance of marketing frameworks that are driven by customer journeys. He saw the challenge for current B2B brands as coming down to three areas:
- Customer complexity: many B2B sales include myriad decision-makers at different levels and in different roles. This makes it immensely complex to define your ideal client and ensure you meet their information needs at the right times during the sales process.
- Sale cycle length: for business customers, the sales process can take a LONG time. It can also stall repeatedly for extended periods at different stages between the different decision-makers.
- Lack of consistent messaging: lack of visibility between a business’s sales and marketing teams can lead to serving different collateral to the same customer. This creates a loss of consistency that can damage the business’s brand.
Overall, it doesn’t matter how great a single marketing campaign is. You need to do the legwork to ensure any interaction a client has with your brand is consistent, timely and serves their specific information needs. Otherwise, your brand won’t be successful long term.
#2: We need to connect the creative with data and technology
David Halter, Chief Strategy Officer at CHE Proximity, hit the nail on the head when he asked,
“What’s the point of marketing if it doesn’t work?”
For B2B brands, the difference between marketing that works and marketing that doesn’t is ‘Connected Creativity’. We need to deliver a persuasive message in a precise moment, while fixing any friction in the marketing and sales process. We also need to understand that everything is a brand ad – from the failed payment text message to the welcome email.
So how do we get to this magical point of ‘Connected Creativity’? We merge data and technology with a deep understanding of our audience and then match the right content to the moment.
#3: Far more B2B brands need to focus on customer centrism
Peter Turner from Customer Frame reported the worrying statistic…
Only 14% of B2B brands describe themselves as ‘customer centric’
That means a whopping 86% don’t focus on their customers. And why are any of us in business if not for our customers?
Peter also spoke inspirationally about how a deep understanding of their customers can impact a B2B brand’s sales and marketing efforts. His model for powerful in-depth customer profiling brings together the sales and marketing teams to focus on the customer. He suggested starting by simply identifying who you want your customer to be. Then he recommended unearthing their needs and profiling them in minute detail, even going as far as documenting their typical day.
I’m proud of the customer profiling Content Copywriting already delivers. However, I’ll definitely be adding in some new elements to our customer profiling strategy outputs.
#4: We need to stop thinking of our brands as a story
Your brand isn’t the story. Your customers – and their customers – are.Mark Jones, Beliefomonics
Mark’s five golden rules of B2B storytelling were fantastic, and I’ll be using them with a few of our current clients to help them recharge their storytelling. When you think back to the focus on B2P instead of B2B, you get a keen sense of just how important storytelling is to today’s businesses.
Unfortunately, many marketers think their brand and its history is ‘their story’. But, as Mark said, the real story is about your clients and customers, and how what you sell transforms their lives.
To tell that story, you need to:
- Realise that belief trumps trust: 70% of purchase decisions are emotional, and 30% are rational. That means you need to appeal to people’s belief systems and their emotions (including the bad ones if need be).
- Look at psychographics, not demographics: think about your complete ideal audience picture – not just the traditional profiling stats – to discover what your customer thinks, feels and believes.
- Understand that your customers’ experiences with your brand are everything: one inconsistent, negative experience with your brand will completely overwrite all the other hundreds of seamless, positive interactions they’ve had.
- Reduce friction wherever you can: it doesn’t matter which part of your business a client is connecting with – sales, marketing, admin or your contact form. If you don’t make it easy for everyone, you’ll lose them fast.
- Remember that simplicity is joy: the minute an interaction or story becomes complicated, you’ve lost your client’s attention – possibly permanently.
4 things Content Copywriting will do differently from now on
As I said above, this summit was full of ‘aha moments’ – but information is only useful if you act on it. So here are four things we’ll start to do differently for our clients as a result of this conference:
- Add even more meat to our customer profiling to ensure this strategic output becomes a solid part of every client’s company-wide discussions.
- Investigate ways to connect our clients’ data with technology and creativity.
- Focus even more strongly on content strategy for our clients – the conference cemented the need for a holistic strategy that covers all customer touchpoints, not just ‘website content’ or ‘social media’.
- Read some of the fantastic recommended resources from the day, and consistently challenge ourselves – and our clients – to be better
Thanks for having me, @mumbrella!