B2B industries were traditionally moving via word of mouth, physical meetings, and human interaction. Hence, it is not a surprise that lots of B2B companies are still struggling to find their footing in the new normal.
Before we deep dive on how companies can adapt their B2B marketing for the new normal, it is important to note that there is no way back. The new normal is here to stay. Even if covid19 disappeared tomorrow, the changes it brought have consolidated the beginning of the 4th industrial revolution.
For B2B companies there are 3 pillars they need to excel in or else risk facing disruption:
- Community Building for Lead Generation
- Lead Generation via their online assets
- Master remote sales meetings
The above 3 pillars are nothing new for seasoned digital marketers. However, there is a crucial difference between now and the pre-COVID-19 era: Everyone is in the game! Competition has grown exponentially, due to the need for rapid adoption of digital technologies. Therefore, companies need to subsequently “up their digital marketing game”.
Let us start with content marketing first…
Content marketing is increasingly becoming the art of building communities. B2B companies need to move away from traditional one-way communication such as social media calendars, whitepapers and guides and move towards community building as soon as possible.
What does community building look like and how can you get started?
Start by defining your space – what is the industry you are in?
Continue with developing a series of content hubs relevant to your community. Think YouTube channel, Podcast, Forum, WhatsApp or Telegram Group etc. A content hub acts as a channel of direct communication between you and your prospects.
Finally, consistently offer valuable FREE content via those content hubs. It is important to note that your content hubs should not act as mere sales channels. Place all your efforts into content marketing and community building and generating prospects will be the natural next step.
Next, let us discuss leveraging your own assets for lead generation.
What has changed here? B2B websites need to work much harder to convert users to leads. Presenting company information for re-affirmation purposes is not enough in the post-COVID world. A website should function as the sales meeting, with an objective of moving users down the sales funnel.
Get started by simply following the below checklist:
- Clearly communicate your contact details on all pages
- Make it easy for users to contact you via instant messaging (ie. WhatsApp)
- Consider an explanatory Video
- Make it easy for users to request a demo
- Make it easy for users to book an appointment at a date/time of their convenience (avoid unnecessary manual follow-ups)
- Build Trust on all pages
Last, but not least, the entirety of the sales process has already migrated online.
What is the catch here?
Online sales meetings have some especially important differences comparing to physical meetings:
- Attention is not a given
- It is harder to break the ice and build a relationship
- You must rely far more on presentations and video
- You cannot easily gauge the prospects’ reactions
As a result, the sales process needs to adapt and evolve accordingly:
- Take advantage of the online setting to showcase examples
- Invite prospects to access online documents prior to meetings (prompt them to prepare their questions in advance)
- Cross-promote your value-adding content hubs to build thought-leadership and re-affirmation.
Finally, leveraging paid media is also a great way to generate leads. However, any type of paid advertising works better when both your digital assets and sales process are fully optimised. Thus, it is wise to invest in paid media only if you feel confident in converting your prospects.
There are three big mistakes we need to avoid here:
- Driving Social Media traffic on Landing Pages
This is a big one! A lot of B2B companies are making the mistake of building landing pages for their Facebook and LinkedIn advertising, while at the same time both channels are giving you the option to collect leads straight on their platforms! (Check: Lead generation objectives).
- Not investing on Paid Search
If there is one channel that can give you quality leads, that is Search! Through search you can find users who are already Googling for services like yours – and here is where landing pages need to be implemented!
- Not investing on Content partnerships
In every industry, you can find thought-leaders, events, forums and communities and you can capitalise on. Simply make a list of all the content hubs your audience is using to check for information, keep in touch with industry news and learn new skills – and approach these content creators directly to sponsor them and form partnerships.
Remember that as Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most adaptive to change.” The same applies for companies!