Right now, we are all about learning and adapting. Trying new things is the name of the game. Recently, we asked fellow marketers what strategies, tactics and changes they saw in 2021. Some of their responses surprised us. So, we thought we’d add and share some of what we’ve been noticing in the business-to-business (B2B) marketing world and what we expect to be ongoing well into 2022 and beyond.
B2B companies could never have predicted the challenges for their work environments and supply chain disruptions they have seen in recent years. They most likely also never envisioned relying so heavily on the tools and technology they have since early 2020. We believe companies will continue to rely on these tools and technology going forward. Here are a few more insights from Lisa Shepherd, President of Mezzanine Growth and Scott Jamieson, Chief Operating Officer at Annex Business Media, Canada's largest B2B media company.
1. The Value of Virtual
Throughout 2021, we heard time and time again about “Zoom fatigue.” People said they were spending too much time on screens and audiences were not engaging with content. We found this to be only partially true. The reality is that when relevant content is presented in an engaging way, virtual platforms are great for sharing relevant, timely information with people who actually want or need it. In fact, we found that some key demographics actually wanted to see more online learning.
Not being able to go to in-person events or provide on-site learning has made it really challenging to help people learn about products and offerings. But by being open to new tactics and methods, companies have opened the door for exciting new opportunities to connect with customers.
Today, learners can access material from anywhere, at any time. The ability to make content available on-demand after an event also makes it easier for consumers to view the content they want, when they want and at their pace.
When done well, online learning can be a worthwhile experience, providing valuable information as well as saving time and resources for businesses and individuals. Done poorly, virtual events including tradeshows can be a dismal failure. Here’s why.
2. Shifting to Shorter Formats
With no apparent drop-off in appetite for online learning or in webinar registration and attendance, we have seen a significant shift toward shorter content. The desire for one hour or longer sessions is steadily declining, while the demand for more focussed content continues to grow.
The sweet spot in our experience has been keeping sessions between 10 and 40 minutes, and always incorporating an opportunity to engage, ask questions or share comments. Focussing on one topic at a time and making content more snack-sized versus lengthy and in-depth is becoming the new norm.
3. Stop Focusing Primarily on the C-Suite
Many marketers fall into the trap of seeking out the top decision-maker in a company to get their products noticed, considered and purchased. In their rush to check all these boxes, they often over-target the C-suite for leads, despite knowing – anecdotally and quantitatively – that these executives are not the best avenue for new customers.
There’s a myth out there that CEOs and Presidents are hard to get hold of. They’re not - often they receive far too many messages, aren’t subject matter experts and/or don’t forward information to those who may be looking for your services.
Today, many companies have multiple decision-makers. Targeting only one person is a big mistake. Do the work and figure out who the people in the company are that may be looking for your product or service. Send your offer to those people. Ideally, reach out to more than one person, from the manager, director or VP of a portfolio to the people working for them.
The boss may sign the cheques, but it’s their people you need to engage with to get your products noticed, assessed and considered.
4. The Rise of "Cold-email" Marketing
Marketing has always been about the long game. It starts with meeting people and getting to know a company, their needs and how your business can help them. It’s hard to start business relationships and make real connections in a world where you aren’t meeting or travelling as much.
In lieu of blindly reaching out to individuals or companies, many marketers are turning to technology to reach new prospects. These tools/providers offer automation for tactics like emailing non-contacts from a 3rd party database or making connections on platforms like LinkedIn when no prior relationship exists.
Are they effective? It's still early stages for many of our clients, but as with everything, the success of the tool will come down to the relevance of the messages, content and offers.
The key to achieving success beyond automation with these tools is having a real person respond to and answer questions or address any concerns. Automation can open the door, but it cannot continue ongoing and meaningful conversations.
5. More than Ever - Know thy Audience
Marketers must understand their audience. This is more true than ever before.
What do they want or need and how can your products or services fill that need? What we’ve discovered, is that most marketers don’t know as nearly much about their target audience as they think they do.
As an example, we know many companies and individuals are gravitating toward adding more new virtual opportunities like webinars and podcasts. But, are they remembering to include the segment of their audience that still really enjoys their tried and true methods like email and printed content? Before making an ‘all-in’ shift to one medium or another, consider how to repurpose content to get the same messages out in different formats.
Of the more than 40 different ways we have to communicate with a market, there are usually three to five, when done in combination, that will reach the majority. This doesn’t mean messages need to be completely different, just shared in a different way. Try leveraging the investment made in a webinar by turning the content into a podcast, short video or multiple short videos. Take content from the video and repurpose it for your website, blog and/or social media channels.
It's more important than ever to give prospects the information they need, in a way they appreciate, not just how it’s always been done. If you’re just pushing your messages without knowing if they resonate, you’re wasting your effort and money. Truly understanding what messages prospects want, what format they prefer and what offer will resonate with them are as critical as ever.
That’s a marketing lesson that stands the test of time.
Mezzanine B2B Growth Agents specializes in B2B demand and lead generation for companies that have complex sales. It’s all we do, so we have the depth and breadth of experience to help your company continue to grow. If you’re considering adding an outsourced partner to drive lead generation or would like some help deciding what tactics will work for business, contact us today.
Related reading: Taking Care of Business By Outsourcing Lead Generation.
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