When building your B2B marketing foundations, best practices include the creation of personas, an understanding of the buying party, and mapping of buyer journeys. These foundations help visualise how your target audiences’ interact when defining their problem, researching solutions, and making buying decisions. Our Green Hat / AMI B2B Marketing Research Report 2021 cited that 72% of top marketers interviewed had developed either customer personas or journey maps.
To better understand the buyer journeys, you must speak to real customers. Your sales team will have their own experiences and assumptions but there’s nothing better than going to the source to know what really goes on behind the scenes.
Through conducting recent interviews and research for our customers, some interesting insights were revealed. When asked the question “how do you select potential suppliers/vendors?” the answer, in the majority of cases was “I ask my trusted peer network”. Very few expressed that they venture to brand websites or click on ads. Their fastest and most reliable channel for information and insight was from colleagues, friends, or industry connections. In fact, connections within education, healthcare, and government industries stated word of mouth as the most used research channel.
When reflecting on this question, the most obvious answer seems to lie in the customer experience. If you are the vendor, solution partner, valued or trusted provider of services, then you need to ensure it’s your brand that will be top of mind when colleagues share their experiences – and a positive experience at that.
Are all your staff positive advocates for your brand? Are they able to tell engaging and relevant stories with their friends and colleagues? Arming them with clear and simple brand propositions, sound bites and stories will go a long way to ensuring the messages heard are consistent and compelling.
Your staff offers a free and broad-reaching channel to market. By providing them with easy ways to share social posts to their networks, you are expanding your reach and showing the human side of your business. Staff need to feel they can play a role in supporting the business and helping it grow, so ensuring they get regular content to post should be added to your suite of tactics. This can be made easier by using platforms such as Sociabble: The Employee Communications and Advocacy Platform.
Drive effective communication in the workplace and boost employee engagement through a centralised hub. Beyond a social media aggregator, Sociabble drives personalised internal and external information to each of your employees, no matter where they are located, including alerts and push notifications on mobile devices. Stay top of mind and connect with employees.
During the research and problem definition stages, your clients are often seeking help to actually define the real problem. They are dealing with symptoms that are creating inefficiency, frustration, negative customer experience, or dents in the bottom line. However, being too close to the problem can often mean they can’t see the real issue. They want proactive help from solution partners, so your thought leadership should focus on the most common problems your organisation addresses – pick those issues apart and share where you believe the potential problem and solution may lie.
Case studies, use cases, success stories, and testimonials are the most valued by buyers looking for proof that you have taken on a challenge similar to their own. However, they can often be the toughest assets to create due to customers not always being willing to be named and wary of sharing potential IP gained from working with you. Ensuring you get permission from your customers before developing a case study is vital. Using case studies to attract new customers doesn’t always need to be in the same industry – in fact, lessons learned from others sometimes inspire an alternative approach.
The audience often ‘see-through’ case studies that are too perfect… they want to hear the negatives as well as the positives, so it’s important to keep it real. There will always be lessons learned; don’t be afraid to share those learnings.
As a marketer, this is not something that is always in your control but if you’ve been smart in your positioning and your sales team got the deal over the line, the onboarding and implementation must deliver on what you promised. If they don’t, the word of mouth that’s being shared, won’t be about how good your advertising was! Instead, you’ll become known as the brand who over promise and under delivers. So ensure you pay attention to your NPS scores, customer feedback, and surveys to understand the general sentiment before launching into market with a product, service, or solution that clearly needs some attention
The objective of your top-of-funnel and mid-funnel marketing is to gain awareness and attention, build intrigue and interest, and start to build some trust with your brand. To ensure your brand’s messaging is connecting with your potential customers, make sure you leverage your greatest asset – your people. This will not only help in understanding the true needs of your potential customers; to deliver on the promise to your existing customers, but also demonstrate that you are genuinely driven by solving the needs of your customers. Don’t fake it… the word on the street is “honesty is the best policy” and that’s what your future customer is willing to pay for and advocate.