The End All and Be All of B2B Marketing (Exchange)

 

Kelly Shermach, Content Strategist

 

 

Today B2B Marketing Exchange 2018 comes to an end. Over the event’s three days, compelling content kept on coming, killing my planned lede for this blog. I wanted to use something like, “B2BMX saved the best for last … and here it is.” Instead, read about some of the best learnings to come out of the final day of the conference.

Today began bright and chilly with a push for personalization by Jeff Marcoux of TTEC. Jeff echoed a common theme from the show — that B2B marketing practices ignore the expectation all buyers have, born from their consumer experiences: Technology should deliver personalized, highly contextualized experiences. If it doesn’t, prospects will judge your offering behind the times and move onto your competitors. Because 89% of buyer expect companies to understand their unique needs, but only 10% of companies have broken down their data silos to leverage the full bounty of their intelligence.

Data unencumbered of functional, technological or other silos contributes to the creation of ideal customer profiles. Put up against the total addressable market, targets can be identified for account-based engagement from marketing and sales.

For those already overwhelmed by their to-do lists, Marcoux noted personalization can involve as little effort as addressing the target by name in an email, by industry in a sales enablement deck, by common background in another outreach effort. Minimal research like a LinkedIn visit to determine a target’s alma matter or site visitors’ IP addresses can turn vanilla tactics into personalized communications.

No one attending the Behind the Scenes session by G. David Cunningham of SnapApp felt the usual post-lunch need to nap. In advising attendees to “Ditch the Old B2B Playbook,” Cunningham advocated for feeding the funnel less, not more, in an effort to generate better MQLs and higher sales conversions faster, accelerating the opportunity for relationship expansion.

As with any radical transformation, some of the method and accompanying side effects for achieving these improvements sounded counterproductive to the marketers in attendance. And they expect their colleagues in sales will chafe at the approach. But we heard Cunningham out, and his reasoning made sense.

First, the funnel doesn’t scale. That doesn’t mean that teams turn off the flow, though. With new digital marketing programs in place, they continue traditional sales and marketing practices, too. And across the board, many employ gates on content as a means of gauging interest and active pursuit of new products or solutions.

The gate is outdated, and prospect preferences are changing. They prefer to receive content through company social media, personal and business social networks, and third-party or customer references, but 71% of B2B marketers still champion white papers as a leading content tactic. Uh, that rates as least preferred by every generation of B2B buyers.

But companies continue to develop more white papers AND put lead gates on them. Then when businesspeople download the content, they have maybe a half hour to review it uninterrupted before the publishing company’s sales team places a call. And if the call goes unanswered, the desperate emails start.

So, what should marketers do once they set their playbooks on fire and lose the lead gates?

  1. Rethink lead scoring. Move to qualify leads on sales criteria like demographics or firmographics, team size, technology in use, markets selling to, and scale of spend.
  2. Provide valuable, engaging content. Visual, interesting, dynamic content encourages input from recipients if it resonates with them and provides value to them.
  3. Focus on the next action. Keep leads in marketing longer so as not to bog sales down with contacts that want more self-directed interaction with your brand. Wait until they raise their hands before turning them over to sales. Give sales the heads up on this plan. They may balk at lower lead volumes, but the leads they get will be ready for their calls or emails, close faster, onboard quicker and ultimately expand faster. With this approach, marketing supports sales better and gives them the opportunity to do the prospecting they just couldn’t get to with the scads of so-so leads they used to get as soon as a gate was unlocked.

Are you ready to connect personally and deeply with your prospects and customers in content streams that allow self-directed brand interaction and nurture prospects through the funnel until they raise their hands, request a demo or pricing? If so, Content4Demand is ready to help.