How a change in your B2B marketing asset stack could build resilience as well as customers
In my last articleI talked about the B2B Precipice, and why B2B influence is changing the kinds of marketing assets that actually generate returns.
This time I’m going to take you through some of those asset changes.
I’m doing this because I’m seeing many companies doing the wrong thing when it comes to their marketing stack for changing times. That worries me. And I want to do what I can to help fix it.
So let’s start with the standard marketing asset stack.
You basically have three categories of marketing assets:
- Internal communication materials, including training, brand guides and collateral for your sales team;
- Public facing materials for brand awareness and customer engagement; and
- Customer and stakeholder facing materials for qualified leads and customers, as well as reporting materials for compliance and shareholders.
Within these categories you have an array of possible outputs:
Text and brochureware:
- Case studies
- Blog posts
Visual and media assets:
- Website content
- Webinars, audio and video podcasts
- Posters, billboards and tradeshow assets
Sales, Reporting and Training:
- Annual reports
- Sales materials and work proposals
- Marketing automation
- Training materials (internal and external)
Traditionally companies have focused on production of advertisements and trade show collateral, and then focused on sales and reporting. But with the rise of the internet and later social media, the way that customers find products and services has shifted, and so the emphasis has turned more to shareable content.
Social media and ad sales became the new gold. And since the rise of the influencer, social assets have just exploded for all companies — B2C and B2B.
Representatives from research organizations have already tracked a huge shift to online research and influencer-led decision making in B2B sales, just in the last couple of years. Lilah Raynor from Logica Research has noted:
Just a couple of years ago, Gartner, Inc. published findings that showed 27% of buyers’ time was spent on independent research online, while 17% of their time was spent meeting with suppliers. Today we’re witnessing a shift. The need among B2B buyers to simplify and streamline their purchase decisions as much as possible is accelerating.
Sales enablement is happening online at double the rate it was happening pre-pandemic. And much of the research for product and service providers is based on what reviewer sites and independent influencers are saying, as well as employees within the firms of the companies that are trying to sell their wares.
Decisions are being made about products not on glossy brochures, but on whether there are people advocating for products and services — word of mouth marketing, visible and available online.
Companies that are drawing the attention of B2B buyers are using webinars, infographics and highly shareable visual content, as well as engaging influencer reviewers and commentators who will provide trustworthy information about product experiences. They also allow their own employees to share information about the organization and its activities, because this grows the company’s reputation online. If an employee is standing up for their own company, and speaking out on social channels, spontaneously and candidly, then the company gets credibility points. If employees say nothing at all, that’s considered a red flag in a B2B purchasing journey.
So B2B companies need to shift nowto influence-based marketing asset development.
The good thing about this change in B2B procurement behavior is that it doesn’t just mean you have to think about one-way communication from the company to the customer. Influence can also drive intelligence gathering about how your market is shifting and how your product line can improve.
And understanding how your market is shifting is crucial to building resilience.
Across the world we’ve all experienced significant disruption over the past couple of years. We know, first-hand, just how much markets have shifted. Watching how audiences are engaging with online materials and influence commentary has really been the only way to get across what was going on.
But the pandemic happened to us all simultaneously. We all knew we were facing disruption together.
The next disruption to face your business is not likely to be so uniform and clear. You need to keep your eyes on the market to see what new players are coming into your territory and what your customers need and want from your products and services. And if you’re not continuing to watch the way that the public are engaging with your marketing assets online, then you may just miss the next disruption to hit your industry. So B2B influencer assets and engagement tracking helps build awareness of what the market wants, and allows you to respond sooner to change. It builds resilience.
If you are in B2B, the opportunity you have right now is to look over your marketing asset stack and prioritise development of content that can be shared by influencers and your employees.
This will give audiences a sense of trust in your brand, and it will also ensure that you are not relying on tired, old brochureware.
The effectiveness of that stale approach to B2B marketing is vanishing faster than we would ever have imagined prior to the pandemic. In the meantime, B2B influencer-led marketing is seriously contributing to streamlined procurement processes undertaken via online research.
Better still, a B2B influencer-led marketing asset strategy is likely to help you see more clearly into the future for your company. You can better gauge what customers want from you, and B2B influencer commentators can help you build out more of the content that you can then make available to qualified leads, customers and other stakeholders.
Right now, B2B businesses should be flipping their focus on marketing assets, not just to stay on track with B2B procurement trends, but because it’s the best way to understand the future of the company.
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