In 2015, the McKinsey Quarterly announced a new golden age of marketing where marketers were "boosting their precision, broadening their scope, moving more quickly. and telling better stories." Today, this story still holds true. Although marketing spend remains under more scrutiny than ever in the growing B2B technology market, today's leading marketers are using all the latest tools at their disposal to make great strides in five core areas - science, substance, simplicity, speed and story to generate sales-ready leads. Read the rest of the blog where we look at these five elements in more detail.
McKinsey believes this magical quintet provides the basis for faster, simpler and more insightful marketing that will ultimately change the way that a business communicates with potential customers. At Axon Garside, our aim is to help companies in the B2B technology space capitalise on these conditions with IT marketing that drives lead generation and business growth.
Armed with more data and analytical tools than ever before, marketers are now able to target their efforts with much greater precision. Collecting customer data on a massive scale is now possible, while marketers can use data insights to make real-time decisions. Some of the most successful B2B campaigns take a systematic and data-driven approach to manage their sales pipeline.
Utilising big data in this way can help you focus on individual prospects and really hone in on their particular pains and challenges. This in turn, will help you provide more personalised content at every step of the buyer's journey, making for more effective lead nurturing.
There is evidence to suggest that marketing has absorbed more responsibility and the function is starting to "shape the substance of the business". According to McKinsey, B2B marketers are well placed to adopt a leadership role because they understand customers and their relationship with the business. Additionally, it means marketers are in a more informed position to help differentiate its products, services and even experiences from those of competitors and express the key USPs to buyers.
As such, understanding more about the customer and what makes them tick can make the case for numerous kinds of customer-centric initiatives across the business. From consistency in the customer experience to creating the right products and services your customers actually want and need - it begins to show your B2B tech business as being transparent and innovative.
This kind of substance, tied in with the digital tools of today, is a key ingredient to building better relationships with your buyers and making them feel more confident about putting their trust and investment into your business.
Today's always-on business culture creates urgency and marketers have responded by becoming more agile. Speed can be achieved in a variety of ways, such as fostering closer relationships between marketers and other teams (such as sales or product development), as Google has done.
However, in the HubSpot State of Inbound 2017 report, only 22% of respondents said they had a formal SLA between marketing and sales and an underwhelming 8% of salespeople claimed the leads they received from marketing were high quality. This disconnect between sales and marketing could be affecting the speed in which your business responds to different triggers in the industry like ever-changing consumer preferences.
Another factor that could affect speed is the complexity of your B2B tech business. For example, expanding office locations and taking on new channels and specialities can lead to complicated hierarchies, silos of information, cumbersome communication gaps and more.
The answer? Reducing complexity will help to increase speed. Many large organisations are reforming with the use of technology to improve communication and remove unwieldy hierarchies and silos. By simplifying how your B2B company works will be able to help speed up a number of problems and challenges across you organisation and start making customer service the focus - allowing you to bring in more leads and close them quicker.
Even with the advances in today's technology, creativity is still more important than ever. The challenge for B2B tech brands is creating a powerful story that "echoes through cyberspace" using the latest digital interactions. One option technology marketers should actively be embracing is video marketing. Video is on the rise and will represent 80% of all internet traffic by 2020 according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Complete Forecast.
Research by the IDG states that tech decision-makers are relying on video content during the purchase process - 95% of whom watch a technology-related video. This, followed by researching a product or service, visiting a vendor's website or sharing the content with colleagues.
With this in mind, considering that modern tech decision-makers are already heavily engaging with video content, it's vital to start investing in video as part of your B2B marketing strategy.
Barriers to Growth
Although technology is a key enabler of the opportunities identified by McKinsey, not all technology companies are well placed to take advantage. For example, the challenges facing IT resellers or distributors are particularly clear.
Many IT re-sellers have long-standing relationships with product vendors that can actually hamper their marketing efforts. The messages they broadcast are closely tied to their products (in many cases based on collateral provided by the vendor), which makes it almost impossible for these companies to stand out in a consolidated market. The leading players in this space have realised that the solution is to shift the focus from product to the services and additional value the company offers. And the best way to do this is through content and understanding your buyer intimately.
B2B technology companies that are unable to move beyond their vendor relationships to develop an independent value proposition need to build awareness and trust through content marketing. Without this, they will find it extremely difficult to create an effective technology marketing strategy that will draw in the right B2B leads.
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This blog was originally published in 2015 and has been updated in 2018 to ensure correctness and quality.