B2B Digital Marketing: The New Sales/Marketing Paradigm
Today, Marketing versus Sales no longer has to be a contentious, zero-sum game. Digital has redefined the relationship between Sales and Marketing, establishing a new, more collaborative and powerful paradigm that enables them to build the brand, generate leads and help Sales close deals all at once.
Here are five things that every B2B brand needs to do:
1: Break Down the Walls That Keep Thought Leadership Tied Up
In the B2B space, thought leadership content is core to a brand's value -- it provides important education and insight that influences investment decisions by prospects and clients. Thought leadership can include such content as how the company views client challenges, its point of view on what the future holds and how clients should prepare for it, how its products and services work, how other clients use these products and services, and so forth. A company's thought leadership needs to be digitally activated within the brand experience so it can engage, educate, and compel clients to take action. And now, more than ever, the digital space enables rich content like this to be accessible, compelling, sharable, and actionable.
2: Kill the Campaign
Clients are not going to buy just because marketers launch an advertising campaign. Marketing and Sales need to be ready at the very moment that clients are looking for a solution. The brand needs to be ever-ready to provide the education, inspiration, and relevance at all times, not just with sporadic campaigns. Traditional paid-media flights can still get the initial push off the ground, but when coupled with continual search, distributed thought leadership content, and social marketing, the effect is longer-lasting -- and enables the brand to be there when prospects and clients are ready to engage.
3: Tablets: Build a Pocket Army for Sales and Relationship Managers
Sales and relationship managers are put in difficult situations all the time. They are often alone when the client asks a great question; they know the basic answer but may not have the depth of knowledge to satisfy the client. That's when they wish they had the full army of their company behind them -- with the ability to access any case study, any point of view, or any company expert and present it to clients on the spot. Now, through the use of tablets and other mobile devices, Sales can access that content, or points of view from the experts themselves, and present it instantly, wherever they are.
This also has the added benefit of governing what the Sales team delivers. Sales people are well known for their resourcefulness. When they cannot easily find what they need, they often take matters into their own hands and produce content on their own, some of which is off-brand. Innovative B2B marketers are enabling their Sales teams with tablet platforms like the iPad, giving them the content they need while governing the brand experience at the same time.
4: Reset Skills Within the B2B Marketing Team
Sales people and relationship managers have special talents. They can sell, they can nurture a relationship, and they can make it rain. But none of these talents make them digital experts. Let them do what they do best -- sell and manage relationships. To give them the digital support they need, the B2B marketing team needs to reinvent itself with new skills and strategies.
For instance, B2B marketers need to embed themselves more closely within the Sales and relationship management process so that they can understand their journey, and where digital content can influence the prospect's decision. They need to be able to create content, communities, and media plans that are integrated, but also distinguish between the needs of the decision-makers and the influencers of the decision. They also need to be able to integrate brand and product marketing efforts into sales driven CRM behaviors. All of this requires rethinking traditional skill sets, marketing partners, and operating models.
5: Think Big, Start Small.
One can easily stagnate under the weight of too much opportunity. Don't. Instead, think big ideas, but implement in smaller chunks. Live in beta. Learn from mistakes and build on the bright spots.
For example, create and distribute branded thought-leadership content for a single line of business at a time, learning along the way before rolling out enterprise-wide. Build and test mobile sales apps for a small group of Sales people, and then roll out to others when the beta group can endorse it. Build out a re-engineered marketing organization one unit at a time, e.g., one line of business, one segment, one capability at a time. In starting small, you can get your organization to go someplace really big.