B2B marketing has always been a complex and fast-moving industry. As a marketing agency director and member of the IDM Business-to-Business Marketing Council, with 15 years’ experience on both client and agency-side, Kirsty Dawe gives us her take on the biggest challenges facing marketers today.
How did you get started in the B2B marketing industry?
I actually started my career in a B2C marketing environment (client-side) for a home improvements company. It was a really measurable marketing environment targeting a very specific type of homeowner and with a high-value product. So, when I moved into B2B I loved the fact that I could apply that same measurable approach to everything we were doing. Working in an agency as well, it’s a really KPI driven environment; we know exactly who we’re targeting, what kind of messaging we need to put out, what kind of conversions we need to get and what looks good. That’s why the movement from the B2C environment to B2B worked so well.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing B2B marketers right now?
I think there’s really two. Number one is just the way that the buying process has changed with the advent of online and content. A B2B prospect or potential customer can find out everything they need to know about your business online through content, shared information, forums and social media; before they even talk to anyone within your business. I think that represents a big challenge for marketers because it’s our responsibility to make sure the messaging and the content that we’re pushing out online to our customers educates them as to why they need to choose our solution, product or brand.
Secondly, marketers need to constantly work on smart ways to convert those customers once they’re actually in the sales funnel. It’s all great having amazing content and driving people into that sales funnel, but we need to be thinking of tools and techniques to actually get them over that line, so that they become a sales-ready lead.
What steps should we be taking to overcome this?
So on point one, it’s all about getting inside the mind of the prospect. Understanding what their pains, challenges and drivers are; what really keeps them awake at night. If you can create content that resonates with them then you’re much more likely to generate a response.
The other thing to note is that we shouldn’t be afraid to combine inbound marketing with outbound. While it’s really important that we’re focused on nurturing customers through that sales funnel, we can also be proactive and ask them whether we can have that opportunity to see them and to get that conversion. It’s about creating that balance between the softer approach that inbound has and that harder approach of outbound, to get the best possible result.
How do you keep your B2B marketing knowledge up to date?
Videos; YouTube is fantastic. Reading ebooks and whitepapers, as well as looking to thought leaders within the industry for inspiration. I also make a point of going to some of the events that I consider to be the most exciting within the marketing industry. One that I’ve made a point to attend a couple of times is Dreamforce in San Francisco. I do think that the US is slightly ahead of the curve when compared to the UK in terms of B2B marketing. It’s really exciting to go to these events and hear some of those thought leaders from the industry in the US talking about what they do within their businesses and then taking that and applying that to what we do for our clients and inspiring our clients.
Share the biggest B2B marketing lesson you have learnt…
A B2B purchase is as much an emotional purchase as B2C. Sometimes more so, as it can have more of a long-term impact, so it’s important that we think about that when we’re creating the messaging for our campaigns.
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