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B2B Customer Behavior is Changing. What Should Marketers Do?

B2B

B2B Customer Behavior is Changing. What Should Marketers Do?

If there’s anything the last decade has taught us—and that the COVID-19 pandemic punctuated in grand fashion—it’s that businesses must get digital, or they may become invisible. Branding—once an exercise that involved plastic signs, billboards, and newspaper print ads—has now firmly taken up residence in the world of bits, bites, smartphones, wearables, and, occasionally, a desktop computer.

The digital transformation—already fully ensconced when we dropped the ball in 2020—picked up considerable steam in the last year or so. Today, forward momentum in the digital strata is not just required—but mandatory—to assure business growth, especially in the B2B arena.

Customer behavior is changing

About 15 years ago, the one-two punch of social media and email campaigns entered the picture – and established a new method of showcasing your expertise as a means of getting people to look in your direction. Post Covid-19, a McKinsey study on B2B buyer preference showed how much of each phase of the buyer’s journey is being done online in a self-service way. The punch line: there has been a dramatic change in consumer behavior over the past 3 years.

In the research/education phase, there has been an 85% increase in the preference for B2B buyers to conduct their research online. In the evaluation stage, the results are even more dramatic: a whopping 238% increase in buyer preference for self-serve looking for information on the companies’ website.

The implications for a B2B marketer are huge. Now they must literally compete online, providing the information for which buyers are looking, and they need a comprehensive content strategy to win.

Learn how customers want to interact online

What the past decade taught us—and what COVID reiterated in the past couple years—is that the conversation around digital goes far beyond just plain awareness. In fact, the businesses that are the best at digital branding have constructed a lead generation machine around these capabilities. They’ve taken the knowledge of clients’ needs and wants and translated it into an incubation device that effectively appeals to this group.

So, what are some of the ways that you can change the thinking within your business to improve the success of your digital branding efforts? Here are four critical elements every marketer should master:

#1 Know The Decision Makers

In B2B in particular, you’ll often find multiple decision-makers involved in the buying process. That’s OK. This simply means  we have to appeal to each of their “decision journeys.” We have to understand their challenges and obstacles, whether they are a CFO or an engineer, etc. Invariably, they will have different selection criteria, success metrics, and the like.

#2 The “Amazon” Effect

With so much buying activity across the digital space during COVID, a remarkable thing has happened. Now, even B2B buyers want the same type of information and transparency in their professional lives as they get when they make personal purchases from Amazon. These buyers give a thumbs-up to live chat and clear, concise information; and a thumbs-down to having to dig for information, deal with technical issues, and to overly complex websites.

#3 Big M, Little m

It’s time to draw a solid, unbroken, line in the sand. Marketing today—with a capital M—relates to what we’ve mentioned here: real insights and strategies that will drive new business and grow your company. No longer is it satisfactory to lean on “little m” tactics, like pretty pictures that look gorgeous but say nothing.

#4 Marketers: The Business Development Rep’s Best Friend

No longer should marketers consider themselves an ancillary resource to more sales-oriented folk; they should take hands-on responsibility to ensure that their activities drive as many qualified leads to business development as possible. As important is to be in close coordination with business development so the leads that come in get the attention they deserve! Research shows that up to half of sales go to the partner or vendor that responds first. In the past, we’ve done a great job, as marketers, of saying we are experts, but then throwing the ball over the fence to business development. That’s an old way of doing things; now, we should be aligned and attached at the hip as we jointly journey further and further into the funnel. This includes being aligned on the funnel metrics that are used to measure efficacy and success.

Bottom Line

Time is of the absolute essence in today’s marketplace, and you must find that extra gear to operate your digital branding machine.  When you decide to turn on your digital machine, you need to know exactly what you’re looking for and to be ready to respond.

So, how is your company’s digital brand presence? Are you relevant or invisible? If you want to know, a digital audit—to see how your company stacks versus the competition—is a great place to start, and we are ready to help you.

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Adriana Lynch is a Partner and CMO with Chief Outsiders, the nation’s fastest-growing executive-as-a-service company.

manufacturing

Tips to Grow your Manufacturing Business with a Help of a Blog

Nowadays, blogs are proving very useful in growing any business. And the same adage holds true for manufacturing businesses. In fact, if you own a manufacturing business, there are several tips that could prove handy to grow it with the help of a superb blog.

Why Manufacturing Businesses Need a Blog

There are a few reasons why manufacturing businesses need a blog. Firstly, a manufacturing business isn’t like a retail one. In retail businesses, you’ll be mainly selling stuff directly to a consumer. For a manufacturing business, you’ll be selling to both, the direct end-user of the product or even to an intermediary party.

In such cases, a blog can prove very useful to grow the business because an intermediate party might not promote your products as much as you would prefer. And furthermore, a good blog for a manufacturing business can also popularize your products in today’s highly competitive market.

A blog is a superb resource for branding your business and letting people online know that you’re offering excellent products that they would love to use, regardless of whether they are Business-to-Business (B2B) customers or Business-to-Consumer (B2C) buyers.

Tips to Grow Your Manufacturing Business with a Blog

Therefore, here are some excellent tips on how to grow your manufacturing business with a blog. You can adapt these tips to meet your own needs for marketing and promoting your business and products according to their nature and target clientele.

Provide Excellent Content

It goes without saying that content is the king of the blog. Therefore, to attract more visitors to your blog, it would require compelling content that people find interesting, engaging, and relevant to their needs. Content is also called the king of any blog.

This would also help you with the digital marketing processes necessary to promote your blog and get it on top of the Google search engine result page. The better the content, the higher your chances of attracting buyers that translate as customers.

Superb Digital Marketing

While we’re on the topic of digital marketing, here are some tips to consider. Hire a good digital marketer, either as a freelancer or full-time employee to do various digital marketing processes on your blog. That would be useful to rank your blog in the topmost searches of Google. And getting on the top always attracts more attention since nobody usually looks for websites or blogs that appear on the second or third page of Google search results.

Digital marketing processes include Search Engine Optimization- both on-page and off-page, social media marketing, and email marketing, among others. A good digital marketer will be able to offer these services that can help your manufacturing business to have a strong online presence and create a superb brand through a blog and your business website.

Spread Out Through Social Media

As part of efforts to promote your blog for the manufacturing business, also open Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest accounts. That way, you can disseminate information about any new posts on your blog very quickly to your followers. And one of the best things about social media posts about your blog is that it would attract people to share your posts if they’re interesting.

Social media also provides you with an opportunity to interact with potential buyers or others that are interested in your manufacturing business and its products. These people can be your prospective customers. If you handle their queries and suggestions or comments carefully, you could convert them as buyers for your products.

Provide Affiliate Links

You can also provide affiliate links to your own products through your manufacturing business blog. That’s because some 90 percent of buyers trust blogs more than company websites and ads. And they read blogs in the initial stages of buying anything before placing an order. Therefore, a superb blog about your manufacturing business can help swing the decision in your favor.

When you provide affiliate links even to your own business website, you’re actually asking potential leads to take action immediately. Very often, this translates as instant sales for your products and helps your manufacturing business to grow.

Create Email Marketing List

Generally, every blog has a contact form. And you can capture the names, location, and email IDs of persons that comment on your blog through this contact form or comments section. Now, why would a person part with their email IDs? The answer is simple. They’ll give their email IDs only when your content is attractive, useful, and relevant to their needs.

And you can create an email list and use it for email marketing. If you find that any person that comments or contacts you through the blog, you could convert them as customers by making special offers or asking your marketing team to approach these potential leads to secure business for your organization.

Speak About Your Industry

As a blogger for your manufacturing business, you can also provide news and views about the latest happenings in your industry in general. That keeps readers and other stakeholders in such businesses interested in your blog. And that’s also one way of increasing your business blog following. Speaking about your industry through news and news analysis also helps establish yourself and your manufacturing business as a formidable brand in the broader industry.

One more thing that occurs when you speak about the industry is that consumers know that you’re serious about your business. And generally, such consumers can translate as loyal customers too, provided you handle them appropriately. There’s always news and views about the industry and you can simplify these and inform your followers and customers through the blog for self-branding.

In Conclusion

These six tips could help your manufacturing business to grow steadily. Nowadays, a blog is a vital resource for every organization serious about doing business and serving its customers. Some of the largest brands in the world also have their own blogs. And you can open one too for your manufacturing business.