Brave New World of B2B Marketing
Unlike the Aldous Huxley novel, effective marketers have moved away from treating customers like cattle and feeding them marketing soma. Why? Because the buying behavior of capital market buyers has changed dramatically in the past few years, rendering the majority of old-school marketing practices ineffective (and as a result, expensive). Truth be told, old-school marketing was about creating noise to be heard over the competition and get in the door. It used to be about one-way push. Now it’s about two-way engagement.
In earlier times (some might call them “the good old days”), the company with the most marketing dollars often got the most sales, simply because the customer recognized their name. But as more companies enter the race, more companies start making as much noise as possible. The Internet and email make it easier and cheaper to make noise, resulting in a virtual cacophony of marketing claims barraging customers every day – with everyone claiming to be “the leading, number-one, unique, value-added, trusted provider” of “robust, innovative, cutting-edge, high-performance, ultra low-latency technology….”
How can every vendor be the leading provider?
If you’re in marketing or sales and have not heard the terms “content marketing” or “inbound marketing,” it’s time to start paying attention to the evolving best practices in marketing. The pressure is on for marketing to support sales and help to generate revenue. Your performance depends on it.
Let’s face it folks, our customers are not idiots. They’re sick of the noise and they no longer trust the marketing puffery. They’re also getting really good at tuning out the noise. They use spam filters, caller ID, gate keepers, DVRs and any number of other methods to tune out advertising and marketing messages.
That doesn’t mean they’re not still buying, but they’re getting more savvy. They are in control of their buying process. Research shows that most business buyers of technology do all their early research about business problems and possible solutions before they talk to a sales person. In fact, their buying processes are generally 75 percent complete before they’re willing to engage with sales. So how do you go about influencing the buying decision of a buyer who is wary and weary of traditional marketing hype? How do you differentiate yourself from your competition?
Achieving Marketing Alpha
Content marketing is about creating educational content that helps your prospective customers understand their business problems, gain a vision of how to solve the problem and build a business case to get internal buy-in. This content can take the form of whitepapers, blog posts, live events or video. As you provide the prospect with high quality content – information that they can rely on to steer their decisions, you’ll gain their trust and have a significant influence over the buying decision. To quote Ardath Albee, author of eMarketing Strategies or the Complex Sale, “Publishing compelling content builds credibility.” This credibility is what gives you competitive advantage.
At this point you’re probably thinking, “That’s interesting, but how do I get this great content to the customer?
That’s where inbound marketing comes in. This technique uses high-quality content, strategically placed, that is found by prospects who are looking for it and as a result are ready to engage with you. (Talk about warm leads!). According to inbound marketing specialist HubSpot, “72 percent of companies that blog weekly have acquired customers through their blog.” As a new form of lead generation, inbound marketing is bringing in revenue for companies who have really dug in and focused on sharpening their marketing strategy.
The question arises, “O.K., now how do I incorporate inbound marketing and content marketing to my process?”
On Jan. 24, I’ll be discussing this with a panel of the foremost experts on modern marketing in a live web event. These speakers are at the top of their game as authors, bloggers and recognized thought leaders in content and inbound marketing. They will discuss the differences between and the convergence of these techniques as well as practical approaches for getting it done as part of a holistic marketing strategy. The goal of this live web event is to give you clear insight into current marketing techniques, going beyond the hype to what works now. We want you to be better equipped to build a compelling case to gain the funding to implement these techniques.
You can ask questions in advance of the event and online during the Q&A process. I’ll be moderating, and will be joined by:
Mike Volpe, CMO of HubSpot and a master at inbound marketing (HubSpot generates 40,000 leads a month!)
Ardath Albee, author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. Ardath consults for some of the largest technology companies in the world and is well-known speaker on best practices in content marketing.
Robert Rose is strategist in residence at Content Marketing Institute. He co-authored the book Managing Content Marketing – The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers for Your Brand and is also a speaker and consultant in high demand.
Marcus Sheridan ("The Sales Lion") is a master blogger who teaches companies how to blog effectively to bring in business. He’s also the author of three books and numerous e-books. Marcus actually inspired this event when he drew attention to a debate between proponents of content marketing vs. inbound marketing on his blog. That post attracted more than 80 comments. You can read that post here.
Click here to register now.