Are you looking to build your B2B brand? In this era of inbound marketing, the focus is all digital. The internet is where your B2B brand will flourish (or perish), so it makes sense to concentrate your marketing efforts on strengthening your digital footprint. In this blogpost, we’ll look at the three main components of your organization’s digital presence – your website, blog and activities on social media – and explore how you can maximize your impact in each area for 2018.
First, though, let’s consider how the role of an organization offering B2B products or services has changed. In the past, companies presented information on their products, maybe highlighting the features and benefits, but typically didn’t offer anything more. Now, successful B2B companies have increasingly taken on the role of a trusted advisor, offering insight and guidance into everything from the future of their industries to advice on how their customers can succeed.
This emphasis on thought leadership can be tricky for marketers. Unless your senior execs are fully on board, it can be a challenge to get them to take positions on key topics or issues. But what they’re really doing is just an extension of what they’ve always done – helping customers solve a problem. It’s just doing this within a bigger framework. Whether you’re presenting a benefit of your product, or highlighting where you think your industry is going, your goal is the same – to show your customers a path forward.
So how can you incorporate more of an advisor or thought leader role into your digital strategy?
First, keep the focus on telling a story.
Even though your prospects and customers are in B2B, they still want an emotional connection. If anything, B2B has even more stories to tell, because the products and services we’re selling have a much bigger impact on more people. Think enterprise software, or medical equipment, or IT solution providers. The impact on lives is much more profound than the impact from buying a bottle of Coke, for example. And Coke manages to sell a ton of product based on emotion.
Next, choose your brand ‘voice’ and stick to it.
Are you formal, or casual? First person, or always third person? This will of course depend on your market. Hospital purchasing committees might not appreciate the casual, fun tone that might be suitable for a youth-oriented software. And it’s vitally important to be consistent with your brand voice. Handing your Twitter posts off to an intern might not get the results you want – unless you’ve prepared them with a social media guide for your company and products.
Then, consider your blog.
Is it truly active, with frequent posts on a wide range of topics, authored by different people across your organization? Or do you publish one post monthly, only when you can’t stand it being on your to-do list for any longer? The truth is that a blog is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ element on your website. It’s a must-have, and it requires the same strategy and focus as the other elements in your marketing plan. To be a thought leader/trusted advisor, it’s also important to contribute to other key blogs in your field. What blogs do you read? You likely already know which blogs or news outlets are most important for your industry. Target those, with bylined articles. And start participating in the comments sections for articles and blogs posted on these sites.
When it comes to your website, content is still your key consideration.
This is where storytelling is vitally important. Success stories and real-life examples of your products or services in action are the best kind of content you can create. Remember to frame all content from the perspective of solving a problem. What is the problem faced by your prospects, and how do your products solve it better than anyone else’s? And make sure your website is optimized for mobile. According to Google, 50% of B2B queries are now done on smartphones, and that percentage is steadily increasing.
Lastly, let’s talk about social media for B2B.
Similar to your blog posts, the key here is real engagement. The days of making one post per day to ‘look’ active are over. Companies who succeed at social media are those that devote significant time and resources to it. Do you have a social media manager? If not, you may want to consider one. Social media has implications across your company that go well beyond marketing. Think HR, customer service, reputation/risk management, legal/regulatory affairs … it’s an important element of business now, not just an add-on.
“How to create a knockout B2B brand in the inbound marketing age” – free Infusinar (Living Stone's Event)
Want to learn more about creating a knockout brand in the inbound marketing age? Come to our free Infusinar on March 15, 14h-16h. Living Stone’s Anne-Mie Vansteelant and Gunther Walravens will share tips on how to strengthen your brand to:
- Create value
- Generate valuable leads
- Connect with your customers
- Generate more sales
- Establish a solid reputation