You’ve heard it all before, so I’m not going to start at the top with the talk of funnels and buckets and other household items-turned-business-figures-of-speech. Instead, I’m talking about real, proven items that provide ROI for your marketing department. Here are six ideas currently under-utilized in B2B tech.
- "B2B tech" is way too general
- There’s always a human side
- Helping prospects find honest opinions is good
- Sharing honest opinions of your own can be great
- Listen to all and hear commonalities to save time (and headaches)
- Communities can be powerful
1. "B2B Tech" is Way too General
Despite the promise of B2B tech secrets, that still feels too general in 2016 as the landscape is constantly broadening. The first rule of B2B tech is to not refer to it. A better focus for marketing purposes would be to identify the team of people at a prospect’s company who would sit down and consider buying your product. Is it a marketing team? One that's IT or data heavy? Maybe there’s a unique combination of sales or IT. Either way, the messaging can reflect that.
Identifying that team within an organization will make content strategy easier, including but not limited to:
- Longtail SEO targets
- Email subject lines and headline titles
- Prioritizing channel advertising
- Highlighting use cases and pain points
2. THERE’S ALWAYS A MORE HUMAN SIDE
We’ve all seen the conferences when the speaker provides a story of some clever marketing insight that made the company millions—and the company sold coffee or was a sneaker brand that “inspired” its customers. We think, “That’s fantastic, but how does that apply to B2B?"
It’s a different game we’re playing over on this side, but there’s always a more human side with which to establish emotional connections. My first step is always to fill in something like this:
"Our company makes [job title or department’s] professional lives [blank].”
Communication with sales is a great place to start. It’s incredibly valuable to have your conceptual ideas crushed by someone in sales who says “a CFO absolutely won’t care about that." Finding out what the CFO, CIO or VPs do care about may reveal the human connection you’ve been searching for.
Slack and Asana are two examples of showing you what they do in simple, human terms:
There’s “always” a more human side because messaging in B2B tech is never final. Certain consumer goods have followed the same recipe for 50 years. Imagine that in this space? Even if your messaging has hit a home run with one target, such as accountants, your product is probably evolving so that it now needs to apply to another one. When we roll our eyes at B2C marketing and think, “How does inspiration apply to us?” there is always an answer.
3. HELPING PROSPECTS FIND HONEST OPINIONS IS GOOD
In what has been called “The Yelpification of Tech,” third party reviews are now a major factor in the B2B buying process, whether they come from professional analysis sites like Forrester or from past or current users. Combined with case studies and customer testimonials on site, what you’ve got is a growing need to showcase thoughts and opinions other than your own.
In Bynder’s marketing, we encourage people to go to G2 Crowd or Capterra to get an idea of the entire vendor landscape within our niche. It’s scary to relinquish that control over the information, but it’s important to make sure people know where to find third party information away from your site. “We have your attention, and we’d like to direct it elsewhere." Does that show confidence, or is it just plain crazy?
4. SHARING HONEST OPINIONS OF YOUR OWN CAN BE GREAT, TOO
Avis famously became Hertz’s equal by first being honest about its inferiority. “We try harder” was born from their admission that, as the number two car rental service, they couldn’t afford to not work harder for you.
This, and a handful of other great examples, are the backbone of Doug Kessler’s “Insane Honesty” presentation. I heard it two years ago and haven’t thought the same since. If you read one other thing today on B2B content marketing, read through that.
His theory states that true honesty accomplishes the following:
- Signals Confidence: Comfortable in what the company is and isn’t
- Establishes Trust: If it’s willing to tell you what it doesn’t do, it must be telling the truth when it says what it does do
- Alienates Less Likely Buyers: If someone is turned off by a little honesty, the likelihood is that they would never convert, or maybe would become an unhappy and high-maintenance client
- Attracts Ideal Prospects: Those that stay interested will like you for exactly what you are.
Leads are always getting weeded out for one reason or another in B2B tech, so maybe the right dose of honesty can act as a qualifier, using charm to convert a few more ideal prospects and weeding out some segments that were never going to make it down the funnel in the first place.
5. LISTEN TO ALL AND HEAR COMMONALITIES TO SAVE TIME (AND HEADACHES)
There’s this conceptual notion that every single piece of information within a company can contribute to better marketing. There’s also the very concrete fact that problems are solved within every department of a tech company, and the world might be interested to hear about some of them.
Everyone in the organization has an opinion on what marketing should do more of or be better at. Most of those opinions are valid. It’s important to field an even amount of input across teams. The first key is balance. The second is discerning the common threads across each in order to appease the most people quickly. Maybe, just maybe, you can kill a few birds with one stone instead of just wanting to kill someone.
6. COMMUNITIES CAN BE POWERFUL
We talk about "audience" all day long, but the idea of community should also be a focus. It’s important to see the company as a collection of products and professionals that fit into different categories. There are probably any number of communities that would appreciate perspective from a particular facet of your organization.
For example, within Bynder’s industry of Digital Asset Management, there is a community of taxonomists and library science experts. They often have advanced degrees in that field, and their perspectives are valued. Our experts tend to be pretty busy but when available, they’re a tremendous asset for content ideas and creation.
This very blog is just another example of how professionals rely on communities for content. First, it’s about finding the right communities. Then, the trick is establishing your brand within them in an organic, long-term fashion.
A few years ago, I heard Seth Godin say, “Don’t shout at the normal people, whisper to the weird people." Connecting with fewer people who are passionate about a subject is more powerful than connecting with the masses who are apathetic. Communities are a place to find those groups that are the passionate few.
These six secrets seem to point to ideas of specificity, honesty and clarity. We are in an advanced age where the customer knows what we are after, and we know that they know what we are after. Anything that creates a more honest dialogue with a more receptive audience has a chance to break through and make a splash in B2B tech.