A Message from Chris Penhale, Partner & Marketing Strategist:
Thanks for checking out this article! If you’ve read articles or downloaded guides or reports from marketers in the past, you’ve probably skimmed them and felt they lacked value, substance and actionability. Often times, those “theory” pieces are lightweight ramblings that require the assistance of the authoring company to see “results.” This is NOT that article. The purpose here is to provide ACTIONABLE tactics & insights that, when implemented, will help your company grow. The secrets in this article are plucked from our proven, results-driven process that has helped many clients attract, engage, interact with & convert more buyers.
Now, what’s my end game? For the sake of transparency, it’s earning your trust, then earning your business. I’m hedging my bet that providing value and empathy will ultimately win out. We know that modern marketing can be confusing, overwhelming and difficult to determine what will work best for your business. Not only are today’s buyers less reliant on traditional sales processes but we also are met with an obnoxious amount of opinions and options that make choosing the right solution & partner to meet your goals a challenge. When implemented, the 13 tactics in this article will provide clarity, growth and results. If you ever find yourself stuck, have questions or want an opinion… my hope is that you remember some bit of value attained from our content and think, “I should call Adventure.”
1. Target Smarter
Stop targeting leads based on a gut instinct of what your ideal prospect looks like! Take a smarter, more effective, scientific approach that takes the guesswork out of prospecting, and only identify prospects that mirror previous successes.
Use this IDeal™ Account Discovery Spreadsheet and populate with your top 50 clients, including information like Company Name, City, State, Zip & Website. Next, append missing demographic attributes like SIC Code, NAICS Code, Sales Volume, Employee Count & Year Established. This information can be located using a free tool like Manta’s “Find a Business.” Then, view the charts and graphs sheet to easily identify trends and anomalies in your top 50 clients. Share the report with your team to draw conclusions, formulate decisions and build your IDeal Account Profile. Finally, take that profile to a marketing partner to pull account reach reports and lists to see how many accounts match your IDeal Account Profile. PRO TIP: Authorized list reseller marketing partners not only know the best data source to pull your specific data but also can save you more money than buying directly from an online broker.
At the end of the day, business-to-business sales is still a people-to-people business! Now that you have your IDeal Account Profile, to relevantly market, you need to identify and document the demographic & psychographic commonalities of the people that hold the power to use you.
Use this Persona Profile Report Spreadsheet and only populate with the personas that match your IDeal Account Profile. Next, think about the specific buyer or decision-maker at each account. Document their demographic info like Age, Gender, Job Title & Level of Education. Then, document their psychographic info like Channel Preference, Purchasing Goals, Value Propositions & Unique Selling Propositions that got them to choose you. Finally, marry your IDeal Account Profile with the demographic information, and give it to a marketing partner to pull lead reach reports for available email records, as well as audience counts on Facebook & LinkedIn. Take the psychographic information and use it to craft messaging standards that speak to your target audience and begin implementing it in your sales & marketing efforts.
3. Voice of Customer
Just because you have a smart sales team that knows your buyers doesn’t mean their gut instinct is always right. Validate the hypotheticals with voice of customer.
Take the psychographic documentation from your Persona Profile Report, and reword each of your hypotheticals into questions. For example, if you determine one of your Value Propositions is your company’s ability to make the most durable products, rephrase to ask “What values do you find in our products, and why did you choose us?” Follow suit rewording each hypothesis, then use an unbiased third party to interview your clients and ask the questions. We recommend a third party as, oftentimes, customers will hold back or tell their supplier what they want to hear. Document each answer and compare to your hypotheses. Revise as necessary, and update your Persona Profile.
4. Create Killer Content
Now that you’ve created your IDeal Account Profile and validated your Persona Profile, it’s time to create relevant messaging that motivates, moves and inspires your prospective buyers.
Take your validated profile report, and review all customer-facing assets like your Website, Brochures, Presentations, Tradeshow Displays, Blogs & Social Posts to ensure messaging is on point and in alignment. Utilize a member of your team or hire a copywriter to update or create new content that reflects your validated persona profile messaging standards.
5. Build a Lead Magnet
A lead magnet is an irresistible “bribe” offering a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information. Lead magnets work wonders engaging “tire kickers” that just aren’t ready to talk to sales. Implement them in email marketing, social, direct mail, website and digital ads to fill the top of your funnel with new prospects.
The most effective lead magnets should help your intended audience and be void of intentionally “salesy” messaging. (Don’t worry, that will come once the prospect takes the bait and you begin nurturing). Lead magnets come in many forms: guides/reports, cheat sheets, toolkits/resource lists, video training, assessments/tests, white papers, case studies, top 10 lists, quizzes, etc. Think about your target audience and what would turn them on! Then, get to work and create your own lead magnet, or hire a marketing firm with a copywriter on staff to help you out.
6. Get Found!
When today’s buyers have a need or a pain point, 72% search Google using basic keyword searches and phrases. If your website shows up in the top 5 organic listings, you can expect traffic! Optimizing your website for search engines will increase your rank!
To begin, determine the keywords you want to rank for. There are tools like www.semrush.com that will provide a list of the top organic keywords your website ranks for, the monthly search volume and your current rank. Use these reports to make decisions on the keywords you want to improve rank on. Next, go back to your website and adjust your title tags, meta tags, H1 tags, URL structure & site content to reflect the keywords you want improvement on. These on-page adjustments tell Google what your site is about, which allows them to provide more relevant results in searches.
To throw gasoline on the fire and really improve your rank, you need to execute off-page tactics like link-building from trusted, authoritative sites. Google sees the right backlinks as “votes” that say, “this site is relevant & credible” and use that as a metric to move you up the ranks. Another helpful tactic is to submit your site to Google’s search console so it is crawled and indexed. Optimizing your website for search can be a full-time job and is often best left to the experts. So, for the best results, reach out to a marketing firm that understands the latest Google algorithm updates and best practices to increase your rank.
7. Make Your Website a Sales Tool!
No matter the channel or tactic, 96% of buyers will visit your website BEFORE reaching out to sales. For many, your website serves as a first impression. A B2B website should have 2 goals: Convert the buy-ready and Engage the “tire kickers.”
Get out of your own shoes and into those of your prospects. How do they interpret your website? Is it easy to understand? Are there clear calls to action? Does the content reflect the value propositions and unique selling propositions you validated during the voice of customer process? Does it funnel visitors based on their job function or industry? Is it mobile-friendly, and does it load quickly? Can an active buyer easily find contact info on each page? Is there gated content (like a Lead Magnet), that can engage a tire kicker? Objectively walk through your site page by page answering those questions, and document improvements. Test your website’s speed using Google’s Test My Site tool, and to ensure your site displays properly on mobile devices, use their Mobile-Friendly Test. Implement changes to improve those scores if lacking.
8. Determine the Micro & Macro
Marketing is all about conversions… not just converting the sale but stacking small victory on top of small victory in order to build momentum. Here, you need to identify the micro & macro conversions that signal intent and level of sales-readiness.
Micro Conversions like lead magnet downloads, “contact us” page visits, newsletter signups and literature requests are the actions taken by a prospect that signal interest, but not necessarily buy-readiness. Macro Conversions like meeting or demo requests, emails, form submissions or phone calls are actions taken that send a strong signal of intent or buy readiness. Both conversion types can vary by industry and size of sales team. But, by creating and implementing micro & macro conversions into your tactical marketing approach, not only will it help you determine individual campaign ROI, but in the digital arena, can help trigger deeper sales engagement to escalate micro to macro & macro to sale-ready.
9. Stand Out!
In “Target Smarter,” “Personification” and “Voice of Customer” you documented and validated what your buyers are looking for, why they buy and what channels they use. Now, it’s time to put it all together and go to market!
Determine your sales & marketing budget and begin researching the most cost-effective ways to get the most out of the channels your prospects frequent. We typically find a balance of traditional & digital tactics bode well in the B2B space. Because you’ve done much of the legwork up front, execution of individual tactics is now easier to deploy because you are now delivering the RIGHT message to the RIGHT person at the RIGHT company on the RIGHT channel. That’s smarter, more effective marketing!
10. Get Social
Yeah, we’ve heard it before… “My customers aren’t on Facebook” or “My LinkedIn Page hasn’t gotten me one sale!” Guess what? We don’t doubt it, but our hunch is you might be looking at it incorrectly!
So many B2Bs are quick to discount the power of social media because they assume the objective is about getting followers & likes… and it’s not. 79% of online adults are on Facebook & 133 million people in the US have a LinkedIn account. For B2B, the power of social comes when you target your ideal prospect, throw an ad in front of them (perhaps promoting your lead magnet), harvest their eyeballs and move them off of social and onto your web properties. Social media is underpriced attention right now — you can try it with as little as $5/day — and with their robust targeting tools, it is easy to reach the right people. Set up an ad account on Facebook & LinkedIn and explore custom audiences and campaigns.
11. Automate to Elevate!
Elevate your sales team by automating marketing to engage, nurture, convert & get more out of existing customers.
Not all salespeople are created equal… only the best salespeople successfully nurture cold leads from the top of the funnel down by making regular, relevant touches providing the right content at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Not to mention, B2B sales typically have longer buy-cycles, which means salespeople instinctively spend more time following up, answering questions and providing details to the warmer leads and, often, neglect the cold leads.
Think of automation like email marketing on steroids, allowing you to build out email sequences, landing pages and triggers specific to your goals. Contrary to traditional email marketing, automation allows you to send all touches in a specific order at predetermined intervals. So, whether a lead comes in today, tomorrow, a month from now or a year from now, they begin each program from the beginning, on their own schedule, allowing you to control the narrative and tell the story you want in the order you want.
Understanding and setting up automation for your company can be challenging. Popular platforms like Pardot, Marketo, Keap and SharpSpring offer tools and resources to guide you through the learning curve, but often require a significant investment of time & money. If you want to cut to the front of a line and save time and money, consult with a marketing partner who will work with you to understand your buyer and sales objectives and help you map out automated workflows specific to your company, buyers & budget.
12. Prove ROI
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
– John Wanamaker
To this day, marketing pioneer John Wanamaker’s quote rings true for many marketers… but it doesn’t have to. In a digital world, campaign & program analytics are just a click away. But having access to detailed reporting doesn’t always translate to proving ROI. Before any marketing endeavor, you need to determine what success looks like so you know when you get there. Mapping out your goals, as well as micro & macro conversions, for each campaign is imperative to help formulate the data points that will drive your reporting and ROI. Using tools like Google Analytics, Facebook & LinkedIn pixels, GURLs/PURLs & your automated marketing or email dashboard will help you measure performance. If you are running several ongoing campaigns, we recommend monitoring individual performance, as well as a monthly comprehensive review compiling the metrics & ROI of all campaigns. Use this data to help make adjustments and continually improve.
13. Partner Up!
According to Marketing Sherpa, in a survey of 1700 B2Bs, the top 2 barriers to marketing success are “Lack of resources in staffing, budgeting or time” and “Inability to stop executing & think strategically.”
In a perfect world, those barriers wouldn’t exist, and you’d have a world class marketing team working for free in your office. Unfortunately, that isn’t reality. Often, marketing is left to either: a capable, yet overwhelmed entry-level hire, “Betty” the office manager or that old print shop that now dabbles in web design. If growth is the goal and you can’t afford to staff an internal team of strategists, designers, developers, content writers, data analysts and tacticians, then finding the right partner(s) is a must. So, how do you do it? Knowing where to search can be the trickiest part.
Think about the things you need in a marketing partner (i.e. SEO, campaign strategy, web design, social), then take to Google and compile a list of potential partners. Another avenue is to look for recommendations. Just ask around. Are there industry peers you feel are “doing it right?” If so, reach out and ask who they use. When assessing a partner, consider their client list, verticals in which they specialize, size of the agency, reputation and capabilities. Ask them for an in-depth presentation as to why they should be chosen. If you like the way that goes, ask them to assess your company free of charge and make suggestions for improvement. And most importantly, date before you get married. Make them prove themselves by formulating a comprehensive roadmap to meeting your goals before signing a long-term contract.
We understand that modern marketing can be overwhelming. We hope you are able to implement these tactics or share with your team and begin increasing sales today. If you ever get stuck or want the opinion of a company that lives in the B2B marketing world and regularly gets results for clients, reach out to us!