Effective B2B marketing that connects with decision-makers is no easy task. Splashy campaigns and in-your-face ubiquity can get your brand out there and even turn some heads. But when it comes to putting money on the table, even the best B2B marketing will not stop decision-makers to head straight to their existing networks first. And why wouldn’t they? It’s an intelligent way to reduce risk, slash the time involved in the vetting process, and to cement those all-important industry relationships already in place.
According to a recent International Data Corporation poll, although decision-makers peruse B2B marketing, industry publications and quality vendor content when gathering information, It’s the recommendations from industry peers and colleagues that strongly sway their final decision. After all, when you tap into your networks, you’re tapping into relationships built on common experiences, values, and goals – and that presumably have your best interests in mind.
These often-large financial decisions have long-term implications.
And decision-makers must show they’ve conducted their due diligence and that they’ve mitigated the overall risk. After all, this is their professional reputation at risk and potentially their job on the line. This phenomenon gets played up all the time in the B2C space, with companies frequently positioning themselves as a customer’s friend or confidante. But things are a bit different when it’s another business that your brand is trying to engage and transform into a partner.
Building trust in your business
To market successfully in the B2B space, your approach should leverage or complement a network-first system and its inherently trust-based nature. This framework of experienced professionals will help establish credibility and trust in your brand and offerings.
There are a couple of ways a brand may go about doing this. Start by sharing your expertise. When possible, take on the role of an unbiased expert – an authoritative voice without vested interests. Depending on your business and industry, you can do this through individual experts, or as part of the company-wide approach.
As a consultant, you might prepare in-depth case studies that illustrate new ways of overcoming a problem and present these in person or online. A company might produce larger-scale research-based resources such as whitepapers or articles that contain primary research that offer thorough analysis and new insight – while remaining impartial. These resources can be disseminated online, or be presented at seminars, conferences or other industry events.
The Golden opportunity – Lead Nurturing
Another approach to communicating with key B2B players is in the lead nurturing process. Here a brand has the opportunity to gradually build trust with a potential client from the very beginning of the sales cycle, and to see the relationship through to the purchasing stage and beyond.
The email has traditionally been the cornerstone of these campaigns, but social media has become a key channel in lead nurturing – which shouldn’t be a surprise given that its ability to be shared around by colleagues and professionals gives it both high-trust and word-of-mouth cachet.
Make it easy for B2B decision-makers
The above approaches can help establish your business as a trusted leader with in-network status – and one with enough clout to help sway marketers and decision-makers. But don’t forget to keep in mind the typical profile of the people you’re trying to reach.
These directors and executive-level professionals are busy, swamped with information, juggling personnel and budgets, and often trying to solve a series of problems that crop up on the fly.
These individuals will vary in their level of tech-savviness but are mostly educated, experienced and natural multi-taskers accustomed to consuming information in a range of short-burst formats. To connect with these professionals you’ll need to find a way to make their lives easier. Offer timely material that clearly identifies and solves the pain points that keep them up at night. Keep it short, but not superficial, and incorporate time-savers such as abstracts, executive summaries and even design work such as graphs and charts if appropriate.
High-quality content will draw information-hungry decision-makers to your published material, and informative, engaging social media is a great way to highlight your content while building a community around your business. A presence on key industry organization websites, at industry events or in trade publications will further build trust and visibility while potentially developing key customer relationships.
By thinking in terms of trust and networks, you’ll be able to develop both around your brand, and over time your business will become the kind of industry leader that decision-makers look to for long-term partnerships.