Two influences have emerged that are shaping the approach to B2B strategies. Firstly, changing economic conditions are resulting in a finite market; this sees businesses strongly competing for share of voice to secure sales, which means their communications must make an immediate impact.
Secondly, social media and the web have significantly changed the way we search for information, work and develop our opinions when looking to make critical purchases. Buyers place far more emphasis on the richer information and opinions of others, which they can gather online for themselves earlier in their decision process rather than the marketing and sales messages they receive.
Both these factors have ensured marketers have to work harder to deliver intelligent, content rich, multi-touch, multi-channel campaigns. A review of the best advice available online brought out some key similarities including:
- Engage the sales team early in the development of the SLG strategy, as it’s important to understand the customer they have successfully sold to and the messages they have used and discuss what a good lead looks like to sales.
- Decide how to acquire, build and maintain your data and profile the segments to understand your audience (their needs, responsibilities and pain points so you don’t focus on your own product feature messages in isolation) and then prioritise marketing spend and levels of engagement to propensity to buy.
- Create an ideal journey of the suspect to purchaser experience and map out the type of information that you feel they will need to keep you in their mind and move them to lead and purchase stage.
- Be realistic that suspects may not be ready to buy for 3 to 6 months (or more) and contacts will need to be engaged over a 12 month ongoing programme of communications and plan for this.
- Based on understanding the needs of the audience and how you could communicate over a period of time, determine a selection of communication channels that are cost effective. A combination of proposition campaigning, social media communications and content-rich information communications are the best to build into a communication programme according to industry views. Throughout at all points, having good quality content and a good story to tell rather than a spray and prey approach is critical element to success.
- Developing a way to numerically score leads is an important element to reduce conflict and form a good working relationship between sales and marketing. However, being realistic, it can take up to 12 months to develop a good working system, so both parties must work together to agree it and value it.
- A SLG approach can be a programme strategy that drives the focus of the businesses growth and marketing approach, for that reason the best programmes benefit from the right allocation of time, budget and resources to ensure their success.