The B2B Asia 2015 Conference in Singapore recently has highlighted some interesting insights from top companies like Rolls Royce, Chevron Lubricants Asia Pacific, Intel Technology Asia, BNP Paribas Securities Services, and Shell. Here are key take-aways on the B2B market from the conference:
- Just like everybody else
B2B customers share similar behaviour as mass consumers. They also conduct their own online research to help them make better decisions before reaching out to brands. B2B customers are just as passionate as any B2C customer. The idea in marketing to B2B customers is to connect that passion than try to market hardware and talk about how good is your business.
- Emotions always win
Switch your marketing approach from promotion to emotion. Thought leadership helps increase emotional share of mind. Boost emotional share through humanisation of brand and leverage its influencers’s power. By strengthening thought leadership through a humanised approach to branding, you can increase your customer engagement. Always remember: it’s not about the products, it’s about the people – be it customers or employees.
- Simplication is key
The nature of B2B decision-making is complex and lengthy, but businesses can make it simple. B2B customers already find it hard to identify trends from a deluge of information and events out there. Therefore, the information you want to share with your customers must be accessible and coherent. Better content and brand experience is necessary to make your business stand out from your competition.
- Everything must be consistent
Marketing touch points must be consistent – from print ads to website, face-to-face meetings to social conversation. The aim is to connect the dots or map your strategy and ensure all your touch points speak the same language. Marketing and sales need to be aligned together. Marketing should be mapped along the sales cycle to convert a visitor into a customer. Sales team should be coached with the know-how in asking the customers the right questions to gain insights instead of talking about features and products. Strategy effectiveness needs to be redefined as generating more leads and sales conversion instead of building brand awareness.
- The people-first approach holds true
Gear your marketing strategy from the customer’s perspective. Become the people the customers want to connect with by sharing your knowledge and expertise. Create a persona that understands the customer’s dilemma. Focus on the frustration and pain points, and capture their thinking and feeling. Find their motivation and open up opportunities to resolve their dilemma. Map the user journey so that you can develop the right content and determine a suitable channel to reach out to your customers.
- Commitment to authenticity
Commitment to marketing doesn’t fall on the marketing department alone. It also involves the entire organisation. Central organisation materials need to be adapted to bring authenticity to what you’re putting out there. Look within the organisation and identify the experts, especially those who may be underutilised. Leverage them as your internal ambassadors. Create a channel for input or feedback from the rest of the organisation as means to help improve marketing approach. The need for internal support is important to ensure uniformity and best practices.
- Face-to-face is impactful
Although LinkedIn is the best channel to engage B2B customers, your message could easily be lost in translation depending on the targeted demographic. According to Intel’s Regional B2B Marketing Manager for Asia Pacific and Japan, Takashi Tokunaga, in-person events work better than LinkedIn, especially in non-English speaking countries. Michelle Toy, BNP Paribas’ Head of Marketing and Communications, Asia Pacific, concurred this finding, citing events as a “good, impactful way to bring them (customers and businesses) together face-to-face”.
- Think “Mobile Now”
Businesses need to make their marketing strategy mobile-friendly. Consider using insights gathered through research and convert them into bite-sized information tailored for mobile media. Use video assets on mobile like two-second video blurbs to engage visually-inclined customers. Enable customer relationship management and analytics tools to measure results on what makes or breaks your budgeting and resources, and what makes you an effective marketer.
- Digital marketing more valuable for B2B market
The value for digital marketing in the B2B market is larger than the B2C because it does not have adequate resources to deliver experience on a local level as compared to B2C. Testimonials from customers are highly powerful to highlight key points to proposition.
- Shorter shelf-life of talent
Staff turnover in companies is getting increasingly higher today, as employees are swift to move on if companies are not thoughtful about their professional growth. It is essential for companies to make the effort to up-skill and re-skill their existing talent pool. Otherwise they may risk losing good talent they already have, and waste time and resources to find and hire, and possibly train, new replacements.