With COVID-19 shifting most businesses to go fully remote, most sales teams have also had to restructure how they typically do business. No face-to-face meetings. No trade shows and events. No client visits. On one hand, sales can probably be more efficient being forced to rely more on marketing and technology in lieu of in-person tactics. But on the other hand, the disruption in the traditional sales process means that a lot of sales and marketing teams must adapt quickly.
The beauty is that you can create an organic sales engine without having to churn leads and smile and dial. It’s all possible by creating a path to sales that integrates marketing and technology with creative and strategy. Regardless of industry, the size of the company, and whether or not there’s an existing sales team, the 12 approaches below emphasize organic pipeline acceleration and lead generation for B2B businesses. The overarching premise of all of this ties back to the importance of building brand, which is the underpinning of this entire B2B masterclass series. By implementing all 12 of these approaches, the goal is to improve lead generation, conversion rates, and brand awareness and to scale growth from awareness all the way through the post-purchase experience.
Demand generation uses an integrated combination of strategies, tactics, and campaigns that all work together in a funnel approach to attract prospects and engage them every step of the way until the lead converts. Demand generation is effective because the strategies and tactics build upon each other as the prospect interacts with content and engages with the brand. And it works even more efficiently with the use of automation and tracking tools that automatically creates a sequence of events at each triggered behavior as it tracks how the prospect navigates along the funnel process.
To put this in practical terms, let’s take a health care technology company for example. The strategy may be to introduce a new product or technology to mid-size medical centers by distributing a series of educational content around the challenges that these facilities struggle through and how the benefits of the technology addresses each of these pains. If we were to develop a demand generation campaign for this company, we would start by creating a content series using automation and email sequencing to distribute the content based on the prospect’s interaction.
Without giving too much of the strategy upfront in this section, continue reading for the tactics that we would use for this scenario.
Account Based Marketing
If you have a laser sharp focus on the exact prospects that your company wants to win and do business with, then you’ll have a much higher conversion rate by using the Account Based Marketing (ABM) approach. This approach treats individual prospects as a market in their own right by personalizing a marketing strategy just around the pursuit of this prospect. The idea is that if you hone in and become an expert in the prospect’s business, chances are that you will be able to identify exactly what the prospect needs and how to align your product/service to this need.
Using the scenario above from the health care tech company, ABM would create a target prospect list of, let’s say, five high value prospects with a high propensity to convert, stay with, and buy more from the company and would also create a secondary prospect list of another 15 secondary, mid-level prospects where the marketing is not as 1-to-1 but still has some level of personalization.
For the five high value prospects, ABM would craft five separate marketing strategies inclusive of specific messages, tactics, and campaigns for each of the five. The strategy would be executed over time and would zero in as the prospect moves down in the funnel. The other 15 prospects would be included in an email sequence for a series of content.
The common thread in this entire B2B marketing masterclass series is that you have to create thought leadership in order to drive brand. And thought leadership is more than just authoring articles and securing interviews. Thought leadership should happen across all functions of the company, but especially at the top with the CEO.
Continuing with the health tech scenario, our approach to creating thought leadership for the launch of the new product would be to either do a market survey related to the pains and publish that into a report or to do a white paper on key insights or trends in that particular market segment.
What more can we say about marketing automation? Life is so much easier when you automate, but it shouldn’t be so complicated. The marcom stack is cluttered with so many tools and platforms that even choosing the right automation tool can get a little confusing. In simple terms, automate every interaction with the target prospects to include what happens when they read an email, click on a link, interact with a Facebook ad, visit your website, etc.
In our scenario, we would create an email sequence of content and based on how the prospect interacts with the first in the series, the automation tool would trigger the next most suitable email to line up. Once they opened the email, we would’ve also had the Facebook and display ads queued for retargeting.
Inbound marketing is the very opposite of outbound sales. It’s pull, not push. Inbound marketing creates the magnet that draws prospects in with little selling. It’s everything from SEO, PPC, display ads, social media, content marketing, etc.
In the scenario, in addition to all of the previous tactics of thought leadership, ABM, demand generation, and automation, we would also layer it with PPC and display ads. Additionally, the landing page for the key accounts would have maximum SEO juice around the topics that we have researched our decision makers to be interested in.
By now, you should know that we preach about content all the time. In a previous post, we talked about how undervalued content is and that businesses aren’t exploiting content like they should. To be really successful with content, it has to be produced at scale. Content guru Gary Vee says that you should be producing 50-60 pieces of content A DAY! Sounds crazy but it’s possible if you think of content as everything from your Facebook posts, Instagram comment responses, LinkedIn comments, Tweets, blog post, Quora, and everything in between. In a nutshell, you have to become a content factory.
For the healthcare tech firm, we would create a long-form 7-part blog series on the website. We would post this series on LinkedIn and create a few graphics and videos around the content.
Website Personalization & IP Tracking
Website personalization and IP tracking doesn’t get talked about as much but it’s a beast. Personalizing your site for specific visitors means that everything on the page looks and feels like you’re speaking to just that one visitor. There are tools that allow you to insert the name of the company or even insert dynamic text from the ads that attracted your visitor to the website.
IP personalization tracks who your visitors are by IP address to pinpoint what company they’re coming from so that you have a better understanding of who your inbound marketing is attracting. There are some tools that will even create an email contact list of the companies that are visiting your website for further follow up.
Again, the healthcare company has these five high value prospects and the 15 mid-level prospects. Every piece of content that is driving them back to the website should be tracked and retargeted on social, and the IP tracking will confirm who is browsing. The website will personalize their landing page experience so that it speaks to just one.
We are big fans of podcasts at Blueprint Creative. We actually have two of our own.Â With voice activated devices in our homes (i.e. Alexa), on our phones and wrists (i.e. Apple Watch), and even in our cars, everything points to audio someday becoming the search engine of the future. Besides the potential searchability of podcasts, it allows you to engage your audience in a different format especially since a significant number of browsers are doing so from their mobile devices anyway.
We would create a compelling podcast topic for the healthcare tech firm and invite the prospects for guest interviews. That simple.
Digital & Social Media Marketing
If you browse the social media accounts of 500 B2B businesses, most will be boring, self-serving, and sound no different from each other. That’s because these businesses find it difficult to translate complex or “boring” content into digestible social content. Also, too many approach social media as just another brochure, and their posting is haphazard and not strategic. A previous post gives an example of how to transform your social content strategy. In a nutshell, social media should be less about your company and the goods and services that you provide and more about the points of interests that are common for your audience.
For the healthcare tech firm, we would create social content around the prospects and the universe of things that interests them. Maybe there’s a common thread across prospects that they get excited by new software. If that’s the case, we would position a nice chunk of the social content reviewing new software and tech tools.
PPC & Display Ads
There’s not that much that needs to be stated about PPC and display ads since they are the darling of inbound marketing. What we would say is that your PPC campaigns doesn’t need to be just on Google search. Retarget on Facebook and layer Google search with YouTube ads. The latter point is sorely underutilized. YouTube is also a search engine in its own right, which many people don’t often think about.
So we would do the same for the healthcare tech firm. PPC to Facebook and Display retargeting and then create high energy short video content for YouTube ads driven by Google search. And we would track everything to continually test and refine campaigns.
If you build brand, then you create an organic lead generation machine. And you build brand through content and every other strategy mentioned in this post. Your brand messaging is essentially the soundbytes that you reinforce in everything that you do and in every customer touch point. It’s what you mean to your audience and should be memorable and distinguishable. If your brand message sounds like a brochure or like everyone else, it’s not a brand.
For the healthcare tech firm, we would find a sweet spot that they fill that’s not occupied by other competitors and then carve out a value proposition around that to create a brand.
Since business is already happening remotely and Zoom has become our go-to platform, why not use it to create webinars. That’s the fastest way to attract prospects and grow your CRM. We would create a webinar just for the prospects in the scenario above and give them our best advice for free. Go for the wow factor and show them why businesses trust you.
B2B Marketing Series
This post is part of our mini masterclass series to help B2B companies overcome marketing inertia so that it ultimately results in a funnel that generates, nurtures and converts leads to revenue. The entire marketing funnel that we use for B2B businesses consists of pipeline acceleration campaigns, multichannel demand generation, account based marketing, thought leadership, go-to-market strategy, content syndication, webinars, video, in-person meetings, interactive infographic, PPC management, marketing automation, social media and reputation management, and a robust B2B content strategy.