The saying is true: the old monkey has to learn new tricks to survive. This is especially true in B2B marketing, where over the past few years, the Business to Business landscape has had such a drastic evolution, throwing marketing strategies in a state of constant flux. So have you and your business taken a step back and looked at how and why this industry is changing? If not, don’t worry – that’s what we’re here for!
First things first, it’s necessary to understand why B2B marketing is changing. As with most things, there are many reasons for the drastic evolution of B2B sales, but the most important reasons are two-fold.
Firstly, let’s start by looking at the increasing adoption of technology. Digital Transformation around the world is forever changing society, businesses and channels. But what this means for the B2B landscape is that there’s been a shift from selling a physical solution to a virtual one.
Secondly (and most importantly), there’s been a shift in the B2B researcher demographic. The B2B audience is now younger, more aware of the modern world – in other words, “Millennials”. Millennials fall into the age group of 18-34 years old, covering those born in 1980. Since 2014, the change in demographic has seen an increase of up to 70% and it won’t stop there. By 2025, 75% of prominent positions across companies will be filled with Millennials.
If you haven’t been marketing for this age group, then you need to revise your strategy and keep account of all the interests of the millennials. Whats the trick? Make your brand more human, more approachable and more relevant.
How B2B Marketing has changed
“The traditional purchase funnel diagram, one which any marketer could sketch from memory, is officially dead. The singular, orderly sequence of purchase stages has been scrambled, and marketers need to conform. In today’s world, where consumers have access to constant information through computers, smartphones, and tablets, each person’s path to purchase is complex and unique.” Millward Brown Digital
Traditionally, marketing in the B2B landscape relies on a number of factors to drive prospects.
- Events & Trade Shows
- Email Marketing
- Web Advertising
- Cold Calling
However, as the digital world is forever changing, cold calling as we know it, is officially over. With only 2% of cold calls resulting in an appointment, B2B Sales representatives need to change their tactics. Millennial buyers no longer rely on salespeople as their primary source of information. Instead, doing as much independent research as they please, meaning salespeople are dealing with more educated and perhaps trickier buyers than ever before. 90% of researchers begin their research with a common search. Although this percentage has remained fairly consistent, an interesting point is how they are searching has changed. Every day, the number of mobile users increases with more than 42% of researchers being conducted on a mobile device, meaning it’s imperative you evolve your focus to thinking mobile first, then desktop.
How to get involved
“Over 895K hours of some of the top B2B videos from brands were watched in 2014. Nearly half of these researchers are viewing 30 minutes or more of B2B-related videos during their research process, and almost one in five watch over an hour of content.” US YouTube Data
Video marketing has come along way in marketing, and is one of, if not the most important aspect of marketing, with 96% of customers find videos useful when making purchasing decisions. How-To-Videos and testimonial videos are user favourites when making the decision to purchase. Businesses need to start creating short-form vertical videos that are native to social media platforms in order to engage with the millennial generation. If your business already has long form videos then you’ll need to think strategically about transforming into short digestiable content. HubSpot’s data shows the optimal times for social media video are one minute for Facebook, 30 seconds on Instagram, and 45 seconds for Twitter.
A new key aspect within the B2B landscape is Influencer marketing. Although a relatively new hot topic – it’s a powerful tool and is relatively inexpensive. Influencer marketing not only provides validity for your technology but also creates trust. An influencers credibility can lead to shortened sales cycles and a rise in customer acquisitions among other things. Influencers can execute their knowledge through a variety of content ideas such as blogs, YouTube video series or even webinars.
If you want to set your company apart from your competitors then you will dabble, no swim in the thought leadership pool. Thought leadership is all about creating authority on a particular subject by consistently providing deep, insightful information. It’s difficult work that takes time to grow, but if you choose not to focus on creating content that could position your business as a thought leader, you’ll soon realise the missed opportunities in creating a sustainable distinction that will impact your top and bottom lines.
Millennials have helped to creative sharable, interactive events, giving businesses the opportunity to leverage the power of mobile for offline experiences. Creating a buzz around your event that is more powerful then the event itself will lead users to discover your product, culture and content. But in order for this buzz to be successful, your business will need to create content and engagement before, during and after the event.
The B2B market is full of young people, so it’s imperative you advertised your product where they’re found online – Social media. So yes, this means you’ll need to create interesting videos. You’ll need to create a friendly mobile experience. And you’ll need to follow them through the purchase follow. But most importantly, you’ll need to deliver an engaging, humanised approach with a strong emotional narrative in order to inspire a purchase.
Written by Tom Crawford, Content & Editorial Consultant