Better. Faster. Cheaper. That seems to be the mantra of senior management as they pressure marketers to do more with less during these trying economic times. But B2B marketers aren’t the only ones feeling the squeeze. Many of your customers and prospects are facing similar challenges. But what can you do about it? A lot actually.
As your customers and prospects muddle their way through this economic debacle, chances are that they need assistance. Given that, now’s your chance to help them when they need it most. But first you need to engage with them, and help them understand how your products/services can address their needs. Below are 4 tips on how B2B marketers can boost their engagement efforts.
Leverage your #1 asset
For some reason, marketers underestimate the value of tapping into their existing customers for valuable information. This is a big mistake. As a B2B marketer, you need to capitalize on what your existing customers can tell you. Reach out to them. Ask them about the specific things that keep them awake at night. Is it pricing? Quality? Shrinking demand? This is the very information you need to better speak to your prospects.
Use this information to customize your content, ad copy, landing pages and overall offering. If your customers indicate that quality is a primary concern, then perhaps you can provide testimonials, satisfaction guarantees, or feature product/service reviews prominently on your landing pages. If they express concern about pricing, then identify incentives that will mitigate their concerns.
Tap into social media
But beyond reaching out to existing customers, you can also gain tremendous insight about what’s on their minds – and on the minds of your prospects as well – by leveraging social media to monitor online chatter. When used this way, social media essentially becomes a powerful market research tool for B2B marketers to leverage.
Tapping into this information could potentially provide you with insight into a looming problem, or help you learn about new products or services that your prospects or customers want/need, or reveal interesting information about your competitors. Savvy marketers will capitalize on the findings such online monitoring reveals, and use it to enhance their engagement efforts.
As a B2B marketer in this economy, it’s important to recognize that as prospects work their way through the purchasing funnel (from awareness to interest to consideration to hopefully buying), many will get caught in the consideration phase. This is where they will be making pricing comparisons between you and your competitors. Given that, incentives—free shipping, free returns, rebates, etc.—can be an effective means to differentiate yourself from the competition and help you win over your prospects.
But before you implement an incentive, ask yourself if it is worth a fraction of profit to give up a little bit of margin to add one into your marketing initiatives. In addition, remember that the key to using incentives is to make sure that both the messaging of your offer and your incentive is consistent and conveyed on every piece of marketing “real estate” at your disposal. In other words, be sure to leverage ad copy to not only show what it is you offer, but to also articulate that you are offering it at a discount.
Tell them what you have—don’t make them guess
To best help your customers and prospects, specify what you’re providing; don’t make them work to figure it out. It’s important to avoid generic messaging as it can dissuade users from clicking on your ad or from taking a call to action, and in some cases, it can drive up your costs based on relevancy and click through factors that the engines use to determine quality scores.
Instead, if you have a product or service that helps address your customer’s and/or prospect’s needs, then say so. Tell them in your ad copy and incent them to click. Tell them when they get to your site, and incent them to buy or express interest. Remember, search is the ultimate form of permission-based marketing, so capitalize on it as such. When someone conducts a search, it equates to a potential customer raising their hand, actively seeking a solution/answer to their problem.
They say that timing is everything. I tend to agree. There’s no better time to help someone than when they are in need. Smart B2B marketers will use the above tips to boost their engagement efforts and in the end, help their customers and prospects when they need it most.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.