A new brand identity that underscores our approach to B2B marketing — always customized, never templated
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For the better part of a decade, marketing has been soaring. A better understanding of our customers has led to a more sophisticated approach to our relationships with B2B buyers. Increasingly refined strategies and supporting budgets became the norm as we tracked our customers through their journeys from awareness to conversion and purchase. These stronger strategies and budgets fueled the development of new technologies that gave marketers the power of data, giving them both more control and more responsibilities. This build up has ultimately resulted in marketing becoming a central stake in most modern B2B companies.
2020 had a different plan, though. With a global pandemic and pending recession, marketers are faced with providing the same level of structural support with restricted resources. Budgets have been slashed, conferences and in-person events canceled, and with some facing minimized team structures or agency resources, tech needs to support our campaigns and reporting in more ways than ever before.
Given these new challenges, efficiency and effectiveness are crucial for all of our programs. Improving and focusing on metrics like campaign response rate, lead to close velocity and ultimately ROI are imperative to keeping our teams, and companies, operating.
Luckily, the level of marketing sophistication we achieved before the pandemic hit set us up for success in many ways. Though our infrastructural support and resources may be feeling strained, we have a time- and process-tested toolkit in which we can pull from to help us better connect with our customers by understanding their fundamental needs. However, with the current state of the world, it’s likely that your buyers' needs and processes have changed, and it’s our job as marketers to keep up.
Though sometimes disregarded as marketing jargon, well-developed personas are the gateway to communicating with your customers in their own language. Having a reliable and referenceable resource to ask yourself “How is my customer being impacted by XYZ?” is invaluable when attempting to create content and start conversations that matter to them – now more than ever.
Our current situation has given us a unique opportunity to set aside our “business selves” as we’re required to invite our colleagues, professional peers and customers into our homes via virtual conferencing. Kids, pets and significant others join our conversations (sometimes uninvitedly) as we get a unique glimpse into each other's personal lives.
Though the “work/life” balance has become more of the norm in recent years, this unplanned level of blurred boundaries is jarring. Ultimately, we’ve been forced into a vulnerable space, and as human nature demands, we’ve adapted to survive. But given this new state of vulnerability and demand, we’re giving more. And when we give more, we expect more. The same goes for our customers and we need to adjust our strategy to speak to their new situation. Hyper-personalization is the key to delivering this to your customers.
Integrated marketing is already a major part of our marketing strategies, but it’s the hyper-personalization of our messages that will hit the optimal level of efficiency and effectiveness needed today.
Marketing at its core involves understanding the psychological behaviors behind why people do the things they do. From picking a restaurant to an ERP system, emotions, logic and our personalities are all baked into every purchase decision.
And given our current state, there’s more emotion than ever before packed into every decision we make. Instead of meeting our customers in their offices, we’re meeting them in their living rooms with more distractions than usual. Emotions are running high, some may be on edge or have added stress and therefore, if your message comes across as untimely or unempathetic and isn’t personalized to their needs, it will ultimately push more buttons than it might have before.
Segmentation that can fuel hyper-personalized programs will help build trust and bridges right when your customers need it most. Your business should feel like an ally. Like a friend who is going to help them through this. Aligning your content to your audiences is only half the battle. Here’s how to get started:
If you’ve never taken pen to paper and written down who you sell to, now is the time to do it. Answer as many questions about your audience as you can, and start to think like a B2C company would. Because we’re all working remotely, all purchase decisions – from Amazon orders to major solution purchases – are happening from the comfort of our homes. At a minimum, be able to answer the following about all of your buyer segments:
Smart use of your tech platforms can help you to better understand trends as they exist with your customers. Though you may not be able to bring on new technologies this year, look to better understand the power of existing platforms that will be of little to no cost to you. Look into each of the following systems and make sure there is seamless integration so that your data can help inform all decisions when it comes to your audience:
Once you’ve realigned on your personas and have an integrated tech infrastructure, you’ll be set up to hyper-segment your database. This differs from your traditional segmentation because it will help you to identify those who have the highest propensity to purchase your offerings right now. While many industries are still recovering, or even still declining, from the economic impact, others have been moderately to positively impacted. Your hyper-segmentation efforts will help you identify these companies and prepare content that best fits their needs. Consider segmenting your prospects or customers into the following categories:
Messaging should no longer take a one-size-fits-all approach. Use your hyper-segmentation to plan for targeted campaigns to smaller groups of people with specifics that are relevant and helpful to them. Consider the following:
Also gone are the days of set-it-and-forget-it. For optimal effectiveness and efficiency, use your data to iterate your programs and remain agile. Optimizing your efforts with minimal changes along the way will save you from needing to make big pivots in your strategy or messaging, which can be stressful and an ultimate waste of time and focus. Listen to your prospects by analyzing the data: how are they interacting with content? Which emails are resonating indicated by engagement metrics? If you’re new to the world of agile marketing, here are a few resources to help you get started:
To make a real impact with your programs right now, lean into your curiosity as a marketer and remember the fundamentals of marketing – understanding why people do what they do and make the decisions they make. This approach, combined with your team focus and tech abilities, will allow you to connect with your customers more than you ever have before.
If you’re struggling to reach your audience right now, Walker Sands is here to help. From persona work to systems integrations, let us know if you’d like a free consultation on where to get started.