In my last post, I wrote about the end of interruption marketing. Here are some strategies B2B marketers can use to practice “attention marketing” (the opposite of interruption marketing).
Market when customers give their attention.
There are points in every buying cycle when the customer is actively seeking information. From typing something into Google to begin research to putting together a short list to building an ROI justification, buyers want trusted information to help them. This is why search engine marketing is so critical. Because the buyer is searching for information, the company that provides it is in the best position to be considered a trusted partner. The implication is that B2B marketers need search terms and landing pages designed to provide useful information to each stage of the customer buying cycles.
Build trusting relationships.
If a marketer calls me in the middle of my day, I feel interrupted. If a good friend calls me, I pay attention to what he has to say. The difference is trust, built over time.
B2B marketers can build trust with their prospects in the same way that trusted relationships are built “in the real world”.
- Expert advice. B2B purchases are, by their nature, complex. Buyers often need help to see possibilities and issues they wouldn’t think about on their own. If you can help frame the discussion, you will be seen as a trusted advisor and thought leader. This will help buyers believe that your company understands their problems and knows how to solve them.
- Not self-serving. You need to have the buyer’s best interests in mind. Marketing messages that are self-serving will be painfully apparent and could damage rather than build trust.
- Long-term view. Trust is built over time, and needs to be nurtured across a series of interactions. This requires a long-term view of your marketing investments.
Nurture a community where people can discuss your solutions.
Customers trust other customers more than they trust marketers. This is as true in B2B are it is in consumer marketing. MarketingSherpa’s recent Business Technology Buyer’s Survey found that word of mouth is by far the most common factor influencing purchasing decisions (48.3% mentioning they were impacted by the tactic, as opposed to webinars which came in at 18.4% and cold calls which came in at 2.8%).
So what can B2B marketers do to take advantage of social media-based marketing techniques? The answer is to engage in and nurture the online communities, conferences, discussion groups, and blogs that your customers, prospects, partners, and influencers are already using.
Doing this successfully requires changing the traditional marketing mindset. B2B marketers are used to thinking they have control over the message, but with community-based marketing this is no longer the case. Put another way, marketing is no longer about putting on a show in which the audience (your community) watches passively; it is more like throwing a party and encouraging the attendees to interact. In this world, marketing’s job is not to control the message but to ensure that their “party” is the most interesting and useful one around.
What do you think?
How is the role of the B2B marketer changing in a world where traditional marketing messages are ignored and buyers talk to each other to get their information. What strategies and tactics have you found that work?