The B2B market has been built on a foundation of strong customer relationships, product knowledge and expertise. Many B2B companies also have closely held beliefs about what marketing should look like. Although some traditional marketing practices are still applicable, many are being replaced or supplemented by digital and social media marketing. To compete with operations like Amazon, today’s B2B companies need to embrace new technology. A good place to start is understanding the fundamental differences between traditional marketing and digital marketing.
In many companies’ minds, traditional marketing refers to advertising. We think of TV commercials, radio ads, billboards, trade shows or print ads in industry publications. These platforms aren’t inherently bad, and some companies have done a great job leveraging these opportunities. But traditional marketing is based on the interruption method or as I like to refer to it, the “look over here it’s something shiny” method. Typically, traditional marketing has been geared toward a hard sell of products or services. Creativity, with clever slogans and the deal of the day, has long driven this medium in the B2B space.
Platforms have allowed companies to embrace another side of marketing. While some have simply applied traditional practices to the digital realm to decreasing returns (for example: the falling success rate of banner ads that imitate print ads), others have taken a different route. Successful digital marketing is held together by the belief that you are what you publish. It is driven by informative, useful content – something many B2B companies have in spades. We refer to this as content marketing. Digital marketing looks less like advertising and more like a conversation, where buyers are looking for knowledge and authenticity. The key to success with digital marketing is to offer valuable content to buyers right when they need it.
The key to moving toward a successful digital-marketing strategy is to keep in mind that digital and social media marketing are not just other avenues to advertise your products or services. Web users are sophisticated and have a low tolerance for sales hype so organizations must be in the business of offering quality content that helps to educate a niche audience. There are four key questions that any company needs to address when embracing a new marketing strategy in the digital realm.
• Who is your buyer?
• What problems can you solve for them?
• Where is your target audience engaging online? (For example, many B2B business buyers are active on Twitter and LinkedIn, but not as much on Facebook.)
• What do you want people to do?
Answering these questions will help you leverage your company’s strengths so that you can move forward with a marketing strategy that connects with your customers and achieves your goals. In an upcoming blog, I’ll examine specific areas where digital-marketing strategies can be implemented to increase your company’s visibility and ROI.
Need help with your digital-marketing strategy? Contact 3 Aspens Media today and we can help you communicate the right message to the right audience on the right platform.