Generating opportunities in the age of uncertainty, home working, and changing buyer needs..
OK, not everybody’s working from home at the moment. Various workspaces remain open to greet employees from an acceptable social distance. But for the purposes of marketing and B2B demand generation, every audience has to be viewed as WFH’ing; we have to act like the entire marketable universe is operating out of bedrooms, kitchens, garden sheds and maybe even (for the lucky ones) a home office; We have to assume a 9-5 existence that has morphed into something like a 7-7 reality to allow for exercising the kids, home schooling, and any number of domestic chores.
That said, we still want them to respond to our marketing activities: to answer the phone, click on links, and interact with the latest and greatest content – even if they have a lot on their collective plates at present. Hence the disappointment when they don’t (and engagement stats are definitely down at present). But what can be done? Despite societal lockdowns, few businesses have cut sales quotas to date – and the pipeline ‘beast’ still needs constant feeding. How can demand generation efforts be realigned to this new reality? Let’s take a look…
Building on what we’ve learned
A good place to start is a quick review of what the past 12 months has taught us, and the key market/behavioural trends to emerge from a year like no other:
Audiences are still prepared to listen to vendors, but their attention span has reduced to the ‘hear and now’ – and on immediate business pains rather than long-term vision sells
Expectations have also shifted when it comes to messaging, which now needs to be far more buyer focused (by that we mean timely and relevant, as well as tailored)
Integrated marketing, incorporating marketing/sales development/sales, and spanning the entire customer journey, needs to be finely tuned to give you any hope of winning new business
Partnership is a big play for businesses attempting to navigate unchartered territory, and looking for vendors able to share opinions, recommendations, and expertise without thought of immediate financial gain
Choosing the right approach
Focusing on pragmatic value and fully integrated activity is certainly proving a winning formula. The challenge, as always, is in provoking an initial reaction. Particularly when digital channels are awash with competing voices and opportunities to interact. For example, any search of LinkedIn will quickly highlight the tsunami of planned and happening webcasts, virtual conferences etc. heading our way in 2021.
Standing out from the crowd in the current climate has therefore (once again!) ignited debate over whether to go broad or narrow:
Broad is the quantity play, covering your entire database with generic messaging
Narrow is the quality play, aligning ABM techniques to those organisations deemed to offer a higher lifetime value
Yet the obvious response here is that BOTH work, and both are stronger if done in unison. What matters more is that the content and delivery is honed toward pragmatic value, reinforced across every customer touchpoint.
Putting a face to ‘pragmatic value’
There’s that phrase again: ‘pragmatic value’. What does it mean, and how to incorporate it into your content? Well, value is pragmatic if it’s:
Immediate, and able to promote solutions and/or services that address critical issues impacting audiences today
Relatable, and demonstrates how any offering maps to a buyer’s actual day-to-day experiences (detailed in the same language the audience uses to describe their business pain/need)
Surrounded by roles and responsibilities, that make it very clear who’s doing what and when to deliver the calculated benefits
Describing a journey, and one that moves a buyer from a previous state to a new state, complete with a transparent risk assessment of doing (and not doing) so
A shared, joint endeavour where seller and buyer work openly in exploring both challenges and solution
Getting the rest right
Then there’s the fact that generating opportunities – and closing them – has become far harder in the past 12 months. People are more reticent in signing off budget, and more of them are involved in any purchasing decision (including CFOs with more time on their hands!).
Making sure you’re ready to act on any lead uncovered is therefore of critical importance. That means getting integrated. Properly integrated too, not just an ability to use multiple delivery channels – but fully connected across data, touchpoints, and resources, where:
All campaigns build upon each other and incorporate findings from previous activities (rather than being created ad hoc)
A common data ‘hub’ is used that stretches across all customer interactions
Clear internal education/notification is passed to all those responsible for follow-up, explaining the what, why, and how behind any activity
Lead handover processes are clearly mapped and acted upon within a timeframe agreed both internally and with the lead
What the above tells us is that B2B companies need to raise the bar when it comes to demand generation; To fully appreciate that everybody’s in the same boat, and facing the same decisions and limitations (which explains the broad increase in webinars, content development, and customer marketing we’re seeing, and the decrease in direct mail and customer acquisition activities).
The buyer’s needs have to be placed front and centre, with any marketing activity crafted to convey a “you can’t afford to miss out” sense of immediacy – and followed up with a fully integrated response. All of which is easier said than done when buyer needs themselves continue to shift, but then no one said this would be easy!
Ready to raise your bar? Then get in touch