Updated: Mar 29, 2019
While most B2C businesses have embraced the idea that digital marketing is the new way to connect with consumers in the Digital Age, B2Bs are struggling to shift gears and keep pace with the disruptive force of digital. Getting B2Bs to move over into the digital world requires a change in mindset towards customer centricity, market insight, and towards offering value and B2C-like speed in digital experiences.
These days many B2Bs operate without a heavy face-to-face salesforce which leaves them dependent on channel and solutions partners. Channel partners who stay with the old marketing models fail to meet the needs of enterprise customers. In the multi-stakeholder decision-making process of B2B, each stakeholder expects to be connected with either emotionally or functionally. Digital tools, data, and marketing make this possible.
Digital marketing is proven to increase revenues. Google conducted a study announcing that B2Bs who use digital marketing can expect 2.8 times the revenue growth
Digital marketing decreases marketing costs. Social media cost per lead, SEO, email, and blogging methods have a substantially lower cost than traditional methods.
Digital marketing is mobile. 91 percent of adults always have their mobile devices within reach, meaning the implementation is quick and instant. (Forbes)
Digital marketing allows for better local targeting/hyper-targeting. Targeting through various social media channels is exact all the way down to the position an individual holds within a prospect company.
Digital content is perceived to be more favorable than an advertisement: 80% of executives and business owners prefer to receive information about a company through articles rather than advertisements.(Stratabeat)
The majority of channel partners have yet to embrace digital marketing due to a misguided belief that digital marketing is only for B2C businesses and that B2B customers avoid digital channels. The latest research indicated that B2Bs need a combination of investment in digital assets and capabilities in addition to flawless execution. Channel partners need to review their digital marketing strategy now or risk being replaced by the competitor.
Current Outlook of 2018 Channel Partners:
Digital content is a whole new world for indirect channels. Most channel partners have minimal ideas of what information needs to be presented beyond the manufacturer brochure, leaving them without a clear digital identity or voice through which to communicate with target customers. Beyond website and email content, most channel partners find material that makes sense for segments within their target market; however, much of the content was created for a sales presentation and it is not suitable for a digital channel. Therefore, most messages are ineffective in addressing the needs of customers. Online channels demand constant and consistent content from channel partners to cement their credibility and market position.
Content Philosophy (To assist your content generation) :
The fundamentals of building a digital content strategy are not as difficult as you think. Firstly, it is crucial for your company to understand the needs of customers and what triggers them to act and follow through on your “call to action.” Secondly, you have to identify the value proposition and avoid cliche phrases such as: “we have the experience”; or “we are the biggest in the given industry”; or “we are simply the best in the business.” You need to convey your organization’s tangible and intangible values to your target customer at every online opportunity. For example, real value consists of case studies and customer testimonials that attribute as an asset in winning the customer buy-in. As for the intangible values: you will also need to identify the pain points of your target market and how your company can help solve them in an innovative and engaging manner. You further need to define a portion of the manufacturer’s content and calculate how it fits into your solutions to go beyond hardware, software, and services. As always, highlight your experience, expertise, and know-how so your customers positively interpret your content with superior knowledge.
Directly Contact your Target:
Content is a marketing engine! Only relevant and engaging content which makes sense for your target audience will result in turning the conversation into sales leads. As experts in solutions, customers expect channel partners to provide the best practices and the best possible solutions for a given industry. Creating meaningful yet measurable traction can be done by identifying segments and customizing the content on those targeted segments. With a clear and concise digital content strategy coupled with flawless execution, a measurable result will then be ascertained.
Typically, towards the end of many pieces of online content, the target customers are confused about the “call to action,” thus leaving the creator asking “where are my expected results?”. Customers expect channel partners to have experience working in multi-vendor environments because the content in multi-vendor environments is generally geared toward specific hardware and software solutions that do not add value to the viewer in any way. Ensure that your digital content is set up such that customers feel comfortable with your knowledge and trust your experience.
Content Leads to Sales :
Having a management strategy is of the utmost importance before content implementation. Managing your company's upcoming posts and social media blogs into a manageable schedule: “content calendar” to ensure your digital marketing team is on the same page. Content that has a purpose, and is meaningful and goal-centric increases the likelihood of a successful outcome.
Once your calendar and implementation are automated, channel partners must create a community management plan. A community management plan ensures that negative comments are dealt with in a professional manner that positively impacts the course of a customer's actions. A community management plan also positions an organization within a community, ensures that conversations are initiated, positive comments are followed up on and qualified leads are lead down the sales funnel, closer to a purchase. Being an active voice and contributor as part of an online community instantly raises you consumer/prospect relations and increases your chances of a sale.
Content from channel partners can be confusing because of the similarity in their messages. However, if your digital content is purposeful and if it coincides with strong values along with vendor content, customers will be clear about your offerings.
In a multi-vendor scenario, channel partners are struggling to maintain their identity and loyalty. The marketing campaign is based on a set of targets with a mixture of products and services; content management is a challenging task to set up and maintain for channel partners. A Dreamline Digital Content Framework (DDCF) that is structured and distributed across appropriate digital channels which will lower the possibility of the message conflict.
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