In recent years, we have seen B2B and B2C marketing converging more and more. Marketers need to adapt their strategies accordingly. Here are the top three things any deep-tech brand needs to do to be successful in the new marketing and sales landscape:
Focus on engaging, dynamic, personalized content
B2B brands that want to stand out and win share-of-mind need to invest in individualized, contextual content that informs and inspires. Inbound marketing often replaces traditional sales channels, and content guides the prospects through the customer journey from initial product-agnostic research up to purchasing.
The shifting preference for self-directed research in the context of a complex, non-linear buying journey means that content needs to add value and meet the expectations of all relevant purchasing decision makers at the various stages of the journey. Content becomes a key differentiator and needs to be compelling, tailored to the individual, responsive and unique. Sharp messaging is key here, especially in the deep-tech sector.
B2B buyers are using up to 10 different channels during their purchasing process. With the emergence of the non-linear buying journey, there needs to be a lot of relevant content to give the buyer the information they need at any given time across all channels. As a result, deep-tech brands understand the need to implement marketing automation to provide custom content at every stage of the journey.
This ‘hyper-individualization’ requires content that matches the buyer’s needs when they search for it. Therefore, content should come in various formats that work on multiple channels to ensure it is accessible whenever the buyer needs it. In short, you need to go omnichannel and ideally “always on” with your content. As Anoma van Eeden describes in her blog:
“A more discerning, skeptical B2B customer with higher expectations and a myriad of purchasing options, combined with a sales landscape that is less linear and more apt to produce a sale at any point along the journey, means this: content must be dynamic to stand out. It cannot be ordinary, in concept or presentation.”
These heightened expectations, combined with the fact buyers prefer their research over engaging with salespeople, make it more critical than ever to create content that reaches buyers wherever they do their research – which is outside your owned channels for most of the time. Also, to be visible out there and infuse your marketing with personality, deep-tech brands should use personalized content marketing through social media, for example, through brand ambassador programs or by engaging with external influencers. And lastly, don’t forget to invest in paid promotion to ensure your great content gets amplified and seen by the right people at the right time!
Invest in a robust and purposeful brand
Deep-tech brands can’t continue to rely only on product quality. Instead, they need to use the power of marketing impact. The global digital brand experience makes all the difference, with prices and products becoming increasingly similar. Marketing needs to leverage emotive stories to connect with key decision-makers.
Therefore, think in emotions, not products – e.g. people buy reliability, safety or peace of mind, not only a PLC, surge protection device or monitoring software. In the end, people buy from people; therefore, B2B brands must be personal and approachable. And for a good reason: LinkedIn’s recent Brand to Demand study found companies that achieve brand fame experience 2.2x better business results.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transformation of B2B marketing. Now, not only is the brand story a key factor for “brand distinctiveness”, but also the unique way a company tells it. In a recent LinkedIn blog, author Keith Browning called this “authentic purpose-driven marketing”. As Keith has brilliantly put it:
“No matter what you do, chances are you’re competing with other brands who want the same kind of attention as you and are saying similar things to get it. (…) 90% of the battle isn’t saying something different, but getting people to pay attention to you and knowing it’s actually what you think, not just what you think they want to hear.”
The author points out that for your brand to stand out and strike at the heart of your audience’s emotions is not necessary to make a different point or even make the same point differently. Instead, it’s to become the natural or obvious choice in your product category or niche – think of becoming the “Coke” or “Nike” of your industry. The author calls this “brand fame”, which means ensuring everyone interested in your category has heard of your brand and thinks of it whenever they’re in relevant buying situations.
Achieving brand fame for your company should be a top priority for any marketer. Therefore deep-tech companies should find the right balance between performance marketing and investing in a strong brand presence. Global topics like the current pandemic, supply chain issues, trade wars and sustainability etc., push this trend for deep-tech brands to strive for communication that goes beyond the product. B2B companies need to be transparent about sustainability, diversity and purpose, as it has become clear that people buy from brands where they share the same values.
Create digital CX
With the consumerization of B2B marketing and sales, B2C expectations enter the deep-tech space. CX aspects like response time or warranties, UX elements such as real-time customer service or product availability and pricing transparency, and a consistent purchasing experience across multiple channels become essential criteria in supplier selection. Quickly adapting to changing buyer needs is key to ensuring CX and UX expectations are met.
Therefore, always think about “does it work for the customer” first. Use technologies like chatbots and marketing automation to improve service quality. And most importantly, create an end-to-end, digitally empowered buyer journey that empowers your clients to choose between self-service, e-commerce and personal contact depending on their needs and preferences.
If you are interested in why B2C and B2B marketing are converging, please read blog one of this two-part series: What the consumerization of B2B marketing means for deep-tech brands – Part 1