Consilium Global Business Advisors last week released its new eBook13 Steps to B2B Marketing Success, which the company claims offers a no-nonsense plan (free of "geek-speak") to inbound marketing for small and medium businesses (SMBs).
Consilium promises a step-by-step guide to the "obligatory transformation from traditional business-to-business (B2B) marketing to an effective approach that supports business growth objectives." It's a combination how-to and workbook with downloadable worksheets to support the transformation, and is targeted to the industrial marketing space.
Dave Kaupp, Consilium Principal and a digital marketing veteran says "The SMB space is really struggling to adapt its B2B marketing to evolving market conditions,” and SMBs are largely missing the dynamic growth opportunities available (which are frankly hard to master). "There's so much fluff and hype about the internet, that business folks who have companies to run on a daily basis can't sort through what's real," which consilium purports to do with the Guide.
What Can B2B SMBs Do Better?
Plenty, Consilium Principal Ed Marsh told us.
First, they could recognize their relative lack of marketing prowess, compared to the rest of the world. Among other global ventures, Marsh started a company to sell used capital equipment in the Indian market. "One of the things that’s become really clear to me is that American companies, particularly B2B and very much so in industrial space, are very immature in both marketing and global business perspectives."
Secondly, they can surrender the excuse that they don't have the resources to compete on a global scale. "That used to be the case. But marketing tools are an equalizer," by which smaller companies appear perfectly competitive next to larger competitors, "if you look at them with a fresh perspective and recognize what you can do with a limited budget."
Third, they can become more "cerebral" about whom they target. "Where companies fall down is having a typical buyer they're familiar with dealing with, and not thinking about the guy who proesses warranty claims for example, who sees repeat failures. Maybe he'll have a finance background and speak a different language, one about the difference between reasonable and great profitability."
So targeting the traditional economic buyer can be simply off the mark. A tool-and-die subcontractor for NASA, for example, may typically sell to a NASA program manager, when the influencer is a quality control engineer, says Marsh. "He’s the one making sure parts have excruciatingly carefully maintained standards of quality." The job becomes to know that engineer. "A typical NASA QC engineer will have a PhD, read certain journals, be in a certain part of the country and have some typical hobbies. So without being ignorant and generalizing, it’s good to get an idea of who holds that role."
And social media? Marsh calls social media a barometer of how serious a company is in updating its inbound marketing. "Many industrial company owners are of an age or a mindset that they see social media is inane. That’s a personal bias that permeates a company's approach to it. And those that think they are cutting edge may have a Twitter or LinkedIn page, but there's no dynamism to them and they accrue no benefit to the companies," for example, as a customer relations tool or in building brand lift.
Finally, those companies can recognize that search has moved from finding product to finding answers, hence the demand for content. In fact, the sales cycle begins with content (see graphic). "The premise is that 93% of B2B purchases begin with search. It used to be that a buyer just searched for 75W lightbulbs, and a list of names would pop up in for example a Thomas register. But search engines' ability to handle syntax is improved, and a buyer might look instead for 'how to reduce accidents through better lighting,' or research switching to LED lights, or using green building techniques.
"People are asking to be educated now, and there's an opportunity for marketers to educate them. Inbound marketing in B2B has an opportunity to establish authority in the space and establish a virtual relationship and dialogue with buyers."
So where a typical B2B would involve a sales rep 30% of the way into the process, "Now it makes more sense to involve them when the process is 70% complete, after education, spec creation, and most of the impressions and decisions have been made. Now it's down to negotiating the transaction.
"So for inbound marketing, the content helps to get found, but has to help sell now as well. That's a complete change from the way content has been viewed before."