As February comes to a close and we trade Valentine’s Day hearts and chocolates for St. Patrick’s Day shamrocks, we’re taking our monthly look back at some of the most interesting marketing reads from the month, including posts from our blog as well as blogs from around the web and the latest book releases.
As it grows in popularity, account-based marketing is getting a lot of attention, although content marketing still remains a favorite topic of B2B marketing. Experts recognize that targeted techniques will get you the most bang for your buck in terms of not only boosting sales but also retaining customers for the long term.
Following are some of the best tips and advice from the month of February, as well as some trends to keep an eye on in order to stay a few steps ahead of your competitors.
OUR TOP POSTS FROM FEBRUARY
2016 was a banner year for True Influence, which not only surpassed expected profits but also boosted staff by nearly double thanks to the addition of the account-based marketing platform InsightBASE.
“Our Q4 results are impressive and we continue to surpass projections thanks to our rapid new growth of customer acceptance of InsightBASE®,” said True Influence CFO Kim Spaulding in a press release. “Due to our continued rate of technical innovation, team growth, and record sales, we have seen substantial revenue gains.”
Because it can take up to seven months to complete a B2B sales cycle, we kicked off February with 41 tips to speed things up. Not only is it important to know your customer, but it’s also vital to have a clear picture of your brand and its reputation, so your potential prospects trust your product or service enough to buy. We also offered tips on developing content that enhances your brand and strengthens your reputation, ways to better understand what your leads need so you’re better able to offer it and hints to help you retain more leads with targeted content that gives them information that’s valuable to them.
This popular post looks at ways to turbo-charge your B2B sales acceleration, using Intent Signals® and other tools that have made it easier than ever for both sales and marketing teams to determine who to target and the best ways to do so successfully.
Nick Hedges, president and CEO of Velocify, breaks it down into the six “P’s” of sales acceleration, including promptness (speedier response time can double conversion rate), persistence (follow up to retain interest), prospecting (look for new leads, even while marketing to current ones), prioritization (market to those closest to the end of the sales funnel first), performance (reward successes) and process (use what works to design an effective sales process).
What’s the buzz around the web
ABM was once a trend, but is now becoming the new standard as more companies look for ways to narrow their prospect list so they can design more effective marketing campaigns.
Here’s what the experts have been talking about:
ACCOUNT BASED MARKETING TACTICS TO IMPLEMENT FOR A NEW YEAR
3 Account-Based Marketing Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make
This information-packed post from Marketo explores three ABM errors that can stop your B2B efforts in their tracks, including failure to properly vet the accounts where you focus the bulk of your efforts, failure to ensure continuity throughout your sales channels and using the wrong metrics to determine if your ABM efforts are working or if they’re not.
Account-Based Marketing: Top Tactics, Challenges, and Goals
This post from Marketing Professionals looked at what marketers are saying about the most effective ABM strategies (personalized content tops the list, followed by identifying high-value existing accounts and creating account-specific campaigns, according to a survey of marketers by Ascend2), as well as the most important objectives and challenges of account-based marketing. On the objectives side, growing revenue with existing accounts and increasing the number of new accounts topped the list, while increasing the number of new accounts and developing a sense of unity between the sales and marketing departments were seen as the biggest obstacles.
So why is account-based marketing getting so much attention lately? According to Noah Elkin, Research Director of Multichannel Marketing at Gartner, who wrote about the topic on Linked In, one of the driving forces behind what was once considered a trend is a desire for B2B businesses to bring in new revenue. ABM is smart, targeted and engaging, and helps develop trust between a company and potential leads. Not only that, the data companies are collecting to tell them which accounts to target is become more precise with each new tech advance, so turning potential leads into long-term clients is less of a challenge. Third, and most importantly, even as things change, the more they stay the same, in that personalization is becoming more of a priority as B2B businesses look at ways to strengthen engagement, build trust and enhance relationships, just like the proprietor of what was once the corner store.
INTERSECTING ACCOUNT BASED MARKETING AND SALES
In order to account-based marketing to be a success, its vital that the sales and marketing teams are working together toward a single goal rather than fighting each other with differing approaches.
Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams with Account-Based Marketing
A more targeted approach than content marketing, account-based marketing uses content and other marketing techniques, but aims them at a smaller, more focused audience that is more likely to be receptive to your product or service. Because ABM markets specifically to certain accounts, it is an effective way to bring the sales and marketing teams together to provide better customer service and speed up the sales cycle by working more efficiently, according to this Forbes blog post with tips on how to implement ABM successfully.
Marketing Vs. Sales: How Account-Based Marketing Can Solve the Civil War
When leads are lost or revenue dips, both sales and marketing teams like to point fingers, writes Falon Fatemi in this Forbes post, which focuses on how blaming the other guy can bring a business down by impacting the bottom line.
“When sales and marketing operate in silos, each looks at the other and says, ‘They don’t get it,’” according to Jeff Perkins, CEO of the software testing firm QASymphony. “Neither takes the time to step back and realize they’re both shooting at the same target.”
While the two may have once been able to work in a vacuum, sales making cold calls, marketing using techniques they claim work with no data to back those claims, today’s consumer is more demanding, and requires personalized marketing.
But ABM, which aligns both sales and marketing, can boost marketing revenues by as much as 208 percent, according to HubSpot data, Fatemi writes.
How to Design a Sales Process for Complex B2B Sales
The CEO of Membrain, George Bronten, writes about designing a sales process – a key way to align sales and marketing teams and focus everyone in the company on the same goal, boosting revenue – in this post for Linked In.
In it, Bronten looks at what makes for an effective sales process, which includes focusing on target customers, prospecting, researching and pre-qualifying potential leads, engaging and building rapport with prospects, developing a clear understanding of your buyer so you can best meet his or her needs, offering value while making customer service a priority, ensuring that everyone on the team is focused on the same mission and has the same commitment, and delivering on promises to solidify your reputation.
MORE TRENDS IN B2B MARKETING
Knowing what’s hot in the B2B market right now will prevent your competitors from edging you out.
According to data from GroupM, content marketing is expected to grow in 2017, especially so for B2B marketers, with spending to top $1 trillion for the first time. Companies are expected to devote approximately 20 percent of their advertising budget on marketing, and 39 percent of businesses plan to increase their content marketing spend this year.
Companies are looking at developing more experience in content marketing, using more sophisticated techniques to reach their targeted audiences, especially because most marketers believe the technique is successful, and would be even more so if they had more time to devote to creating effective content.
6 Significant No-Fluff Trends for B2B Marketing in 2017
Sam Hurley takes a look at what’s trending in B2B marketing in this piece for Sparklane that looks at what B2B marketers should be doing this year.
Most important is providing high-end customer service, because a single bad experience can turn a consumer into an enemy who is likely to share that bad experience with others, increasing the damage to your company’s reputation.
Other trends to focus on include account-based marketing (fishing with spears rather than nets), content marketing, which is shifting to video to accommodate an increased mobile audience, taking advantage of artificial intelligence to help guide marketing and sales, and using influencers – the latest marketing tool, and one that carries almost as much weight as recommendations from friends (49 percent compared to 56 percent, according to estimates) – to help enhance your brand.
According to Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, 88 percent of B2B companies are using content marketing to help grow their brand.
Why? Because content marketing works. “We found that B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X the traffic as companies that blogged only once per month,” writes Sophia Bernazzani for HubSpot.
“Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World,” by Adam Grant.
This New York Times bestseller, clearly written in Grant’s engaging voice, shows leaders how to pave their own road, based on the successes of other innovators, including the TV executive who realized the potential of the ground-breaking comedy “Seinfeld.”
“’Originals’ is one of the most important and captivating books I have ever read, full of surprising and powerful ideas. It will not only change the way you see the world; it might just change the way you live your life. And it could very well inspire you to change your world,” writes Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of the acclaimed book “Lean In.”
“Uncopyable: How to Create an Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition,” by Steve Miller.
This gem explores ways to set yourself apart from others in an increasingly compressed market by offering something competitors cannot – an “uncopiable” relationship that forges an enduring bond.
Rather than going “outside the box,” according to marketing guru Steve Miller, businesses must build their own boxes, creating a unique experience that can’t be duplicated.
“If anyone has the right to teach us how to be ‘UNCOPYABLE,’ it’s Steve Miller,” writes CPLP Fellow Bob Pike. “He has modeled the strategies in his breakthrough book for more than 25 years. He goes beyond branding and innovation, which, though valuable – always leave us competing. World class is good, World class and Uncopyable is better! This book gives you both ‘whats’ and ‘how-tos.’”
“Sense and Respond: How Successful Organizations Listen to Customers and Create New Products Continuously,” by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden.
Written by leading tech experts and founders of the global Lean UX movement, this book looks at how to use available software-driven technology to learn more about your customers, allowing you to better meet their wants and needs with product innovations.
Ferriss reveals the secrets of some of the most successful people not only in business, but in a wide range of other fields, so you have the tools in hand to follow in their footsteps.
“Authentic Negotiating: Clarity, Detachment, & Equilibrium, The Three Keys to True Negotiating Success & How to Achieve Them,” by Corey Kupfer.
Learn the fine art of overcoming emotions during tough negotiations and staying true to yourself while still coming out on top with this information-rich book that not only helps enrich its readers in business, but also in life.
An entrepreneur and attorney, Kupfer offers more than 30 years of experience to this compelling read that will make you more likely to nail it the next time you negotiate a deal.