Category Archives: B2B marketing

If Carlsberg sold pricing software – content marketing that ticks all the boxes.

A while back, I put together a thought-leadership checklist to evaluate how well any material I produce is likely to perform. Here’s a reminder:

  • Relevance – does the content discuss real problems for target customers?
  • Interesting – will it hold peoples’ attention?
  • Novel – is it new or will our customers have seen this somewhere before?
  • Differentiated – is this different to the material my competitors are producing?
  • Brand enhancing – will customers think better of my brand after reading this?
  • Call to action – is it clear what customers should do next?
  • Lead generating – is the content linked to an end to end campaign?

You’d be surprised how much B2B content misses the mark but here’s a great example of some material (not from me) that ticks all the boxes.

It’s new white paper from Boomerang Commerce that discusses how online retailers can set prices to beat Amazon. It’s a dense read but don’t let that put you off. Even if you’re not in this abstruse corner of the software world, you should download the document as a masterclass on how B2B marketers should produce thought leadership.

PPI

Some background. I’ve been looking at pricing intelligence software recently. There are a number of vendors, each making largely undifferentiated claims and, in this kind of market, one elegant way to stand out from the crowd is to lead the customers’ thinking. I suspect that the future market leaders will become sources of advice, as well as products, and a thought leadership white paper is a typical way to substantiate this value.

Boomerang have analysed Amazon’s pricing strategy and come up with a methodology to help online retailers fight back against the Internet giant. What I particularly like is that Boomerang has used its own data (the data that new customers will be paying for) to offer some very specific and actionable advice. In doing this, it makes itself look both clever and helpful. If I sold HDMI cables, I’d give them a call.

Extract from Boomerang Commerce white paper.
Extract from Boomerang Commerce white paper.

Even better, they have introduced a new concept called the Price Perception Index which will they would be able to exploit for ongoing press stories and pre-sales consulting.

If Carlsberg did thought leadership it would look like this. Read and enjoy.

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Have We Reached Peak Marketable Research?

A standard B2B tactic is to produce marketable research. Run a survey of your customers’ customers, get a bit of PR, produce a white paper to share with customers and produce a slide deck to show at conferences. And an infographic. You simply have to have an infographic in 2014.

The good news is that the basic research has got cheaper. Online panels cost a fraction of telephone or face to face interviews. The bad news is that the supply of marketable research is growing alarmingly. Cut-through is getting harder and harder. And the competition isn’t just coming from a single sector with lawyers and accountants joining tech vendors and consultants in the bombardment.

Retail is one of the more over-analysed areas. Here’s  just a sample of papers quoted in the December issue of Retail Systems magazine and it should give B2B marketers a pause for thought. Producing material that is impactful, interesting and clearly differentiated is a real challenge.

Retail's Digital Future - Addleshaw Goddard
Retail’s Digital Future – Addleshaw Goddard
A new way to engage with shoppers - Samsung
A new way to engage with shoppers – Samsung
Mobile commerce 2014 - Episerver
Mobile commerce 2014 – Episerver
The omni-channel dilemma - LCP
The omni-channel dilemma – LCP
Retail and e-commerce movers and shakers - K3 Retail
Retail and e-commerce movers and shakers – K3 Retail

B2B buyers don’t value what B2B marketers are selling

I’ve posted before about the challenges B2B marketers face in presenting their brands as a clear and distinct option for customers. See Shopper-centric end to end merchandise optimisation.

A comprehensive piece of research from McKinsey backs this up. Not only are the brands themselves undifferentiated, but many of the attributes B2B marketers emphasise to gain a competitive edge are of ones that customers don’t actually care about.

Worryingly, of the top five themes that buyers say influence their perception of a supplier’s brand, only one – a high level of specialist expertise – is normally substantiated by the supplier. Buyers want to work with businesses that are leaders in their field, care about their customers and share their values. Instead, B2B marketers are wasting their breath shouting about global reach, corporate social responsibility and their employer’s ability to shape markets.

McKinsey B2B

In the past, B2B businesses could get away with indistinct brands because most of the interface between them and the outside world was policed by sales teams for whom customer empathy comes naturally. But in the new content-driven B2B world, marketers are going to have to spend time understanding what really drives brand equity and use digital techniques to show how much they care about their customers.

B2B Tech Buyers Not Yet Ready for Twitter

I love Twitter. It connects me with journalists, analysts, consultants and competitors. It brings me the latest news in my field. But it doesn’t connect me with customers.

I’ve long suspected that business buyers are too busy looking at cat videos,  tweeting about football or even working to pay attention to the sell-side. Nevertheless, B2B marketing teams have ramped up their efforts to engage the “social buyer”.

This disconnect is shown in a fascinating piece of research from SpiceWorks.

95% of marketers use social media with the aim of improving brand awareness, consideration or purchase justification. Just 23% of buyers are listening.

Source: Spiceworks

It’s time for a re-think. B2B marketers need to inhabit their customers’ worlds and the customers are pretty clear that they’re not living on planet Twitter or Facebook.