It's not just what you say, but how (and when and where) you say it that matters in B2B marketing. Targeting potential buyers at the wrong time can prove detrimental to a business relationship. This makes it crucial for marketers to do their homework prior to reaching out to their target audience. Don’t fall into the common mistakes marketers make when reaching out to their target audience; here’s how to build up the context behind a prospect prior to targeting them with content.

Think before you speak

Let’s say you’re an IT manager who has recently bought some hardware from a technology vendor. You’re pleased with the purchase and feel your money was wisely invested. Then, not long after the purchase, you receive an email from the same vendor offering a large saving on the hardware you just paid full price for. It’s the kind of thoughtlessness (or lack thereof), which can kill any future interaction between vendor and buyer. Why should they bring return custom when they know from experience the vendor doesn’t truly recognise their business needs?

Get smart with marketing intelligence

Get the timing wrong with your email marketing, and you not only miss an opportunity, but you might also damage the customer experience and your own reputation. This is where marketing intelligence can save the day.

Marketers can avoid costly errors by figuring out what their potential buyers are up to before reaching out. Knowing what your potential customers are up to prepares you to engage with them in contextually relevant manner. It enables you to reach them in right channel, with the right message, and at the right time.

In this sense, marketing intelligence is more than just social listening. Sure, you can monitor for certain hashtags and check what people are saying about your brand on social networks. However, that doesn’t necessarily result in knowledge of where this person stands in the customer life cycle. Marketers need to really engage with buyers; professional networks offer a clear opportunity to do this, as marketers and buyers communicate on a personal as well as a professional level. Find out what their interests are and share your own. Don’t just talk product, rather show your audience that you’re a real person and engage with them. It will ensure that you and your brand are front of mind when that person is next looking to invest in a product.

Unlock the Gate

Too often in the B2B world, brands attempt to get leads using gated content. Here’s how it works. Potential buyers research products by looking for relevant whitepaper or reviews. In order to view content, brands require readers to fill out a form (gate) with contact details, which helps brands capture a potential lead. Unfortunately, gated content can put buyers off. Many buyers don’t want to give out their information for fear of being solicited afterwards. So many simply leave your gated page and look for ungated content elsewhere. In some cases, they might just put false information to get through the process quicker, which builds an imperfect image of the buyer.

Marketers should focus their efforts on perfecting their content, not just throwing something up and locking it away. Producing great content and freely sharing it encourages buyers to come back for more and engage with your brand.

Reach Them on Their Turf

Sometimes, marketers need to step away from their computer screen and get out of their comfort zone to really connect with buyers on their terms. Professional networks offer a great avenue for companies to connect with potential customers in an open, honest, and authentic way. In most cases, customers are already discussing their needs and the companies they think can help them and it’s the marketer’s job to be present and active in those conversations.

Trade conferences can be a good option for two-way engagement. Meeting up in-person encourages a two-way conversation. You’ll get direct feedback (and contact details) from buyers whilst also getting to meet them in person. Vendors also get to engage on a human level and provide a face for their organisation. You might even pick up useful bits of information that no gated content would ever discover. These nuggets of information can prove invaluable down the line when end-users are looking to make a purchase and keeps a particular brand front of mind.

You might find genuine answers to questions like: " Where are they going to research products? Have they recently bought my product?" This helps you figure out where they are (or aren't) in the buying cycle. You can then provide relevant content accordingly.

It’s vital that marketers do their homework. Go to the places and attend the events where your customers are talking about your product and even your competitors. Build a fuller picture of potential buyers and engage on a human level; they’ll value you for it. Potential buyers are so much more than just a name on a prospect list.


By Fortuné Alexander, Marketing Evangelist at Spiceworks.

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