Consumer marketing historically has been a different beast than B2B marketing.
In the 1950s and 60s, the Don Drapers of the Madison Avenue agencies pioneered the catchy slogans and ad campaigns that positioned consumer products in the marketplace and created demand.
B2B marketing has typically been driven by sales teams – cold calls, personal relationships, features/benefits positioning and ROI analysis.
B2B buyers made committee decisions, and heavily relied upon the information provided by the sales reps. B2B marketers focused on generating leads, and their jobs depended on how many leads were tracked from their marketing campaigns into their sales pipeline.
Times have changed …
Social and Mobile Are Replacing the Traditional B2B Lead Generation Campaign
Today, B2B buyers are shunning “old school” lead generation campaigns and taking control of the front end of the B2B sales cycle.
They’re using the same behavior as consumers – researching B2B products and services online before deciding to engage in the sales process, asking questions in online communities, and relying on the online recommendations of their friends and colleagues.
B2B buyers have become skeptical of advertisements and sales pitches; instead of allowing the sales reps to control the buying process, they’re validating their research with peers and deciding when to engage with a sales rep.
Social media and mobile devices have created the age of the customer.
B2B Sales and Marketers Must Change Their Approach
Many of the marketing departments in large B2B companies have already shifted their approach. It’s about sharing information and engaging with communities online to allow prospects to qualify themselves and connect with the sales team when they’re ready.
Small to mid-size B2B companies who haven’t changed their approach risk falling behind. B2B marketers must embrace digital marketing – online communities, social media and mobile devices – because it’s where their prospects are engaging with B2B brands.
B2B sales reps must shift to a more consultative approach, supporting their prospects with timely information and becoming more involved with the marketing team to stay effective in the revenue-generation process.
Our friends at IDS Technology Marketing have prepared a nice summary of how social media and mobile are impacting B2B marketing and sales, both for technology companies and non-technology B2B products and services.
Check it out … and embrace the change! We’ve become more connected than at any point in human history. B2B companies must stay connected to stay relevant.