A changing B2B environment presenting challenges
The world is becoming saturated in every sense of the term, market saturation is rife and there are more people than you can shake stick at. While this has led to some interesting B2C (business to customer) business models and novel ways to generate money it has also impacted B2B (business to business) revenue streams and marketing strategies.
B2B marketing strategies have been impacted extensively by the turbulent stock market thanks to whales, twitter and mass misinformation along with ignorance to impact the market. The cryptocurrency market unfortunately has made a major impact on trading and unfortunately is currently on a dead cat bounce like no other. No-one knows what will happen next, sheets have shown that it is at the dreaded ‘cross-over point of death’ and appears to be crashing. While only time will tell how bad cryptocurrency will get, it has had a major impact on commodities such as gold that was originally through a safer bet, market sheets all appear to show an ‘adjustment’ is soon to occur due to over inflated stock prices.
So, what does this mean for B2B? Well, it is a double-edged sword, for those companies that have over expanded and not recession proofed their business they have little option but to reduce their advertising budget as the get short on revenue to push into marketing. Those that are recession proofed or have some backing such as the smaller trees in the rainforest of business can grow rapidly as they get more canopy light. In either situation whether a barking dog or a shooting start in risk there is opportunity irrespectively.
As the stock market is one factor impacting B2B so is a difference in demographics. In the old days meeting or calling your contacts was a key requirement to gaining and retaining clients. Marketing did not need to be so overt and on mass.
These days and likely due to population increase and people fraying at the edges there appears to be a more flippant polarized persona. The abundance of companies and services pandering for business appears to buyers as static or digital noise. Even if you have a coherent marketing campaign it may be worthless to break though the competitors.
Technological advancement driving change
In years gone by a glossy marketing campaign where the branding was solid, the product novel and the need present, now means nothing! Competitors have caught up and the scale of escalation in business professionalism has now ground to a halt; you are either at a standard or you are not. This has been driven by subscription-based design tools and the abundance of freelancers and internal processionals that can easily meet the standard.
The new B2B marketing paradigm
So, what do you do if you are stuck like most with almost no money or zero money to conduct B2B marketing campaigns? Like a hunter you need to observe the tracks, buyers are always providing you with information and you just need to sift through it effectively to find the meat of the matter. Businesses do not stop unlike customers in turbulent times, they can’t do otherwise they lose traction in the marketplace and go belly-up.
Check the outgoings from each company like a radio operator listening for depth charges. Each company sends out news and client relations material almost daily, you should be able to build a coherent CRM idea of what could be sold to that client. Obviously, you need a large-scale plan not just a one-off purchase option. This is where having a subscription option along with consumables or routine servicing can be useful to try and tie your data of the business with the media outgoings.
While this sounds pragmatic, there has to be a faster approach that will give better results for not just one company but all of them on your contact sheet. Business needs at a granular level normally changes rapidly, even for high-value offerings. Thus, in addition to collecting information, you need it to be current and coherent. Furthermore, stalking a handful of companies that you can potentially supply may be manageable however even for most SMEs you will likely be dealing with hundreds of businesses; automation has to be the key to success.
One way is to integrate all data from different contact surfaces into one centralized data management system. Imagine, you have just sent out a post about a certain offering and you get a post back from the buyer on the media, wouldn’t it be could if you could collect all that data that would likely to be missed. This means all platforms would need to be linked from the CRM system to the businesses blog site and SMS communications system. Through doing this you can have all data organized with automated data processing into the CRM and the CRM flagging sales what they need to market.
While this sounds like an investment that costs money or difficult to implement it isn’t. Systems can be implemented with little to no coding needed, can be provided through subscription services to spread the cost over the life of the business and not leave you out of pocket. Additionally, as users already know their existing platforms well, only a small amount of training is required for end users. Also, administration interfaces are designed to be ergonomic saving more time upskilling.
Data management systems can be used across many brands, making your life running marketing campaigns much easier, furthermore by centralizing data you save money on storage and backup costs. This cost is irrespective of if your business is situated on a cloud subscription-based server or locally on some heavy metal. Interestingly you may find that you pay for the cost of a data management system through this leaner data management approach.
What you need to do
Most solutions will have a ‘free’ option that will allow you to test systems that has a capped performance for an unlimited period of time, this allows you to upskill and figure out how and if you want to use the system in the first place without the hassle of limited time offerings that stress everyone out and are never given for a long enough time to try the solution effectively.
Once you have decided to check out data management systems, the best place to start is to conduct some home maintenance and clean your data. When was the last time that you checked to see that users of your CRM haven’t been entering incorrect data into the system or that duplicate entries exist? The great news is that this can be done for each platform normally without much disruption. Here although you may wish jump straight to each database and run commands on them, it is better to use the software interface to check and to ensure you don’t break the system. Make sure you take a backup before you start of the system and the database and don’t rely on just taking a snapshot if running virtual machines.
The excellent news is that you can roll out a development system first, test it and use it to train users on it prior to rolling it back to the installed state. Training will not be much; the user interfaces will remain the same however automated CRM messages will likely be setup to tell marketing useful information. Administration will need to be learnt however these systems normally are similar to CRM administration interfaces and therefore shouldn’t pose much challenge.
Normally during any business change, this will be started on a Friday evening, the system updated, tested by end users and administrators over the weekend to a user acceptance testing (UAT) method predefined during the development stage. Finally, after successful testing the system is rolled out and users on Monday morning are using it. This is always a tense time however if you spend enough time testing the implementation at the development stage and defining adequate installation documentation, the roll out should be relatively smooth. So, what happens if it somehow the implementation fails, well the implementer should just be able to switch back to the existing system, update users and reassess during the week. Then if needed the process is repeated the following weekend or convenient down time period.
To improve your success at B2B marketing you need to listen more. As in life if you are too busy sending content out you will never hear the opportunities that are present. While this process could be done for a handful of businesses manually it is not an effective use of time. Instead as business are interconnected these days through interfaces such as commercial websites, blogs etc. Like a spider waiting on a web a centralized data management system will allow you to get all data and process it much more effectively with a lower data overhead cost. Filtering data can only occur when data is coherent and in one place and will be your key tool to marketing and business success in these trying times.