Here’s how to stand out

The Drum recently highlighted that 61% of B2B tech buyers believe corporate brand messaging is too vague to actively represent their brand and attract buyers. Content marketing is plagued nowadays by thought leadership pieces that fail to answer the overlooked question “What does your solution do new, and for whom?”. But remember, a potential buyer out there will have a problem that can be best solved with your solution.

Now, during a period where advertising spend is dropping rapidly, and businesses are cost-cutting to build resilience to turbulent market conditions – B2B communicators must ensure that their brand messaging is not vague, but directed at the business issues of their prospective buyers.

The tech market is becoming increasingly crowded. With a diverse and sophisticated range of solutions available, pre-empting and answering the who’s, what’s and why’s from prospective buyers and building them into valuable marketing material is central to success. Creating content that builds both innovation and reliability into brand image, alongside provoking the memory recall necessary to spark cognitive resonance, is critical.

So, courtesy of LinkedIn’s Brand to Buyer’s Report, here’s a few steps on how to navigate the market with clarity and strength in brand:

1. Blend strategic and creative thinking to target the entire sales funnel: 

There are two key aspects dominating the need to boost creativity in content marketing. Firstly, although 69% of businesses are planning to increase their marketing budgets in 2023, buyers are looking for proven ROI. Marketers need to demonstrate value-for-money in their content – whether this is brochures, sales collateral or thought leadership and PR material. Out-of-the-box thinking is critical to defining and showing ROI.

Secondly, 73% of buyers don’t believe that ads demonstrate a good understanding of their organizations problems – so marketers need to ensure their knowledge of market challenges is up-to-date. By doing this, marketers can ensure that their solutions are tailored effectively to maximize sales opportunities.

Bringing these two aspects together is no easy task – and may change depending on where the prospect is in the sales funnel.

Research on market challenges can help marketers build their knowledge base, before using their unique creativity to find a newsworthy angle from which to write and pitch. LinkedIn recommends that marketers use data-driven insights to target specific pockets of buyers – a practice that’s integral to our Pitch&Place strategy here at IBA.

Take a recent article on trends in IT Consultancy written for our business management software client. After finding that 95% of tech companies are seeking to address widespread skills shortages, our editorial team identified an opportunity to publicize our client’s message on using tech to automate certain processes and reallocate resources. The resulting article gave the client numerous top tier media placements in target tech and IT media – improving brand visibility with a key underlying message.

This approach can equally be used to stimulate mid-funnel sales cycles and push prospective buyers to make a final purchasing decision. Simply put, marketers need to prove themselves by creatively and strategically composing specific – not vague – material that proves their technology can address different challenges, depending on where their prospects sit in the B2B sales funnel.

2. Don’t be afraid to seek endorsement from external partners – build evangelists

When marketing strategy fails to have the desired impact, when the expected volume or quality of placements don’t land, or when social media impressions drop off – the prospect pipeline won’t fill up. Evaluation, evaluation, and more evaluation is required to identify why a campaign has not taken off, and marketers usually look inward to question what has gone wrong.

But looking outwardly and introducing third-party influence is also important.

LinkedIn’s study found that only 34% of all buyers have used external consultants, integrators and channel partners to find additional information about brands they want to invest in. As their evidence suggests that most buyers want to remain anonymous throughout the buying process, it’s essential to ensure intelligence on your product is available from a wide range of third-party sources.

Don’t underestimate the pulling power of other channels, including consultancies, systems integrators, partners, and existing customers, to add advocacy from trusted voices to campaigns such as product launches.

We’re experts in third-party endorsement here at IBA, having secured numerous case study articles for our business software management client and enterprise software client in recent months. We know how to leverage authoritative research in influencer focused content campaigns, so here’s our take.

Remember, publicity for you is also publicity for the third-party – make evangelists out of your whole business ecosystem

3. Consider meeting buyers on familiar territory

What good is a solid outbound strategy without strong inbound digital marketing to complement it? An omnichannel approach has never been more essential – but while buyers still want to meet in-person at events, the age-old tactic of setting up glitzy trade show pavilions is undoubtedly behind us. 

Buyers still want connections, to meet with your brand in a space that is comfortable for them. But, as expected, they increasingly want this to occur digitally. Respondents to the LinkedIn study clearly demarcated that search engines, social media platforms, and vendor websites are the top three places that they seek information on brands.

Making sure that brand messaging not only appears in the places that buyers are most likely to see it, but is coherent across these three platforms, is crucial.

Data holds the key…

Use SEO wisely:

Ensuring that SEO is focused on specific customers is no new phenomenon. Search Engine advertising has increased by 26% over the last 12 months – but there is still merit to organically climbing the rankings by using content that targets specific results. As we highlighted last year, using short-tail key phrases including ‘CRM for business’ or ‘top enterprise technology’ can stimulate rankings growth alongside enhancing memory recall, and deep data insights from analysis of high-performing words can signpost the direction your SEO strategy should take.

Social Media analysis:

As 32% of tech marketers are designating the highest proportion of their budgets to Social Media advertising, it is important for B2B marketers to take an in-depth look at where their social content is hitting, and build a new strategy accordingly.

From our experience, this works! Since November 2022, the IBA team has worked on a new social media reporting grid to track aspects of social media including posting times and post themes. Content is then planned according to the insights gained from the data, allowing more focused posts – which has resulted in a nearly 700% increase in impressions across our Twitter accounts.

Marketers must act with purpose and clarity, not with vague generalizations

Knowing your own brand is only half the story. Whether it means harnessing deep data insights to improve SEO, seeking third-party endorsements, or producing more creative content that addresses prospect pain points, if B2B professionals act decisively to produce material that appeals to their buyers, their brand’s mind share will soar.

It’s all about conveying ‘what the product does new and for whom’ – don’t leave your prospects with more questions than they came with!

Tom Wrath is a PR Executive at IBA International.

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