A Q&A with Tom Pick: What B2B Marketers Should Stop Doing Right Now
Corporate speak and buzzwords are rarely a win-win and, while they may seem par for the course, they rarely move the needle in B2B marketing.
In case your eyes glazed over from all that jargon, the point is this: B2B buyers are looking for authentic brand experiences. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as turning on a sincere speech generator. (But wouldn’t it be great if you could?)
Tom Pick, B2B Digital Marketing Consultant at Webbiquity, is an expert on authentic brand messaging—and other challenges B2B marketers face. We recently sat down with Tom to discuss tips and strategies for marketers striving to connect with customers and outpace the competition.
What’s Next for B2B Marketers: Q&A with Tom Pick
Treasure Data: It seems like modern B2B buyers are acting more like B2C consumers. Are you seeing an evolution in how B2B buyers shop? How should marketers be changing their approach?
Tom: Yes, B2B buyers are definitely bringing expectations from their consumer lives into the workplace. This has a couple of major impacts for marketers.
The first is to understand that all marketing is ultimately P2P (person to person). Though B2B buyers need business and financial justification for their purchases, emotion also plays a role. That’s why messaging is becoming more authentic and direct: getting away from buzzwords, corporate-speak, and jargon, and incorporating more storytelling.
The second is the importance of removing friction in the buying process. This is why the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model has gained such a strong position, and why vendors are wrapping their offerings up with easy-to-use integration tools and white-glove service.
Treasure Data: What are the most crucial skills for a modern B2B marketing team?
Tom: The most crucial skills to have internally, even if there are only two or three people on your team, are:
The ability to set (and constantly adjust) overall marketing strategy;
Email marketing/marketing automation; and
There are lots of other specific skills needed to run a modern marketing operation (content development, graphic design, SEO, PR, influencer marketing, PPC management, video production) but these can be outsourced more easily. They may be in-house skills on larger corporate marketing teams.
Treasure Data: One of your specialties is martech. What is one component that is missing from too many marketers’ tech stacks?
Tom: Most companies have embraced marketing automation at some level, and have tools in place for basic functions like graphic design and social media management.
But one area many companies still miss is project management tools, particularly products like Teamwork Projects or Monday.com. A lot of planning is still done using Excel or Google Docs, which aren’t optimal for keeping everything and everyone on track.
Another underutilized area is brand monitoring. Ironically, most providers of brand monitoring tools don’t even do a good job of this. But it looks bad when customers, prospects, and influencers are out there talking about your brand on blogs and social networks—and your company isn’t responding.
Treasure Data: How can B2B marketers make better use of data to inform their marketing?
Tom: In a word: TEST. Test everything.
Most email and marketing automation systems make it easy to test elements like subject line, personalization, and calls to action.
Online ad platforms like Google Ads make it easy to test keywords, ad copy, images, and other campaign elements.
And most importantly, landing pages. You’ll see all sorts of articles and blog posts telling you to use larger images on your landing pages—or smaller images. Or video. To use more copy, or less. To change the color of your “submit” button (and never use the word “submit”). But the only way to know what works best for your audience and your product or service offering is to test!
Treasure Data: It seems like marketers are still figuring out the next generation of B2B content. What’s your philosophy of content marketing for B2B?
Tom: Content still drives marketing results. It’s just that the explosion of online content has made it more difficult to stand out and rank well.
The content marketers who will win in this environment are those who best understand their customers and prospects. What’s driving them to look for a new solution? How are they searching—what questions are they asking, and what specific words do they use? Where are they looking for information beyond search engines?
The better that marketers understand their audience, the more relevant and effective they can be with their content marketing efforts.
Treasure Data: What do you think is an overlooked channel for B2B marketing? What tactic is getting underused?
Tom: Perhaps not underused but certainly misused is influencer marketing. If you Google “cheap blogger outreach” (you really shouldn’t … but if you do) you’ll see ads for services no one should ever use. Seriously, this is like using leeches to cure tonsillitis. Bad idea.
Influencer marketing isn’t about spammy outreach, crappy copy, and cheap one-off backlinks. It’s about building relationships that help you create better content, raise your brand profile, and generate buzz among the people your prospects listen to. And yes, it can get backlinks as well.
Treasure Data: What should B2B marketers stop doing right now?
Tom: Producing content without a strategy!
Creating content haphazardly and sort of “throwing it against the wall to see what sticks” actually sort of worked two to three years ago—but not any longer.
Ideally, each piece of content produced should fit into a predefined strategic framework for generating leads and moving them through the buying process. At a minimum, every piece of content should address a known problem for a defined audience and incorporate a clear call to action.
Bolster Authenticity with Improved Customer Understanding
With more profound knowledge about your B2B customers, you are better able to customize messages to meet their specific needs. Treasure Data enterprise Customer Data Platform (CDP) makes it easy to capture and analyze customer behavior data from online and offline channels. With a 360-degree view of your customers, you’ll be able to ascertain what’s truly driving sales and provide offers and promotions to propel your business and relationships forward.