As your focus moves from survive to thrive, clever marketing is going to be a strategic necessity. Ice Blue Sky works with B2B organisations to deliver higher than average marketing qualified leads and/or sales qualified leads, so what its MD has to say on the topic is worth hearing.
Case studies have been the mainstay of many a PSPs marketing strategy for many moons now. But are they the best way to get your reinvented business in front of new customers in the emerging new normal? Charlotte Graham-Cumming, MD of marketing agency Ice Blue Sky gives you something to think about.
1. Think on
It has been proven that companies that continue to invest in marketing during recession survive for longer and are stronger and more robust. Harvard Business Review conducted a study of more than 4,000 companies across all the major recessions of the 20th and 21st centuries, finding that only 9% flourished - and they weren’t the companies that cut costs deeply. They balanced sensible cost cutting with investing in their future. While marketing is not a magic wand by any means, there are several strategies and tools at your disposal.
2. Make the message authentic
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek (2008)
Sinek, as some of you may know, wrote and promoted ‘Start With Why’.
Many businesses focus on capital gain objectives that are purely driven by turnover, stock value or how many offices they have in the world. During - and post - recession many of these businesses sacrifice employees to cut costs, as opposed to looking at operational efficiencies and investing in their future.
The most successful and influential brands on the planet have authentic messaging, that conveys their core values and makes it easy for customers to understand the value they can add and how they do business, attracting the right kind of customers to their brand.
His second book, ‘Find Your Why’ - with additional content written by Peter Docker and David Mead - guides you through a series of exercises that both identifies the ‘Why’ within any one person, or alternatively helps brands and business understand and articulate their ‘Why’.
The process doesn’t just involve the senior or executive management team - it works best when you involve 10-12 people that make up a cross sections of an organisation, fewer if the business is smaller.
‘Why’ statements are split into two parts: the first is a contribution - what do you contribute to the world as a whole; and the second is the impact that it delivers. The great thing about this is that it cannot be replicated by your competition, because it comes from deep within each organisation and is driven by people.
The end point is one of the truest forms of authenticity - the statements cannot be questioned because they are based on the experiences of the company and the people within it.
Helping both internal staff and customers understand the true purpose of an organisation presents a complete picture of what a business stands for and makes communications far more effective.
3. Be data driven
“Data is the new oil.” Clive Humby (2006)
One of the impacts of Covid-19 is that brands will have to work smarter with their data. Personalisation goes well beyond applying “Dear Peter” to an email or piece of direct mail.
From a B2B perspective, you will have to think far more strategically around how you will use data to improve the outcome of your marketing communications. This includes getting people into the top of the marketing funnel then using content and activity to convert them into qualified leads.
Think about the hierarchy of a business - the information and content that you share with middle management would be completely different to that of a senior level or board level individual.
The content that you use with cold data (for example animations) should be different to the content you share with warmer leads (such as webinars, or long form content).
You will need to take time to research and get the contact details of the various people in the businesses you wish to target, tailoring the dialogue for each of those audiences will greatly improve your results.
There are many service providers that can help with the researching and supply of data including Dunn & Bradstreet, Cognism, Electric Marketing, and Abacus Epsilon for example.
Data is and will continue to be the DNA of successful business.
4. Work in collaboration
“No man is an island.” John Donne (1624)
A recent McKinsey report on the impacts of Covid-19 states that a common reaction to the effects on businesses will be the shortening of the supply chain. Typically this involves a more localised approach in relation to supplier relationships.
Organisations will be looking for more ‘total solution providers’ where more of the component parts of service lines are joined up together before they are delivered to the point of requirement. So is it time to start thinking about collaboration?
Look at your business and then look at your customers’ and understand their pain points as a business. Consider what you do and the value you offer, but then see who you could partner with to increase that value. Print companies can find like-minded agencies to promote a full service offering for example.
But one word of caution, make sure any business or individual you decide to tie up with is completely aligned to your ‘Why’ and values, because if not, fractures will appear in relationships and that is ultimately bad for business.
5. Make it move
“A picture paints a thousand words.” Frederick Barnard (1921)
Content has gone through a metamorphosis. The explosion of digital in the early 2000’s led to a proliferation of content, most of it questionable in terms of quality. This has led people to be more selective in what they engage with.
Animation is consistently proving to be a winner in terms of getting people to engage with a brand. Animations outstrip other types of content in terms of social media performance. We’ve seen engagement increase by 200% when using animation.
One- or two-minute videos can be really powerful in promoting what you do. You can even put video into direct mail now with screens that are lightweight and cheap enough to use when targeting new accounts.
It’s incredibly effective too for complex, technical messages, and provides an outlet to demonstrate creativity and humour.
6. Turn to telemarketing
“Never look at what you want to change. Always look at what has changed.” Jane Kang
The simple truth is that business needs to be conducted in much more of a human way. The ‘Covid reset’ made us all realise that we need to get back to basics and work out ways to connect with people when we can’t meet them face-to-face.
Cut through with direct mail is diminishing in B2B due to the displacement of the workforce.
Laying the ground with well storyboarded and personalised telemarketing you can achieve some outstanding results in generating BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline) qualified leads.
Currently we are seeing strong engagement and opportunity levels being created through this medium, particularly when done authentically and with the aim of genuinely providing the help to people that they need.