Decoding Technology Marketing

B2B marketing strategies in a B2C digital world

Mandy Maxwell wrote this on Mar 20 / 0 comments

Mandy Maxwell approaches marketing wearing a real world lens that reflects her love for and use of technology.

I attended a conference this past year where the focus was all things digital. I was excited to get new ideas from industry leaders and digital trendsetters that I could bring back to my clients who are selling technology in the B2B space, but I quickly discovered that the conversations happening right now are mostly focused on consumer marketing. So how do we (B2B marketers) capitalize on the big digital trends that are so prevalent in the consumer space? What I’ve learned is that the tools are the same; it's about knowing your audience (the right audience), and being clear on how you want them to respond to a digital interaction.

When I look at the major digital trends in the consumer space—social media, mobile apps, interactive web experiences, viral campaigns—I see the potential for B2B marketers to capitalize on similar interactions. But before you choose which platform to market on, you have to get clear on the interactions you want to have with your audience.

First, let me clarify that I’m not talking about small business marketing. In many cases, small business marketing is a lot like consumer marketing. What I’m talking about is reaching mid-market and enterprise organizations. Let’s not assume that digital marketing is always (or even sometimes) going to lead to direct sales in the mid-market and enterprise space. It's more about creating awareness, connecting with influencers, and soliciting action that gets organizations and people within them closer to the product.

When you break down the business audience, there are three typical profiles: decision makers, influencers, and end-users. A solid B2B digital strategy should address all three.

1.       Decision makers: In a small company your chances of influencing a purchasing decision via digital marketing is pretty good. For larger companies, the purchasing process typically involves in-person interactions whether by a partner or the company selling the product. Digital marketing can certainly be used as a means to contact and connect with this audience, but deeper conversations and sales are often achieved in different forums. Typical digital marketing efforts, such as social, advertising, online campaigns, etc. are not likely to reach or influence IT and business decision makers.    

2.       Influencers: This is your digital marketing sweet-spot for mid-market and enterprise. Influencers are likely IT personnel and end-users that are in a position to provide input to IT and business decision makers. They are the ones looking to consume information and explore the options available to them. There are many ways to use digital marketing to “romance” this audience. A few examples include advertising, online communities, curated content sites, and third-party content syndication.

3.       End-users: Three words; adoption, loyalty, and usage. A company might not base purchasing decisions solely on end-user requirements and requests, but end-users can have a significant impact on whether a company buys more or upgrades. Digital marketing makes it easy to connect with this often fickle audience, whether you want to create ambassadors or power-users, or just keep end-users satisfied. Social media, end-user focused microsites/apps and training, and contests that help increase usage are just a few ways to engage this audience online. 

When you are clear on your audience, you can get clear on results. A social media campaign targeting end-users won’t necessarily lead to direct sales for mid-market or enterprise companies, but it will generate awareness for influencers and potentially create loyalty or ambassadorship in end-users. Brand awareness and customer loyalty are an integral part of the customer lifecycle and should be given as much investment as sales. 

So what’s my recommendation for how to take advantage of digital marketing and outreach in the mid-market and enterprise spaces? Don’t try to boil the ocean. If you focus digital outreach on influencers you should enable and motivate them to have conversations with their IT or business decision makers. In turn, those decision makers should end up on your website to fact check and hopefully take the next step and make contact.