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B2B Bullseye

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The SES: Chicago conference rolls in through its second day and continues to be a real learning experience. WebProNews publisher Rich Ord sat in on the “Targeting B2B” session and found a lot of useful information. The session centered on relationship building as the primary focus for B2B marketing.

Editor’s Note: Need to work on making your B2B prospects better? Check out this discussion and other events at SES on the WebProWorld Forum.

Both speakers emphasized B2B marketing is much different from traditional consumer marketing because the sales cycle is much longer. B2B marketing is all about building the relationship first and the sales later.

Two speakers lent their expertise to this informative session. First up was Karen Breen Vogal, CEO of B2B advertising firm ClearGauge and she started by analyzing what’s different in B2B search marketing. She broke down into six basic points:

Goals – Start or develop relationships
Engines – Major search and business/vertical and specific
Keyword – Buying cycle and role-based
Messages – Value prop/offer aligned to buying cycle and role
Landing pages – Options for interactions/content/next date
Tracking ROI – Show ROI pipeline, cost/behavior

Unlike B2C, B2B marketing is generally a buyer-initiated medium. Decision makers and influencers at all stages of the buying cycle are utilizing the Internet to further their decisions process. They way to advantage of that buyer initiated medium is to place your desire to form a relationship into the prospect’s path.

Clearly, B2B search marketing should not just be the replication of the direct marketing approach. It should be more of a relationship approach. Perhaps the best advice is to always reach out and give visitors more things to do on your site and always try to get their permission to talk to become a prospect via email. The buying cycle takes time with B2B so obtaining email contact permission from the site visitor is key.

Some things to know with B2B paid search include content vs. search ads. Negative keywords are important because you must take out certain words with B2B paid search. The reason you need to do this with B2B is because we are dealing with low volume searching in B2B. Daily ad caps were also mentioned because marketers with bigger ad camps will likely get the more coveted key words. This is a key factor with Google.

She ended saying, “Don’t do anything until you get your website analytics and measurement right. Every company in a B2B environment must be good at targeting, good at persuasion and good at conversion.”

Remember to focus on the entire buying cycle, to be prospect centric and to focus on the most important business metrics.

Paul Slack was the next speaker. He also runs a B2B advertising firm, called WebDex. He added to what she had to say and expanded things further. He talked a lot about the B2B sales cycle. He broke it down:

Uncover needs
Research possible solutions
Short list of vendors
Go to bid
Make a decision

“When you’re dealing with a long cycle and are trying to generate a lead rather than a sell you need to put prospects in a bucket as either an influencer or a decision maker. Then you need to turn your website into and influencer catcher. Influencers are better searchers than decision makers because they are usually the most likely to respond to your offers.”

If you can help the influencer with a solution he’s looking for, you will do better with sales. Decision makers are different because they are late in the cycle.

Slack said, “We are finding that they are utilizing Yahoo and Google to verify the information provided them by the influencer.” For certain ads, create them as a validation ad targeted toward c-level decision makers. Then create special bulleted landing pages for this type of prospect. Websites exist to fulfill a specific purpose and to satisfy a customer’s needs.

He also went further to say it’s critical for B2Bs to measure well. Slack recommended a comparative analysis that includes the cost per lead, the cost per acquisition and a break-even analysis.

In the end, what they’re both talking about is providing a value to the customer through service. Once the initial contact is made with a prospect, you have to make sure they know you are the authority on whatever product you deal with.

You need to be knowledgeable and present both the product and service in such a way as to be appealing. In many cases, it’s the warm-fuzzy feeling you’re going for. You may not make the sales initially, but they will know you’re there and you not only know what you’re talking about but can also provide good information. Once you’ve built that relationship, then the sales will come.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

B2B Bullseye
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