What does great B2B engagement look like – both in a time of Covid-19 lockdown and in the future?
B2B Marketing’s latest webinar gave the topic due attention, not least because of the topic’s temperature right now, according to editor-in-chief, Joel Harrison:
“It’s a hot topic at the moment as the buyer has never been more savvy or difficult to reach. Now, the rules of the game have changed exponentially…we’re adjusting to a new working environment; a fascinating, new and challenging world that forces innovation,” he said.
What is great engagement?
According to Harrison and his fellow panellists – Tessa Baron, VP Marketing ON24; Brian Macreadie, head of marketing at Addleshaw Goddard LLP and Jessica Highsmith, global advocacy communications manager at Cisco – great B2B engagement has many facets, including:
- Engagement for more than its own sake: an experience that entertains, gives value and is a win-win for audience and marketer.
- Anything that gets you noticed, remembered, considered, chosen.
- Moving customers to be passionate advocates for your brand.
- Authentic storytelling from a customer perspective.
- Having a measurable end result, e.g. getting sign-up to a demo.
- Starting a customer behaviour/journey that will lead to something along the way – and maybe contracting the timeframe
- Creating an experience, not just a transaction
Metamorphic PR posed a question to the panel about how well they think B2B companies are currently engaging with their customers and prospects.
Typically, the panel observed, performance varies across companies. Tessa Baron said: “Large enterprises can have very specific approaches in their business units but then pockets of innovation…to let audiences segment themselves, for example a webinar that can apply to everybody but allows different parts of the audience to engage with different products.”
However, Brian Macreadie pointed out the perils of not being distinctive: “Marketers I meet get the principles of modern marketing. But a lot of marketing we end up with is vanilla wallpaper that feels fairly similar between competitors. How do we stand out from the crowd? What is distinctive about us, our products, our positioning and our communications?
Being brave in B2B engagement
Is bravery a facet of good B2B marketing?
According to Macreadie, bravery in B2B can scare some people but, “we have to trade on great ideas – ideas that make the hairs stand up on the back of our necks. And what will happen if we don’t run this idea and go with something vanilla? We won’t win market share or new business.”
And bravery means going beyond static Powerpoint presentations, said Baron: “We are seeing marketers do incredible things. Covid-19 has pushed marketers to think outside typical convention, such as 15-minute daily briefings sharing an analyst’s take or holding a panel and replicating a talk show.
“Stop being forced to think of set rules – all of your channels are a different means of sharing a story and an opportunity to make your brand come alive.”
B2B engagement on a budget
When budgets are under pressure (as they undoubtedly are right now), how do marketers make more from less?
“It’s about proving value to leadership; being creative with engagement campaigns and hopefully winning more budget,” Jessica Highsmith said.
Even webinars from home need not be “fancy at all”, Tessa Baron added: “You’re able to generate organic advocacy by someone sharing a snippet of daily life for sales to share.” She emphasised the importance of “leveraging every bit of communication” with a “call to action”, such as following up a download with a thank you email and further content.
She added: “Today’s brand is tomorrow’s demand. This is the right time to build trust…educate and offer expertise; something meaningful that will set up companies for success after all of this is over.”
And, as for personalisation in B2B engagement Macreadie is clear: “When you’re building brands personalisation is a complete nonsense. Make it visible and conspicuous for the whole market.”
Even more succinct, Baron concluded: “If you’re relevant, that’s personalised.”
Listen on demand to B2B Marketing’s webinar.
Contact Metamorphic PR for help with engaging content