To be, or not to be – that is the question for B2B Digital Marketers

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Wikipedia attributes to the Financial Times, a rather succinct definition of Digital Marketing, which says:

“Digital marketing is an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.”

From a target market standpoint, digital marketing seems to have had a fair amount of penetration in the business-to-consumer (B2C) world, but still seems to lag in terms of holistic adoption in the B2B (business-to-business) world, and even less so in the B2G (business-to-government) world.

As a marketer, who has worked in all three of these environments (B2C/B2B/B2G), one of the major problems I noticed in the B2B/B2G domains is that many companies invariably lack a digital marketing plan or even a digital marketing strategy. Some of these companies not only lack a Revenue Performance Management vision that incorporates Marketing as an equal partner in driving Sales, but they also tend to dabble in digital media activities on a largely ad hoc basis. The corporate directive appears to suggest digital marketing is tantamount to having a web site that displays the perfunctory social media buttons – while, in reality, these social media properties and blogs languish due to a concomitant lack of timely and pertinent content marketing efforts. If at all, any B2B content marketing efforts are sporadic and opportunistic with no guiding long-term strategy or plan.

My efforts to find out why “B2B digital marketing” is not being adapted in a more meaningful manner, led me to an insightful article on entrepreneur.com – Daniel Newman’s “The 10 Essential Tips for B2B Marketing Success in a Digital Economy” Mr. Newman breaks up B2B digital marketing strategy into three basic concepts – being found, being seen and being heard. He then goes on to explain what each of these concepts entail and I have summarized the steps below:

BEING FOUND

  1. The website: Your digital kingdom.
  2. Content: What’s your story?
  3. Search basics: What SMBs really need to know about search.
  4. Social listening: Figuring out your audience online.

BEING SEEN

  1. Social media: Connecting your ideas with the world.
  2. Paid media: Placing content in the right spots.
  3. Upcycling content: Increase visibility and your reach.
  4. Social selling: Moving consumers through the funnel.

BEING HEARD

  1. Build commitment: Like, follow, subscribe.
  2. Online engagement: A one-to-one conversation.

For more details on each of the ten steps, readers can click on the above link and read the entire article. I also found another interesting take on the subject from smartinsights.com – David Chaffey’s “Don’t get left behind with your Digital Marketing Strategy, follow these 7 Steps to Brilliant B2B Marketing!” Mr. Chaffey outlines seven steps that a B2B needs to follow in its digital marketing efforts:

  1. Develop a B2B strategy
  2. Effective websites
  3. Search Marketing
  4. Content and Inbound Marketing
  5. Social Media for B2B Marketing
  6. Lead Generation and CRM
  7. Analytics and Improvement

The bottom line is B2B/B2G companies must get out of yesteryear’s mindset that Sales is the only critical function that contributes to revenues. SEO/SEM, content marketing and social media properties cannot be treated as merely advertising and branding tools – they need to be integrated into the ongoing management of a company’s revenue cycle. Especially in long sales cycles, digital marketing, when executed with a well-planned strategy that has been incorporated into the annual financial plan and a longer-term business plan, can contribute significantly to a company’s growth, productivity, customer satisfaction, and yes, its brand equity.

Marketing has come a long way from the days of the “Mad Men” of Madison Avenue. Today’s Don Draper is a hybrid “creative-analyst” with a laptop, who nurtures clients throughout the revenue lifecycle by marketing the right content to the right entities at the right time using the right channels – this, in a nutshell, is what B2B digital marketing is all about. And, when executed as outlined above, there is no question digital marketing has to be… an integral part of every B2B’s business plan and its marketing function!

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About Jack Nargundkar

High-tech marketing is always a constant compromise between logical left-brain analytics and creative right-brain activities. Jack has been living this struggle his entire working career, which he began as a software geek after graduating with a BSEE degree from Bombay University. To hone his marketing skills, Jack went on to pursue an MBA degree from Columbia Business School in New York City. Jack has since gained wide-ranging marketing experience from working at start-ups to Fortune 500 companies in the global IT, Defense & Space, and Telecommunications industries. In the past few years, Jack has focused on developing integrated marketing strategies and plans that incorporate a judicious mix of inbound and outbound marketing techniques. In addition to being a self-published author, Jack has been recognized for outstanding analytical and communications skills, authoring technical articles (self and ghosted) in numerous trade publications and editorial opinions in Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
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