Only a few years ago, most marketers had not encountered the term inbound marketing. All lead generation was accomplished by traditional or outbound marketing—conventional advertising—print, radio, magazines, e-zines, and even websites. The difference between the two ideologies, inbound and outbound, are striking. While traditional marketing tactics repel, inbound attracts (check out our video).Buyer’s habits have changed. If you try to push your products onto them, they’ll run. Even a few years ago you could push using cutesy or clever advertising. Not so much today. While your branding still is important, the way you communicate to your prospects keeps on growing in importance. Inbound, done right, will solve your need to generate leads affordably and effectively.
1) Marketing Ideology
While there are differences in marketing between B2B and for B2C companies, unless you’re an e-comm or small-ticket retail company, most of those differences fade away in the light of the human factor. As our friend Mike Lieberman notes, marketing today is not so much B2B or B2C, it’s B2H—Business to Human.
If you’re an online or small-ticket retail vendor you might be able to ignore the human factor. Otherwise, you must engage a human to do business. And it’s here where inbound wins. Inbound targets your beloved customers where they are at their level of need.
Inbound for tech companies is engagement-based marketing. If you engage your prospects, you get leads. If you fail to engage, you don’t get leads. That’s why when we sign on a new client, we call the contract an engagement. We are their team, integral to their company.
Of all the humanities: the arts, history, literature—as well as business accounting, finance, HR, globalization, branding—the two arenas that are most human-centric are marketing and sales.
2) Targeting Whom?
B2C tech companies know the importance of branding, packaging, and accurate product information. According to Jon Pavoni, B2B companies could learn some lessons from B2C’s.
Those take-a-ways for B2Bs are:
- Overeducate your propects.
- Publish your prices.
- Streamline your buying process.
- Give away some product.
- Connect on a human level.
My wife came home the other day with a couple of small containers of the most beautiful packaged consumables I’d ever seen. They were dog biscuits—and expensive ones at that. The package was so awesome, I really didn’t care what was inside and was not bothered by the price!
Today, you have about five seconds to turn on or turn off a prospective buyer. How you package, how you relate, how you present, and how real you are are all keys that will engage or repel your customers.
What are your customers looking for? Solutions. Targeting your customers' pain points is and shall always be a critical marketing tactic. I like to tell the story of a small but very successful shoe store on Main St. in my home town in Connecticut. I never can remember the name of the store because the sign hanging above the door reads, “Feet hurt?” Who cares what the name of the store is if they can solve someone’s (literal) pain point?
UberConference is another example of targeting their key customer's pain point. When I first discovered UberConference I thought of that shoe store. Go to UberConference’s home page and you’ll not see the company name, but your pain point is in your face: “Conferencing is a pain.” Also, the very clean, above-the-fold part of the page not only has a cool video background, but the above-the-fold section fills your screen—no matter what resolution the viewport. Brilliant. Screams success. And done with just one line of CSS code. Uber will attract 100% of those visitors coming to their website who have been frustrated with competitive online conference vendors in the past. Big wins there.
3) Create the Right Messaging
For inbound marketing for tech companies to capture leads successfully, you’ll need to know how your target audience typically responds.
While it’s commonly held that for B2B companies, trust, value, and service are the most relevant components of messaging. Without trust, you will never make that sale. Thus, you’ll need to prove your worth (through content marketing) and demonstrate that others trust you (through case studies, social proof, and recommendations).
Emotion has been considered the secret sauce for B2Cs. But in a study by The Corporate Executive Board who partnered with Google, B2Bs need to consider the impact of emotion in buyer’s decision-making.
The study showed B2Bs achieve two times the impact when they connect with buyers at an emotional level. The formula to achieve those connections is not complicated, but some will come by it naturally and some will have to work on it.
How to connect at an emotional level:
- Position yourself and your company to help, not sell.
- Learn as much as you can about your prospect’s company, their achievements, and their goals.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Listen carefully.
- Offer to help but only if you have a solution.
Just yesterday I connected with a lead who is moving down the funnel toward becoming a customer. The connection today was my third touch (since inbound is new, our lead-to-sales cycle can be long; we need to spend a lot of time educating leads about inbound. And we don’t rush them either). During the conversation, the lead made a small comment: “We had such a good year this year, I don’t know how I’m going to exceed that benchmark next year.” Bingo. I know how. I can show you. I can demonstrate ROI.
Listen carefully, then offer to solve if you can. I indeed you have a solution, you need to believe it is the solution and you should be able to prove it.
Both B2B and B2C buyers want solutions. It really comes down to getting to know your customers at the deepest possible level. We need to always understand that people are not buying your products, they’re buying from you.