Thursday, December 18, 2008

What I Learned in Kindergarten about B2B Marketing

There's a lot about B2B marketing that can be learned in kindergarten. Like sharing. It's all the same except that the currency has changed from chocolate bars and those little packages of cheese and crackers to information.

As a provider in the space, you (hopefully) have something to share in terms of your insights, ideas, best practices, and advice, and you definitely have something that you want in terms of an opportunity to share your value proposition with the right audience who may eventually become buyers.

If you haven't yet, think of each of your marketing interactions in terms of a your-chocolate-bar-for-my-cheese&crackers metaphor, and you might come up with some easy wins to better engage your audience.

Top 6 B2B Marketing mistakes of sharing we all should have learned in kindergarten:

  1. Asking for their entire lunch: one of the things that you can ask your audience for, and most B2B marketers do, is their contact information. This is a significant ask, and many potential buyers are hesitant to give it for good reason. But as a marketer, ask for just a little bit (name, email, that's it) at first, and make sure you are offering something good in exchange. Don't ask for 15 fields of information because you "might" need it. Every field makes the hurdle higher.

  2. Trying to trade away the black jelly-beans: We all love our own products. That's healthy. But don't fall into the trap of thinking that "10 reasons you need my product" is rich, value-add content. It's a sales pitch. Even if you get away with it once, you won't get away with it twice.

  3. Going hungry - not asking for anything in return: A contentious point, I know. But, we're all under pressure to build our businesses, and if you don't ask for information, you won't get it. Be respectful, don't ask for too much, but if you continually provide great content, you can ask for a small amount of information in return.

  4. Stealing lunches: It's bad, don't do it. Ever. Kindergarten, or now. Every time you ask a person to pay attention to your message, you are requesting something from them. You'd better provide something in return. If you're emailing them, it is NOT free, it's an "ask", you're asking for their attention. If you don't provide quality content, you've given nothing in return, so pay attention to content quality or you'll lose people's interest quickly.

  5. Taking something you already have in your lunch bag: You don't gain anything, and they feel taken advantage of. If you've already asked them for their industry, title, company size, etc, don't ask again. Put the effort in to make sure you know that you've already got the information, and don't ask for it again. If your content is rich enough, ask something new that you don't already have.

  6. Mistaking your carrots for a chocolate bar: The concept of "valuable content" is thrown around very loosely in some marketing circles. You're not the judge of that, your audience is. Don't let your standards slip until you think you're trading away carrots and convincing yourself they're a chocolate bar. Things like a 1hr webinar with rich, non-salesy content from an independant market expert are good; Things like Top 10 reasons to buy your product are not good.

We at Eloqua have called it "Equitable Exchange of Information", but at the end of the day, it's really about sharing, and the same principles apply to information as to chocolate bars. Create great content, share generously, ask for only a little in return, and you're off to the races.

Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
In my day job, I am with Eloqua, the marketing automation software used by the worlds best marketers
Come talk with me or one of my colleagues at a live event, or join in on a webinar