Selling the way buyers buyConsilium Global Business Advisors has created a business development model for B2B small and medium size businesses that builds on two indisputable and enormous opportunities. The parallel paths of effective marketing and new markets offer American companies huge growth potential - but it will only be realized by those companies that boldly embrace the opportunity.
Today Dave Kaupp, Consilium principal and digital marketing expert, offers insight into this innovative model and how SMBs can benefit.
CGBAdv - You come from a traditional agency background with the normal emphasis on design and marketing communications. But now your careening off into this other sphere of digital marketing emphasis. What gives?
DK - Interesting question - both because it's been a fascinating journey, but also because I would argue that the evolution I've been through very closely parallels what every B2B company needs to experience as well.
I see marketing today as a continuum. On the one end is the hipster, late' drinking artist. On the other is a computer scientist, statistics whiz and applied math genius. There's a pretty broad range. But the art end has become largely comoditized. Technology allows reasonably creative people to produce great looking stuff. I mean there's certainly a range of creativity and talent, but the tools have made good, and even great design pretty ubiquitous. The skills on the other end of the spectrum are far more unique - but quite difficult for most companies to afford or integrate into their approaches.
So there came a time as this shift was occurring that I realized I didn't want to compete with everyone with illustrator and photoshop. I wanted to make a substantial difference in businesses. I sold my interest in my agency and began a series of pretty innovative involvements in applying increasingly sophisticated digital marketing approaches as part of 'in-house' agencies I built for various companies.
Suddenly around 2010 I found the hard-to-use and marginally effective platforms suddenly come of age - and with that inflection point suddenly best practices became available to small and medium size businesses as well.
Now marketing permeates every aspect of progressive companies' approach to their markets. And for the first time in my career we can provide real-time analytics, ROI info and campaign adjustments. There's no more 'trust me, you're going to love it and by the way did I mention I've won some really sexy design awards' approach to some mystical science. Now marketing directly support business. It's a tremendously exciting time to be in marketing.
CGBAdv - You're getting me excited. Sounds pretty neat. But...I don't think I've seen a huge shift in most B2B marketing. Am I missing it?
DK - That's a fair point. Many people probably ask themselves the same thing. If it's so incredibly awesome, why isn't it broadly adopted?
Watching this for a while now I'd say there are probably four reasons. First, and maybe most importantly, the bottom line is that the way people buy has dramatically changed. Not just the fact that we use the interner, but how we use it and how incredibly pervasive the influence has become. But we all tend to view things through the lens that we've developed overtime. And many folks tend to still see things through the lens of how they used to be - from their perspective. They haven't really stepped back to see them from the buyers' perspective.
Second, there's a strong silo mentality in companies. Marketing does one thing (normally generate leads) and sales does another (jump on those leads and try to convert them.) There's a strong sense that these are distinct and only partially related activities. Maybe that used to be - when B2B marketing was journal ads and fishbowls for business cards at trade shows. But nor more. And just as an aside, that's why we've named our new report "The Current State of B2B Sales & Marketing: Why CEOs should be pumped and VPs of Sales should be terrified!"
Third, agencies resist. They have traditional perspectives and biases too. And this evolution will rapidly lead to the extinction of traditional agencies. But they're not eager to hasten that - to the extent that they even allow themselves to see it - so they keep telling companies to double down on what's always worked, and add a sexy website on top of it.
Finally, owners and senior execs of established businesses are pretty conservative when it comes to dramatic change - and particularly if they grew up out of the sales, finance or technical ranks (doesn't leave much else, does it!?) So they tweak a little around the edges, afraid of embracing something that's too radical.
CGBAdv - So what's different now and what's it take to succeed?
DK - We've got a great report we're releasing shortly on the current landscape of B2B Sales & Marketing. (pre-register here) That goes into much more detail, but briefly as on-line search has evolved companies have changed the way they source and buy. That's not news, but the way the changes have occurred seems to shock many companies. Probably the two most important stats to understand are that 93% of all B2B purchases are initiated with search and that now a buying process is at least 70% complete before a vendor sales rep ever becomes involved. That's where inbound marketing comes in.
Buying is now a self-service activity - even of complex B2B products and services. Buyers expect to pace the process and become educated in the space along the way. So companies that succeed do so by providing educational support along with a virtual sales process built on a virtual dialog and relationship with a buyer. And we offer more specifics on how to achieve that in our eBook "13 Steps to B2B Marketing Success."
CGBAdv - But aren't some companies doing this already?
DK - Of course. Some are. Very, very few are actually doing it well. Many are doing much of the work, but because of nuance are realizing very little of the potential value. And others only dabble in parts of it and assume, ignorantly, that they're cutting edge. They're actually the toughest to get on board because they become easily offended if you highlight areas where they could improve.
CGBAdv - So how do companies get this rolling?
DK - The good news is that it's simple - at least in it's early phases. The bad news is that it's not easy. There's a lot of work. Much of it is repetitive and boring. So our experience is that companies that succeed do so by partnering with a firm which handles much of the technical details and grunt work. BUT, and this is an important but, this is for efficiency and convenience. Nothing drives me nuts like when I hear "We have to have the web developer change that text or add that press release to our website."
It's not a black art - rather this is because a web developer is into technology for it's sake rather than as a business tool, or simply because they want the annuity income. That's a model I warn people off of - and I strongly recommend that companies which engage assistance with their B2B marketing ensure that the agency helping them keeps them involved in each step so they can take it in-house if they want to.
Want to learn more about how Consilium can help your company catch up? Contact us.
And download our free report "A Step by Step Guide to Internet Marketing" below.