Revamp Your B2B Playbook for Smarter Marketing

15th March 2023
Revamp Your B2B Playbook for Smarter Marketing

Out with the old one, B2B marketers need to discard the old book and focus on creating actual demand rather than capturing the market.

Spot and Engagement. Intent data combined with predictive analytics is essential to identify accounts in the market and engage them through multiple channels.

Venture. Marketing and sales must work as a team to achieve account-based success.

With all the new tools at our disposal and various channels designed to reach potential customers, B2B marketing would be more accessible than ever. But most marketers would agree that the opposite is true. In fact, when I talk to CMOs, I've learned that building processes and achieving business goals are more complex than ever, especially when budgets (and teams) are tight.

This difficulty stems from a fundamental problem:

B2B marketers have developed a pamphlet over the past 15 years, partly inspired by my work at Marketo. Fast-forward to this day, and we still rely on the same tactics, even as they become less active.

The main reason the current playbook doesn't work is buyer indifference. Buyers have become desensitized after being bombarded with the same tactics – ebooks, nurturing emails, social media posts, SDR outreach, etc. - for several years. And we can't keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Additionally, the focus on process and revenue generation that I helped lecture on has led B2B marketers to over-focus on capturing demand rather than creating actual demand, which in turn causes making the process and revenue generation harder than ever!

So how do we move on and start seeing results again? The answer is to throw away the old manuals and start over. Here's a summary of the new B2B handbook, mapped to the primary buyer's perception, consideration, and decision journey.

Awareness: Market conditions for your solution

You have two goals in the initial awareness stage. First, you want to help potential buyers realize that they have a problem/problem – that's creating actual demand. Second, you want to build awareness and trust in your business. The challenge is getting your message out to unknown buyers since you can't contact them, and they won't visit your website.

The old playbook tried to capture emails from buyers with private content, but that tactic is no longer as effective as it once was. These buyers are unknown and want to stay that way

It's a great use case for digital advertising, but unfortunately, most advertising solutions are designed for B2C marketing, not B2B. This can easily lead to 50% or more of your spending going to the wrong person in the wrong account and most of your budget being sucked up by a few large accounts. Luckily, with the right ad technology designed for B2B, you can reach the right people on the proper arrangements and do so effectively.

But there's a trick. You need to drop the old book lead generation mindset. These ads are not intended to get someone to click or download your eBook or any traditional call to action. Arguably, your ad shouldn't even have a button to click on. These ads need to connect emotionally and engage the buyer's reptilian brain to dispel fear around the problems you can solve, as well as a sense of trust and security for your business. Your career. 

Success here means abandoning traditional B2B demand generation metrics like cost-per-click and cost-per-lead. In other words, the goal is to move the accounts through the buyer's journey, or in other words, make the good performers aware of the problem so they start looking at solutions. Fortunately, it works! My company recently ran A/B tests for ads, and we found that 62% of the accounts exposed to our ads took the next step, compared to 45% of the funds in the control group. Control. That's 38% more future accounts, thanks to our ads!

Consideration: Attract market accounts

Okay, so our buyers have been avoiding us, but now they know they're in trouble, have "named the problem", and started looking for a solution. Now is the perfect time to get in, get ahead of your competitors, and help shape the rest of the journey.

So how do you identify that magical moment when a new buyer starts looking for a solution? You can use quality account information and predictive analytics to understand your top leads' behaviour in the days and months before they enter the prime sales cycle. Awareness with your company then researches similar accounts showing similar behaviour patterns.

The key here is to leverage what is known as intent data, which examines the content a business reads on the open web for patterns of interest within a topic or category. Besides one crucial aspect, such an approach is entirely privacy compliant as it concerns only the account and not the individual level.

Learning opportunities

From there, you can work to interact with these accounts in several ways. Remember that if you've built trust in the previous step, they'll be even more open to your approach. One tactic that works well is intent-based advertising, where you target your ads to the right companies and specific people who have demonstrated intent in your portfolio and solutions.

In our business, this generates up to seven times more engagement than generic targeting. Note that at this stage, you're trying to drive accounts to your site, and you'll measure the results by "gain," which refers to an increase in qualified web traffic to your site. Your web. With this aerial coverage, you should continue to engage the buyers in this market with other channels, including targeted direct mail, personalized websites, and personalized human outreach. Impersonal.

When a global leader in banking solutions and retail technology begins such a journey, it focuses on choosing the correct target account and testing and optimizing for compatibility. One such program has resulted in outstanding results, including 100% reach, 83% target account engagement, and an 850% increase in click-through rate (CTR) from the benchmark.

Decision: Coordinate sales and marketing

In the old B2B playbook, marketing has shifted the "direction" to sales to continue its journey to the active buying cycle. But we can no longer rely on the traditional transition between marketing and sales as if the buyer's journey were a linear relay.

In the new play, think instead of a football game. The ball can be kicked another way and picked up by another player on the buying committee as they move around the field during the process. Everyone involved, including marketing, sales, and sometimes customer success, must work as a team to achieve their goals. In fact, analysts have found most significant biggest account-based indicator of success is the synergies between marketing and sales. 

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It will also change the way you measure progress and measure success. If touched touching the ball from one end of the field to the other, there would be no point in wasting time trying to assign some market marketing and others to sales. Instead, look at the entire process ("process from all sources"), and you will improve your sales and marketing coordination.

Account selection: Focus your limited resources

I hope this all sounds good. But you will need more time and resources to follow this guide for every possible account in your target market. This playbook only works when you prioritize your bills and focus more resources on the best performances – and less or no help on other accounts.

I recommend that sales always own the selection and prioritization of accounts because otherwise, you risk it's all just a marketing exercise. But marketing can and should guide the process in two ways. First, by helping to determine precisely what rights and investments you will make to an account in each level and thus how many versions you can support. And second, by providing quality data to sales reps to prioritize their selection. It is best to follow the acronym FIRE:

F is suitable: Find the account that matches your ideal client profile 'ICP' using firmography and techniques. 

I intended to: Find accounts with a general interest in your category.

R is for Relationship: Find basic information and account history (maybe a user from another company changed jobs).

E is the Commitment: Identify accounts that have spent time interacting with your business.

Combining them is a great way to select and prioritize your target accounts for the new handbook. Lessons learned from the new B2B Playbook

There is no doubt that there are many challenges facing B2B marketers right now, but there are also many reasons to believe that we can all overcome them. Grab the new handbook this year, and you'll continue moving towards a more innovative, successful marketplace. 

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