B2B companies must change their approach to marketing to break through the crowded marketplace and drive strategic growth for their business.
Standing Partnership Group President Melissa Lackey is a member of the St. Louis Business Journal Leadership Trust, an invitation-only network of business leaders and executives who share their successful business knowledge and insights with the Journal’s readers. In October, Melissa was featured in an article on how it’s crucial that business leaders acknowledge the economic environment has changed and therefore, their approach to landing B2B deals must also change to see growth. The article was first published on the Business Journals website here.
The following is a reprint, courtesy of the St. Louis Business Journal Leadership Trust.
Standing out from the competition: 3 strategies to drive B2B growth in today’s market
In a crowded B2B marketplace, it can be challenging for businesses to capture audience attention and differentiate themselves from competitors. This is especially true in an economy where businesses are getting more strategic about their spend, often looking to consolidate vendors and focus budgets.
According to Melissa Lackey, owner, president and CEO of growth marketing firm Standing Partnership, it’s important for business leaders to recognize that the environment has changed, and their approach to landing B2B deals must change as well.
“There is a proliferation of content that’s happening right now,” said Lackey. “It’s very difficult to break through all the noise. You need to sharpen your messaging and hone your content and campaigns to be heard. You also need alignment between sales and marketing in terms of how you go to market.”
You should make sure that both marketing and sales teams are equipped to deliver your message as constructively as possible, explained Lackey. Both skill sets are necessary to help prospects move through the decision-making process and, ultimately, convert into clients.
“If you’re trying to land new B2B customers now, you need to be even better than you were a year ago,” said Ashlyn Brewer, senior vice president at Standing Partnership. “There are often more checks and balances, more buyers involved in decision making and more oversight of every investment. You can’t be running yesterday’s playbook.”
Here are three strategies that Lackey recommends for businesses looking to overcome challenges and stand out in the marketplace.
1. Sharpen your messaging.
With generative AI tools spinning up content quickly and myriad online publishing platforms, the barriers for bringing a message into market are lower than ever before, which means there is a lot of low-quality messaging cluttering the space.
It’s critical to create messaging that breaks through that noise, but B2B messaging often falls flat in one of two common ways:
1. It doesn’t say anything.
2. It says the same thing as everyone else.
Simply being loud isn’t enough to make your message resonate. You have to develop a message that catches your audience’s attention and speaks to their specific pain points. Too many brands are self-centered in their approach—”Since 1972, we have been the leading provider of X, Y and Z services”—and their prospects automatically tune them out.
Lead with empathy to show that you have a deep understanding of your buyer’s challenges, needs and goals. Bring together a cross-functional team, made up of product, marketing, sales and customer experience experts, to answer key questions and create a concise, compelling message.
2. Rethink content and campaigns.
To offer content and campaigns that are relevant and valuable to your audience, you need to leverage the best skill sets you have throughout your organization, not just on your marketing team. Rethink your approach, and test strategies to improve the in-depth expertise of your content:
- Bring thought leaders to the forefront. If you had a meeting with a top prospective buyer, you’d want to bring in your most knowledgeable expert to speak with them. Why wouldn’t you do the same when creating a white paper or a blog post for your audience? Pair your marketing team with subject-matter experts in different domains who can provide insights that go far beyond the surface level.
- Dive into the “how.” The “why” can be important in campaigns, but don’t stop there. Audiences are hungry for practical details and solutions. Show them how to gain knowledge and solve problems. For example, add real value by offering new market research and insights to satisfy your audience’s curiosity about industry benchmarks and trends.
- Have a strong point of view. Don’t be afraid to take a stand in your content. Be willing to put your flag in the ground, and say, “This works, and that doesn’t.” If you’re only telling people things that they already know and are universally accepted, there’s no reason for them to engage.
- Write for your audience, not about them. Create content with a specific persona in mind, but don’t fall into the trap of writing a college essay about them. Instead, imagine that you are writing a 1:1 email to your target persona and stay focused on the information that will be most useful for them.
3. Get better interlock between teams and partners.
All of your departments, from sales and marketing to product and customer service, should be delivering the same consistent messages. Prioritize alignment internally but also with external partners in select verticals that can help your business grow.
Start by ensuring that your sales and marketing teams are working together toward shared goals and KPIs. If marketing only works at the top of the funnel and sales only at the bottom of the funnel, the gap between the two can create a disjointed experience for the customer. While a cross-functional planning approach may take time, it’s worth the investment to get the results you want. You need the strengths of both teams throughout the entire funnel to win big deals.
In today’s competitive landscape, crafting effective messaging is an all-hands-on-deck effort. Breaking through the noise and landing new clients requires a combination of the right messaging strategies and strategically aligned teams.