Are We Following the “New Best Practices” for B2B?

Before unveiling a new campaign to a client, our account team runs it through a “Gravity Check.” This is our internal review where we confirm that the campaign is on strategy and on message – and we evaluate the purpose and synergy of each component, and the metrics we’ll use to gauge success.

We were pretty enthusiastic about a recent campaign that leveraged a wealth of quality content – white papers, podcasts, case studies – and used both inbound and outbound channels to get in front of the right prospects.

Within our discussion, an art director asked if we all agreed that the campaign followed “best practices.” This question reminded me how much today’s marketing best practices differ from those of just a few years ago.

B2B Best PracticeWe now subscribe to inbound marketing techniques that acknowledge customers’ preference to control the buying process. Customers no longer want to be sold. They’re searching through Google, they’re gathering info through blogs, and they’re learning and sharing through social media. Our job is to help them find us and engage them at every juncture with strategic content that brings them closer to the sale. And we place the client’s website at the center of this activity.

A few of the “new best practices” employed in the campaign:

The Invitation to Engage. Our search and banner ads invited engagement with valuable, objective content, including a newly launched blog.

No Hard Sell. We avoided the “buy now” or “call us” call to action altogether, but did provide intuitive ways to reach us. We were patient, but present.

The Opt In. We offered valuable content in exchange for prospects’ name, email address, and one piece of vital data for segmentation. As the adage goes, “we had to give to get” – but we kept our order form short to avoid abandonment.

Thought Leadership. Our free content offer demonstrated industry insight and thought leadership, rather than traditional sales-oriented messages. And we carefully positioned our content to align with the known challenges of our prospects.

Brand Association. As always, we managed the brand throughout the campaign, but in this case we felt that the lack of hard-sell tactics enhanced brand credibility.

Lead Tracking. With our new leads, we used an outbound email regimen and limited social media to further engage prospects with more content – linking them back to the website to access it. Leads were incorporated into the client’s CRM system which is in sync with the campaign rollout.

Measurement. The ability to measure nearly every aspect of the campaign allowed message testing and ongoing campaign tweaks, as well as a true mapping of the pathway to conversion.

What a difference just a few short years can make on what we call “best practices.” Today in business-to-business marketing, we aspire to meet prospects on their terms – and sell them on the brand with thought leadership and respectful engagement.