Many B2B leaders come to us with one big ask – “just get me leads.”
That makes sense. Afterall, we are in the business of growth marketing, which often translates to lead generation. However, we frequently find that a potential client simply isn’t ready for lead generation.
There are lots of reasons why a company may not be ready for this, but in this article (the first in a series) we lay out three areas you should address before launching your B2B lead generation program to ensure you get optimal results.
Problem #1: You don’t have a complete picture of your target audiences
You probably know your current and former customers pretty well, but what about your potential customers? You can’t simply rely on internal perspective, opinions and biases because you’ll miss a big part of the picture.
It’s important that you know your target audiences inside and out so you can understand how they truly buy, and then tailor your marketing activities to their needs. Remember, your audience doesn’t really care about what you do unless they recognize how you can help them solve a problem. Until you know exactly how they think about their problems and the place you occupy in their consideration set, you really can’t market to them effectively.
Another reason to get to know your target audience better is so you can tailor content to their needs. According to Instapage, lack of content relevancy results in 83% lower response rates in the average marketing campaign.
Do your research by conducting voice of the customer interviews. In these interviews you should talk to customers who love you, customers who left you and prospective customers who have never worked with you (and may not even know you).
These interviews are usually best left to a third party because they’re more likely to get unfiltered feedback, which they can then present to you in a cohesive way. With these interviews, you’ll learn more about your customers’ pain points, their buying behaviors and what kind of space your brand occupies in their consciousness.
Voice of the customer interviews can be leveraged to create really concise buyer personas. These personas can be high level or incredibly detailed depending on your needs, but any type of persona should create a clear picture of your buyers. In the B2B world, you’re rarely working with just one buyer, so it’s important you capture information about everyone involved in the decision-making process.
Problem #2: Your message positioning is missing the mark
If you don’t have a clear, compelling message that tells potential customers the value they’ll receive by doing business with your brand, they won’t bother to learn more about you. And if you don’t have a message that resonates, your lead generation programs won’t be very effective. Prospects likely won’t open your email, click on your ad, visit your website or complete any of the other activities that ultimately lead to a sales opportunity.
The problem we often see with message positioning is that companies don’t realize they have an issue. They think they have it well defined. But what if everyone in your company is sending out a different message or it isn’t clear what value your products or services provide to a buyer? Depending on which salesperson a prospect talks to or which email they receive, they could be getting a completely different – or even conflicting – message. That’s a problem because it leaves prospects confused and less likely to do business with you.
You need a messaging framework that clearly articulates your value proposition. Think of this framework as your communications source of truth. This framework helps create a clearly defined and unified voice across your company so no matter who a prospect or client talks to from your company or what they read, the story is clear. They’ll immediately know what you do and the unique value you bring to their situation.
Building your messaging framework starts with knowing your customers, your market and your internal stakeholders and then defining that space that only you can own. Hint: This is just one place where your voice of the customer work will be really valuable.
When you have a strong messaging framework, the next step is to make sure everyone in your organization understands and uses it. Your messaging framework should inform every communication – from website copy to brochures to sales presentations.
Problem #3: Your company’s brand awareness is low
It’s much harder to get leads when no one knows who you are. At the risk of dating ourselves, lead generation doesn’t work like the movie, “Field of Dreams” where “if you build it, they will come.” It’s never that easy.
In-person events used to play a big role in building brand awareness, but the pandemic has sidelined those activities for a while – and frankly we don’t’ see them returning to their former levels anytime soon. But even before the pandemic, smart marketers have been focusing on awareness building through digital experiences.
These digital experiences reach target audiences in a variety of ways – through social channels, organic search, advertising and more. And the experiences that make the biggest impact are the ones that connect with people on an emotional level.
One of the best ways to build awareness and ultimately loyalty is through a brand anthem video. Distributed through digital channels, video gets results – even in B2B. According to Hubspot, 87% of video marketers reported that video gives them a positive ROI. We go into great depth about how to build brand anthem campaigns in this article, but here we’ll share some reasons why we really like this tactic as a precursor to lead generation efforts.
The first reason we recommend a brand anthem video to build awareness is that this type of campaign tells the world who you are and what you stand for. That’s important – especially now – as people increasingly want to work with companies who are seen as authentic and transparent.
The second reason we like brand anthems is that they create an emotional connection between you and your potential clients. Marketers and salespeople used to think that the B2B buying decision was a purely rational, entirely facts-based transaction, but modern evidence has shown that’s just not true. A study by Google and the CEB Marketing Leadership Council found that “B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.”
The takeaway here is that authenticity and emotional connection matter – even in B2B – and a brand anthem campaign is a great way to use emotion and authenticity to build brand awareness.
Building a strong foundation before embarking on B2B lead generation efforts will better position your organization to achieve your growth goals. However, these are by no means the only issues you’ll need to address. In our next article, we’ll cover three more common pitfalls in B2B lead generation efforts.