In business-to-business (B2B) commerce, what makes a customer buy from a particular vendor or solutions provider? Is it the relationship with the sales executive? Is it a superior product? Is it competitive pricing? Most likely, all of the above have influence in the buying process.
However, building connections and trust with the customer through a demonstration of knowledge – especially knowledge centered around industry, core business processes and workflows and people and roles within the target customer organization – is a key driver of success. This is extremely important when needing to market effectively to any given number of verticals and sub-verticals. We see a constant balancing act between building marketing programs that are widespread across a variety of industries versus creating deep, tailored marketing and sales investments targeted at specific industries.
Let’s take a look at the four aspects needed for successful industry segment marketing.
Industry Knowledge – I’m beating my drum about this because it’s important. B2B marketers have to develop integrated programs and campaigns that showcase their company’s ability to understand and work in the industries they target. Marketers must then be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the industry and its direction, and draw a connection between the products/services/solutions they are selling and link it to the industry they are targeting.
How? They communicate to their targets with an understanding of growth or contraction in the market and why. They also demonstrate an understanding of regulatory requirements that are specific to the industry and their target customers. Finally, marketers must utilize the right industry nomenclature or terminology within the right context.
Core Business Processes & Workflows – There is common language in business (e.g. revenue and cost, sales and services.); however, in positioning your products/solutions/services that can help B2B customers achieve their business objectives, marketers have to understand their customer’s business model as well as processes and workflows. This means understanding how they actually run their business.
For example, healthcare organizations describe their day-to-day through workflows. Healthcare marketers must then effectively communicate all the various workflows (from admissions to point of care to patient discharge) and how they fit together to best serve the patient and core values of that particular healthcare organization. Business processes for commercial enterprises must also be clearly communicated. For example, selling to a manufacturer may require marketers to demonstrate knowledge of their operations. If the manufacturer uses their supply chain as a differentiator, marketers must be able to communicate the benefits of flawless inbound/outbound logistics, returns processing, supply chain networks and visibility and beyond.
People & Roles (Understand the Customer’s Customer) – Depending on industry focus, an organization will have industry specific jobs. These people have specific responsibilities and titles. Marketers have to know who these people are and then communicate to them based on their role and participation in the buying process of the solutions the marketer is helping to sell.
In looking at some unique titles we care for in supporting our clients’ marketing efforts, do you know these targets: VPE, CMIO, RM, DGM, CNO, CISO, CTO, CIO, CXO and Director of Talent? It’s OK if you don’t as some titles are specific to function and some are specific to an industry, such as healthcare, financial services and manufacturing.
True Customer Connection and Trust – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has done quite a bit of research on the technology buyers’ journey and what they look for in their vendors and solutions providers. Technology marketers surveyed by LinkedIn mentioned they actually go deep in terms of marketing to the uniqueness of the type of technology that is being purchased and properly engage with the information technology decision maker (ITDM). It is important to have credible research to understand customer preferences and meet them at the best possible time throughout the journey/lifetime.
Additionally, IDG also included peer-to-peer influence as a top three criteria in the selection and purchase of technology. Marketers have to accommodate the buyer’s peer group in their messaging and marketing tactics. Using reputable research findings, sharing relevant experiences from peers and marketing to the appropriate buyers based on the role are all about building a connection with a new or existing B2B customer and earning their trust throughout the buyer journey. Industry segment marketing is the way to make that happen.
What am I missing that you would suggest adding to this list when it comes to executing successful segment marketing programs? Leave me a comment below or share them with us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.
Author: Jeff Rappaport, CEO, Outlook Marketing Services
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