By Gem Latimer | August 31 2018
Your business operations are a flywheel, illustrating why it’s more important than ever that you consider how your customers interact with your company at every stage of their journey.
The flywheel is made up of three key areas: marketing, sales, and service. And at the centre of these processes sit your customers.
After all, they are who will ultimately bring you revenue and should therefore be central to all efforts, regardless of department so they have a consistent experience throughout their customer lifecycle.
The buyer is now more in control than ever, and the flywheel model emphasises that we all need to focus more on the person our inbound marketing strategy is trying to start a conversation with — rather than only the business they’re representing.
Despite the chronicled differences between the two, the flywheel highlights that having a B2C background like I do has its advantages when it comes to B2B. In fact, applying some of the thoughts and processes of marketing to consumers in a B2B environment can deliver some impressive results.
The flywheel encourages us to go back to the basics — and knowing how to talk to people the right way has never been more crucial.
A shift in work trends is fuelling a need to understand people— not just the businesses they work for.
Although you are marketing to businesses, you will always be talking to someone. Focus less on the product or service you’re trying to market and hone in on who you’re talking to. The clear difference from B2C is that you’re far more likely to have to convince multiple people with varying motivations in that business.
Use customer personas to break up these variations and get to grips with their pain points, objections, and aims. That way, you can tailor communications to each of them as individuals. By employing a customer-centric strategy and using smart content that automatically personalises based on what you know about the contact, you’re instantly increasing your chances of success.
Many companies now have culture codes that allow flexible working, and the eruption of technology has led to BYOD and acceptance of using social media at work, with LinkedIn actually acting as a staple for outreach and networking in many roles. Personal life is now even more connected to the realms of the professional, and the line between the two is becoming increasingly blurred.
Understanding your decision maker and their influencers and acknowledging that they have a life outside of work is core to gaining trust and personalising communications. With so much information available to them online, it’s up to you to make your own contribution noteworthy and valuable.
Simplicity is king in B2C; it only takes one look at Apple — who have carved an empire from just that — to see this in action. So why when it comes to B2B do we continue to overcomplicate, replacing the reason a product exists with its technical specifications?
Whether you’re writing website copy or an article, promoting a webinar or creating a video, make sure you’re keeping it simple and straightforward by speaking directly to your target persona. Concentrate on the things that keep them awake at night, stop them from hitting their KPIs, or prevent them from securing that next promotion.
Just because you believe your product is the best does not mean that you don’t need to demonstrate why. Often I come across clients who work in a particularly technical industry and are keen to explain the technicalities that make them so good, whilst overlooking that their end user may have no desire to know that — they just want it to solve their problem.
Technical language is often a necessity for explaining a product, but if you’re creating an awareness stage article, take a step back and consider whether you’re actually aiding the reader with their problem, or just throwing out some jargon in the hope it resonates with someone.
Take a deeper look at the buyer's journey and consider the actions of the buyer at each stage. At the awareness stage, you need to frame the reader's problem, opening up that shared frame of reference and building trust that you can understand their pain points. Next, you need to shift the problem so they can see a way forward. Technical jargon is likely to turn someone off and make the content harder to digest. It's far better to leave the technicalities to decision stage content and stick to your customer-centric strategy.
For B2B success, the power of storytelling is invaluable. It’s important to take your reader on a journey from the moment they arrive at your homepage until they decide to reach out for help.
Consider offering a bonus alongside your core content. Is there a checklist you can offer as a quick download which will help the reader implement the ideas you've raised? If it's a logical next step in the story you're telling, it's far more likely to convert.
Root your content in reality. Someone is far more likely to read your 1,000 words on wireless if it is rooted in something tangible and interesting, for example a real life case study of a shopping centre. They used the provision of Wi-Fi as a way to gain insight into their demographic, and also to send out offers directly to shoppers’ mobile devices? Great, how can I do that?
The flywheel demonstrates how crucial a consistent approach across marketing, sales, and ongoing service is, and customers spreading positive word of mouth is what prompts the cycle to start again.
Thinking about customer service instantly brings to mind a B2C atmosphere, however it's also the number one way you can inject a human approach into your B2B marketing: the customer is now more empowered than ever and as a result has raised expectations. You should be exceeding these at every point in the buyer’s journey and beyond.
Customer service should be at the centre of every business, and a customer-centric strategy should underpin all elements — not simply acting as an aid to the buying process or a way to patch things up when they go wrong — to encourage positive word of mouth.
Not only will your happy customers continue working with you and refer you to others, but those who didn’t end up buying but found your content informative and helpful will remember you when an opportunity to recommend you does arise.
Brand loyalty is extremely important in B2B, largely due to a relationship being struck up through the longer sales cycle. We can all learn a lesson or two about brand loyalty from the B2C market, where high levels of competition prompt brands to induce emotional responses and affiliations so that they become the ‘go to’ in times of need. Avoiding negative word of mouth across social media is also essential. Both sectors are ultimately speaking to people, and therefore a customer-centric strategy is crucial to success.
The flywheel emphasises that by positioning the buyer at the centre of your business, you’re bound to not only increase your conversion rates with qualified leads, but also hugely improve your chance of referrals.
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Topics: Inbound Marketing
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