People often think that business-to-business (B2B) marketing is cut-and-dried while business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing is a fundamentally personal and emotional experience.
The truth is that we're emotional people regardless of whether we're buying at work or for ourselves, it's just that the emotions are different.
In its fantastic BuyerSphere research, Enquiro documented that B2B marketing is very emotional, but the emotion is to mitigate risk. Essentially, the research says that in business decisions, people perceive there is disproportionately more to lose by making the wrong decision vs. the potential gain of making the right decision. Thus, buyers look for signals that they're making the right choice.
There are some tried-and-true strategies for mitigating risk that can help you increase conversion rates and generate more B2B leads.
Ask for Less
Instead of trying to convert every visitor into a demo or a sales call, ask for less. Instead, try to establish any kind of relationship.
The least you can ask for is time, usually to read a blog post or article. From there everything you ask for has to have an increasing amount of value to the reader.
Want an email address, name, and phone number? You better be giving away a great e-book or webinar.
Want a credit card, even if it won't be charged? Your trial better be worth it.
The more you want, the more you have to offer. Create multiple ways into your brand all the way from free to paid customer.
Incentivize Them (a.k.a. Bribe Them)
Trying to get people to agree to a sales demo? Want to convince someone to share lots of detailed information about their buying stage and needs? Sometimes a little incentive can go a long way.
Incentives can take many forms:
- Gift cards - As close to cash as you can get
- Free gifts - Books, tchotchkes, anything of perceived value
Your incentive should be relative to the value of the person you're targeting and the known or estimated conversion rate from that stage of the pipeline (e.g., demo) to a closed sale.
Make It Fun
You don't have to just market whitepapers and webinars. In many cases you can attract a different audience or get a response from a hard-to-reach prospect if you plan something fun and social.
Here are a few easy-to-execute options:
- Dinners and lunches at a fantastic local restaurant with a notable speaker. Include an appetizer or cocktail before and after the event and make sure your reps are there and that you have a pre- and post-event plan to reach out.
- Parties built around existing conferences and events are an easy way to tap into a group of prospects already in one location at one time.
- Photo, video, and essay contests can be a great catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing and free PR.
Flaunt Your Credentials
When your brand is unfamiliar, you can draft off third-party credibility to relate your company to a trusted source.
Quotes and reviews from news sources are great tools for landing pages, home pages, and collateral. Generally, the first time someone interacts with your company is the time they're most likely to ask "Who is this company and why should I care?" When you can quickly relate your brand to better known sources, you engender immediate trust.
Similarly, you can leverage awards and other aspects of market leadership. If you're the largest company, the fastest growing company, or the most dominant in a sector, these can all be a part of the way you establish your authority.
Awards can often work particularly well for new companies with disruptive technology. They play into your newness and the fact that your solution is different than the market leaders.
Show Proof It Works
Claims are nice, praise is good, but results are best. The more you can point to the actual return-on-investment (ROI) that your customers can expect from your product, the better.
The easiest way to do this short of guaranteeing results is to solicit testimonials and case studies from your customers. Generally, the more specific and quantitative the results, the more convincing the proof.
In addition to simply asking customers, here are a few tricks to help shortcut the effort:
- Negotiate testimonials and case studies into contracts when you're pressed for price concessions. Of course, you have to give the client time to get the benefit of your product, but having a pipeline of guaranteed case studies makes it easier to keep pumping them out each quarter.
- Conduct a survey of all of your customers. Include satisfaction ratings and open-ended questions about the good and the bad. Then, follow up with the customer who had positive comments and ask if you can use the testimonials and if they'd like to participate in a case study interview.
- Incent them to provide reviews and testimonials. Target your best customers who are already fans and ask them to leave a review on third-party websites in exchange for some small compensation, like a $25 iTunes gift card.
Reduce Risk, Increase Conversions
Put yourself in your prospects' shoes and ask: what are they going to be worried about? Is it implementation? Price? A missing feature? Then ask yourself how you can assuage those fears and engage them without risk.
The more you can get prospects to like and trust you, the more leads you can get.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!