Changing strategy for B2B

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Some marketers and PR professionals are apparently finding out the hard way that strategies need to change when it comes to turning B2B customers into brand advocates.

According to research by one US company, Text100, marketers are still unsure what content and channels are most effective when trying to convert B2B decision-makers into advocates for a brand.

Unsurprisingly, the study, which questioned 1,900 IT decision-makers from eight countries about their purchasing habits, found that the B2B decision-making audience has a very different profile to the B2C audience. Consequently, the methods and platforms PR professionals and marketers use to engage with them must change from those they use when communicating directly with the consumer.

As expected, trade blogs, industry forums and LinkedIn were cited as being of more relevance for the B2B market when decision-makers were looking for a new product or service than platforms such as Twitter, which are more successful in B2C campaigns.

The Text100 survey results showed that 34 per cent of decision-making professionals used a search engine when looking for more information on a supplier or brand – demonstrating the importance of a solid SEO campaign.

The decision-making journey also included a visit to the supplier website for 43 per cent of decision-makers; a scan online for endorsements and reviews for 27 per cent; and email newsletters for 28 per cent.

For brands trying to reach decision-makers in the B2B arena, this study provides a useful guide to where marketing efforts should be focused. The importance of brand ambassadors and advocates must not be underestimated, as decision-makers turn to reviews, forums and B2B social media sites as a key source of information.

What the research didn’t highlight was the importance of a well-targeted, methodical and consistent PR campaign alongside the rest of the marketing mix.

An effective PR strategy will deliver positive reviews from influencers, whether that’s in the form of news articles, social media or peer group comments, which will stand your brand in good stead when potential customers come to make their decisions.