The Show Must Go On(line): How B2B Companies Can Cope NowadaysBy Andrea Villar | Mon, 09/28/2020 - 05:00
Today, more than ever, B2B marketers must redesign their strategies to cope with the health and economic crisis that the world is going through. Digital marketing should be at the center of every company’s strategy to achieve their brand positioning and lead generation goals. But, how can B2B companies best optimize value creation and deliver commercial results through digital marketing?
"The difference between how we sell a toothpaste, a plane or a highly specialized service like drilling machines is huge. With B2B, we promote very specialized products of a very technical and even innovative nature. Therefore, we cannot market them in the traditional way,” said Enrique Castillo, Marketing and Strategy Director at Mexico Business Communication, during the webinar “The Show Must Go On(line): Digital Marketing Tips for B2B Businesses,” hosted by MBC.
Castillo proposes to switch from the traditional 4Ps marketing mix, a famous concept that summarizes the 4 basic pillars of any marketing strategy: product, price, place and promotion, to the SAVE strategy. This method suggests to first offer a solution rather than a product, shaping strategies toward the needs products or services meet and not their features and functions. “You have to understand potential customers and what their needs and concerns are to offer solutions. Talking about a product in a technical way is not necessarily the best approach since there are so many quality standards in the market that the functions of a product are taken for granted,” he explained.
The SAVE method also seeks to develop an integrated cross-channel presence that considers the customers’ entire purchasing journey, instead of emphasizing individual purchasing locations and channels. "It is about deeply understanding our customers' buying cycle to be available and within reach when they need us." The main concern of B2B buyers, Castillo explained, is how to minimize the risk of the decision they are going to make as it involves large amounts of money and often long-term contracts. This is why it is essential to talk about the value of the product or service rather than the price. Last but not least, B2B companies should focus on education. This means giving relevant product information to customers throughout their purchasing process, rather than relying on advertising and personal selling that only covers the waterfront. "We have to be an ally and show ourselves as the experts we are in the industry and not just in our product," Castillo concluded.
Social Media a Powerful Resource
One tool that cannot be overlooked nowadays is social networks. For B2B companies, LinkedIn, a social network with more than 706 million users and more than 30 million companies represented, is crucial to promote new solutions. In Mexico, the platform has more than 15 million users. "This means there is a big market and whoever takes the opportunity is going to capitalize much faster," said Oscar Harada, a LinkedIn Expert who worked more than three years for the company, during the event. Among the advantages of this network, according to Harada, is the authenticity of user information. "It is difficult to find user profiles that lie about their position in a company. One of Linkedln's missions is to create an economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce and for companies to grow their business," he pointed out.
But how to take full advantage of this social network? One of the key points is personal branding. "We are going to position ourselves as leaders of our organization, as leaders of our industry, of what we like and what we are passionate about. It is important to differentiate your function in the company where you work and your personal interests. The latter help to build a profile," Harada explained. On the other hand, a common mistake made by people on LinkedIn, Harada said, is to add users and try to sell them a product through private messages. "That's like a call from the bank at 8 a.m. to offer a credit card," he noted. According to the expert, the best way to approach a potential customer is to interact with them to generate presence. Patience is key.
As for the company page, it is important for the business to only have one profile. "If we create too many company profiles according to country, product or department, the impact of the brand is lost," said Harada. Within the strategy of companies in this social network, five points stand out: publishing relevant content, having a clear call to action, using relevant data and trends in the industry, highlighting content to draw attention and training employees to encourage them to publish and to share their achievements and experiences.
E-Commerce Changing Consumer Habits
An undeniable fact during the pandemic is the change in consumer habits. Today, e-commerce platforms are the leading players in the digital world and traditional companies have a great opportunity to grow. "Before the pandemic, e-commerce penetration was much higher in countries like China and the US," said José Manuel Maceda, Advertising Country Head at Mercado Libre. However, this fact was a sign that e-commerce’s potential had to emerge at some point. In 2019, Mexico was the first country worldwide where retail e-commerce sales grew the most.
In 2020, due to lockdowns around the world, e-commerce penetration expanded further. "Not only did this translate to more people shopping online but every person who already did so spent more time on e-commerce platforms and was looking for more stuff,” Maceda explained. Beyond product purchases, said Maceda, consumer engagement must also be focused on financial services. "Clients’ commitment to the digital world is reflected in their daily lives and is a reality that is here to stay. During the pandemic, in just 10 weeks, Mercado Libre added 5 million new or recovered users. This means that in just three months of the health crisis, the growth of e-commerce has been equivalent to what we saw in the last 10 years.