The B2B tech sector is a great place to play in as a marketer right now. Why? Because it’s highly competitive and full of innovation. The competitive aspect of the space spurs creativity—you have to think outside the box to stand out amongst your competitors. And the innovative spirit surrounding the invention of new technology often encourages testing and trying new things out. For marketers looking to expand and strengthen their skill set, B2B tech is certainly alluring.
But at the end of the day, the nature of the market can’t be the only thing that keeps B2B tech fresh and exciting. Leaders also need to actively foster an environment that welcomes creativity and experimentation. If they don’t, they risk losing their amazing talent because a competitor out there will offer what that marketer needs to thrive.
So, as a marketing leader in B2B tech, are you doing what you can to keep your marketing team happy and your strategy fresh?
Here are 4 ways to prevent your efforts from growing stale:
1. Encourage new ideas within your team
Nowadays, to catch their audience’s eye, successful marketing teams need to be able to deliver engaging campaigns that overcome the noise from their competitors. If tech companies stick to the status quo, they risk appearing outdated or being overshadowed by their competition. Here’s how you can encourage new ideas and ship out captivating campaigns:
- Invest in driven and passionate people. These are the folks that will spend that much more time drafting a compelling campaign. They will be the ones to offer ideas and feedback that you may not have considered before. Their hunger to succeed in their role will keep your whole team excited and on its toes.
- Create a team environment that welcomes new ideas. You don’t have to go and execute every idea, but be open to hearing them. By encouraging your team to offer up ideas, you help them maintain a proactive mindset (instead of a reactive one) and support a collaborative working environment. For example, you could set aside time in your team meeting to have a mini brainstorming session in anticipation of a product launch.
- Make it a priority to stay on top of the latest marketing trends. Your team’s next big successful campaign might leverage a new tool. Or maybe, a trending digital tactic. It can really benefit your team to have each member take some time out of their month to read up on the latest trends within their field. For times like now when in-person conferences aren’t really a thing, it can be helpful to read articles or watch webinars to see what other marketing teams are up to.
TL;DR Don’t be a broken record by running the same campaign over and over again. Inspire your team to be proactive, collaborative, and invested.
2. Scope out your competitor’s content
This one sounds obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s always done! Competitive analysis shouldn’t be something only your product marketing colleagues focus on. To some extent, your whole team should be on the lookout for what other companies are doing to target your audience. Here are some things to focus on, outside of the product marketing research:
- Marketing channels competitors are using. Are they heavy social media users? Perhaps they play a lot in the virtual event space or partner with third-party vendors. Check to see where they are engaging with prospects. If your company isn’t there, consider running an experiment on that channel. Make sure your competitors aren’t hoarding an audience segment you could be reaching out to.
- Content competitors are creating. Do they write a lot of whitepapers or are they investing in more video content? When they share their content, check to see what type of engagement they are getting. If their videos are going viral, you might want to consider giving that type of content a try. Alternatively, if they are lacking a type of content, you could try and fill that void.
- Copy competitors are writing. What kind of tone are they going for and are people responding favorably? If so, you don’t have to go changing your whole messaging kit, but maybe run an experiment. If you notice their copy is changing, there’s probably a reason behind it and if your copy is similar in nature to their old copy, you might want to take a look at your own engagement metrics.
- Customer reviews competitors are receiving. There are websites out there that you can visit that compares companies and links to customer reviews. Check out those reviews and keep an eye out for keywords that you could use in future content. Perhaps your competitor is lacking in an area and a customer mentions this; you could create collateral that emphasizes your success in that area.
TL;DR Product marketers aren’t the only ones seeing competitor content. Check-in with your team, regardless of role, to see if they’ve noticed something worth acting on.
3. Leave room for experimentation where resources allow for it
Let’s assume you have an assortment of programs and campaigns that get you to the finish line every quarter; it makes sense to continue running them as-is. However, there may come a time when the demand outgrows your supply provided by these tried-and-true tactics and you’ll need to expand your strategy. In this case, it’d be nice to have other options on hand. But how do you know if it’s worth pursuing something new? With experimentation, of course! Here is how to incorporate experimentation into your overall strategy:
- Apply the 80/20 rule to your marketing efforts. You know what goals you have to hit, so dedicate 80% or so of your efforts on accomplishing those goals leveraging messaging, creativity, programs, and mediums you know work. And, based on the time, resources, and people available to you, carve out a portion of your efforts and dedicate them to running experiments. You never know, these experiments could work in your favor and have a lasting impact on your future strategy.
- Keep a record of your learnings somewhere, anywhere. If your team runs an experiment, track its progress, and summarize the takeaways. Even if the experiment isn’t deemed a ‘success,’ it’s not a failure because you still learned something and you can apply those learnings to future programs and campaigns. B2B tech is always moving and changing and turnover is inevitable, so having a record of experimental takeaways to refer to can really help your marketing team out in the long run.
- Be open to trying something again. Experiments don’t always have to be based on brand new ideas. If your team ran a program a few years back that didn’t have a huge impact, maybe it’s worth giving it a go again with the learnings you have on hand. Or maybe you’ve hired someone that has more experience with the program. Let your colleagues try their hand at projects they believe they can improve on.
TL;DR When planning out your quarters, halves, or years, leave room for marketing experiments. Keep a record of your results so that you can look back to see what’s worked and what hasn’t so your decisions can be better informed.
4. Humanize your brand
The product or service you’re offering might not be personal, but that doesn’t mean your brand can’t be. People build your products, believe in your mission, grow your business, and buy your offerings so why not make them a key element of your marketing strategy. More specifically, here’s how to make your tech campaigns more personable:
- Engage employees on social media. Your brand is more than the problems you solve and the solutions you sell. Let prospects and customers know that by actively supporting employees online in your brand’s name. Highlight accomplished employees on your company’s socials. Share photos from company events. Viewers will take note; if your brand is this supportive of employees, imagine how much more so of customers!
- Promote thought leaders within your company. Not everyone will want to do this and that’s okay. But if you find willing participants, help them showcase their talents and abilities. The role of a brand ambassador can be held by people other than the CEO. He or she or they could be the lead of your software engineering team or a VP of customer success.
- Interact with your customer base. This is something you’re already doing, no doubt about that. But are you going above and beyond the bare minimum? Comment on a customer’s social post or send them a simple direct mailer. You can even work with your sales and customer success teams to do more grassroots outreach to nurture those relationships and retain loyalty. Plus, you might get some free promo out of it!
TL;DR Don’t let the ‘tech’ part of B2B tech leave you blind to the fact that there are people hard at work behind your product or service. Use those people in your marketing efforts because they care about what they do and they can be your best cheerleaders.
Marketing leaders are crucial in keeping the B2B tech sector fresh.
If you already implement the tactics above, you are nurturing a team of skilled and passionate marketers who appreciate the work they are doing. And if you recognize a need for change and begin to incorporate these tactics, you’re improving your chances of holding on to great talent and shipping out amazing campaigns.
Individual contributors, budding marketers, and driven professionals implore you: please do not make marketing in the B2B tech sector boring. There’s still so much potential out there and we want to play a part in it!
For more tips and tricks regarding modern B2B marketing, check out ‘Under the Fluff: A Marketing Podcast’ wherever you listen to podcasts