Post-Pandemic Sales and Marketing Plan for Companies with niche offerings in emerging areas like Blockchain, AI, IoT, etc.

Post-Pandemic Sales and Marketing Plan

COVID has changed everything – especially the way B2B sales happen. 

For small and mid-sized technology companies, it has become harder to become visible to a highly specific target audience. 

  • Face-to-face meetings with the exact stakeholders are not possible 
  • It is difficult to establish the utility, relevance, and importance of your product/ service 
  • It is also tough to demonstrate to decision-makers the true value of the solutions offered. 

You know there is business out there, but you are missing those opportunities.

What’s the solution? 

Leverage the power of content and social media marketing.  

Content:

Create regular content that demonstrates your expertise in the niche area. It will help you approach people who are looking for similar services. Content about tech trends and industry news with your unique viewpoints can amplify your experience and knowledge in the field. Create highly focused landing pages for specific industry verticals or functional areas will help channel your content towards the correct clientele. Create case studies and testimonials to demonstrate your expertise and impact 

Social Media:

Use social media channels like LinkedIn and Twitter to be seen as a trusted source of information in your niche. Share useful news and the latest industry updates. 

Personal Brand of your CXO:

Leverage your CXOs’ social channels to amplify the messaging of the company through authoritative, strong opinions or even contrarian stands.

The likely impact of your content and social media marketing efforts –

You can expect several benefits through these efforts, such as – 

  • Increased visibility in the niche can help you occupy the high ground 
  • Your target audience will become more aware of potential use cases and your ability to address those.
  • You will be able to create greater confidence in the minds of your prospects about your expertise which could lead to quicker conversions and establish a good reputation.

How COVID has changed the Sales and Marketing for the Partners of Oracle, ServiceNow, SAP, IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Atlassian

B2B Sales

Most large events were canceled in 2020. Conferences like Knowledge of ServiceNow, Oracle OpenWorld, Atlassian Summit, and others moved to the virtual mode. 

If you are a partner of ServiceNow, Oracle, Microsoft, Atlassian, IBM, SAP, or Google, this has posed a big threat. 

  • Your single largest source of new prospects has become highly ineffective.
  • The association of you, as a partner, with the Principal companies is not as visible. 
  • Your buyers don’t have any obvious means to know about the latest solutions by you or your offerings. 

That said, Principal companies are also actively searching for co-marketing opportunities with partners in the form of speakers for webinars, providing funds for marketing, promoting partner content, etc. 

Your aim is now to make yourself visible through such activities and establish a clear connection to the Principal company.

It’s time to up your marketing game – 

We recommend that you take a 3-pronged approach to your online marketing- 

Content:

Demonstrate your expertise through high-quality, thought leadership content like whitepapers or eBooks. These will help you inform potential clients about your services and packages in a concise manner, while also helping amplify your brand.

Creating content that strongly associates you with the Principal like blogs on prominent industry use cases, views of latest product updates, etc. will help you stay in the eye of your target audience. 

Social Media:

Use social media to build brand awareness, generate new leads, and build customer relationships. Connect yourself with the Principal to generate credibility in the market and establish you as a service provider. Regular threads from product Principal content in your social media updates will also help you stay relevant and in the spotlight. 

Personal Brand of your CXO:

The network and visibility of your CXOs can also be leveraged to offer strategic support to the direction taken by the product Principal.

The likely impact of your marketing efforts –

You can expect several benefits through these efforts.

  • Benefit from the strength and the visibility of Principal’s brand while establishing a close association with it. 
  • The leads that the product Principal will send your way will in turn highlight your expertise and showcase you as a viable option in your industry.
  • As CXOs build and cement their relationship with the Principal, demonstrating their expertise and thought leadership, invites for speaking engagements will come their way. These opportunities are a good chance to reach the Principal’s existing client base and spread awareness about your own services.

Are you ready to make the most of 2021?

Content Marketing Funnel – What You Need to Know

Content Marketing Funnel

Content marketing is essential.

  • 70% of people would rather get information about a company or learn something from an article or blog post rather than from a traditional advertisement. (Source)
  • 71% of a B2B buyers review a blog during their buying journey. (Source)
  • 95% of buyers prefer working with a vendor who provides them with sufficient information to help them navigate each stage of the buying process.
  • (Source)
  • Companies with blogs see 67% more leads every month than those which do not have blogs (Source)

But B2B companies are often have several questions about content marketing

  1. What type of content should we create?
  2. How often should we create blogs?
  3. Is social media content essential? 
  4. What can we expect as the outcome?
  5. Who should we create the content for?

It is important to remember B2B companies need to leverage the power of content marketing to support their buyers through all the stages of their buying cycle. For each stage, the type of content different. Here is how your content marketing funnel can look like 

Content Marketing Funnel for B2B technology companies

If you are looking for assistance to create any and all these forms of content – let’s connect. Our team of content specialists can create extremely high-quality content with minimal or no inputs from you! 

Getting Started – B2B Marketing Strategies for Technology Companies In 2021

B2B Marketing Strategies for Technology Companies

In our previous blog, we discussed some actionable trends that mid-sized technology companies could implement in 2021.

The good part about these trends is that companies don’t have to invest heavily in marketing. All that’s required is the right strategy, the right tools, and the right resources to implement it.

In this blog, we will go a step ahead and share some easy-to-implement strategies that technology companies can use to grow their business. 

Getting Started with B2B Marketing Strategies

Content Marketing 

B2B buyers on average read 13 pieces of content before making a purchase decision. Hence, technology companies need to create high-value content that can address their questions. There should be some form of content to guide the customer through the complete buyer’s journey. The tone of the content should appear more educational and less like a sales pitch. Some of the common forms of content include – website content, blogs, eBooks, and whitepapers. 

How to get started?

  • Before developing the content, determine its objective. Is it to create awareness, is it to explain the value proposition of the content, is it to onboard new customers? 
  • Choose a topic. The topic could be an opinion piece on the industry trends or a how-to-article or an article that addresses the common challenges faced by the customer. Ensure that the content is written for humans and not the search engines. Do in-depth research and back the content with examples, quotes, statistics, etc. Provide backlinks to the source wherever necessary. There are debates on the average length of a content piece. For example, some will say that the average word count of a blog should be 2000 words; some will argue that it should be up to 500-600 words. We would recommend not obsessing about the word count and instead focusing on generating informative and easy to grasp.
  • Once the content is developed, do a basic grammar and spell check to avoid glaring errors. Finally, upload and share the content everywhere for people to see.

Social Selling 

According to a report, 93% of companies use Twitter, and 91% use LinkedIn to create brand awareness, generate leads, engage with customers, and do promotions. It is tempting to create accounts on different channels such as Instagram, Facebook, or even TikTok. However, you should select the social channel where your target audience is and not necessarily the channel with the most users. Based on our experience, for B2B technology companies, LinkedIn and Twitter seem to be the most relevant platforms.

How to get started?

  • Create easy-to-remember or easy-to-find accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn. Fill in all the company details, such as company location, offerings, company size, etc. Remember to add the company website’s link in the bio to garner traffic. Twitter, for example, drives third-most referral traffic. 
  • Post frequently and ask employees to share them to increase the impressions. The posts could be a link to a blog, eBook, a landing page, or link to an article of an external publication. It could also be other updates – such as the latest wins of the company, a client testimonial, or an important update relevant to the industry. Use relevant hashtags to get noticed. Creating a social media calendar would help the social media team to streamline the process.
  • Respond to users who take efforts to engage with the content, so they feel encouraged to engage more. Have conversations with the audience, so they feel heard.
  • Look for positive and negative feedback and address customer queries as early as possible. Set SLAs for the team, so they respond to the queries and messages within a stipulated time. 
  • Measure the efforts to understand what kind of content appeals the most to the target audience. That will help in developing future content.

Thought Leadership / Educational Webinars

The one thing that became a buzzword in 2020 was Webinar. A webinar is the web version of seminars and live shows. Due to the social distancing norms and the travel bans imposed worldwide, technology companies started conducting webinars to create brand awareness, educate prospects, and generate leads. However, webinars were being used as a part of content marketing strategy even before the pandemic. 73% of B2B marketers admitted that the webinar was the best way to gain high-quality leads.

How to get started?

  • Choose a topic that would interest the prospect and align with the company’s offerings. Get an expert speaker on board.
  • Develop the content for the webinar. Ensure that it is relevant to the prospect and does not look like a sales pitch.
  • Decide on the date, time, the platform that will be used to host the webinar. Choose a day and time when most people have lesser work commitments and can attend the webinar.
  • Promote the webinar on social media and website. Create a landing page so people can sign up for it easily.
  • Create an email workflow, such as sending a confirmation email after sign up, a reminder email before the webinar begins, and a thank you email with contact details and the recording after it runs.
  • Do a dry run with the team a day before the webinar to ensure that the logistics are in place.
  • Follow-up with the leads after the webinar.

Case Studies

B2B customers want to know if the company has the expertise and knowledge before engaging with them. Case studies offer validation and evidence to the customers. They act as social proof for the company.

How to get started?

  • Seek approval from existing or former customers if they would be comfortable with their case study published on the website and social media channels. Some customers may prefer their names to be masked. 
  • Determine the format of the case study. It could be a video testimonial from the customer or a short interview with them or a case study in text format. 
  • Follow the problem-solution-results format for the case study. Be specific about the solutions offered and add the right numbers in the results. Do not exaggerate, make tall claims, or add any content that could mislead a potential customer. Make the case study clear and concise, so the impact is clear to the prospects.
  • Get it reviewed by the customer if required, and publish it on the website and social media. It can also be used in email marketing. 

Landing Pages 

While websites offer general information about the overall company, a landing page is more product-focused or industry-specific. Its purpose is to drive conversions. So, the content has to appear different from -website content. 

How to get started?

  • Determine the purpose of the landing page. Is it to drive conversions or ask the prospect to download a whitepaper or sign up for a webinar? Write the content accordingly.
  • Make the content as concise and clear as possible. It should lead the prospect to take action. Ensure that they don’t have to search for the click on the call-to-action. It should be visible on the page. The navigation, the content, and the design of the landing page must be simple and effective enough to drive conversions.
  • If the audience is different, create different landing pages for different segments to add value. Segment them, so the right email is sent to the right audience.
  • If the landing page is being used for paid ads, ensure that it aligns with the landing page’s message.
  • Add social proof such as reviews and testimonials to add value to the page.
  • Do A/B testing to know which one works better.

Personal Branding of the CXOs

Gone are those days when CXOs were elusive and almost unreachable. Today’s CXOs are more social and approachable. They are active on Twitter and LinkedIn and even respond to people’s comments. Having a personal brand helps CXOs establish themselves as an authority in their industry and build trust among prospective customers. They can also leverage their network to stay connected with ex-customers, the existing ones, and the prospects. 

How to get started?

  • Create a profile on Twitter and/or LinkedIn. Ensure that the profile is completely updated with a bio, recent photograph, professional and education experience, and other necessary details.
  • Post regularly. The posts could be important news related to the company or a personal opinion on the trends that dominate the industry, or links to the blogs or other company content. 
  • Write a guest blog or guest article for third-party websites related to the industry to get established as a thought leader. 
  • Network with peers and engage with prospects to establish a relationship. Ensure that the opinions are aligned with the values of the company. 

The sales cycle of B2B marketing is longer than B2C. A single deal could take as much as 9 months to get closed. An average of 7 people is involved in making buying decisions. It can be particularly difficult for technology companies as they have no tangible evidence of their offerings. So, companies should not expect overnight or quick results from B2B marketing. Patience, consistent marketing efforts, and continuous measurement of its effectiveness are necessary. Companies must use a combination of the above strategies and wait for some months to see results. However, merely implementing all the above strategies without a concrete plan will be a futile exercise. Here are the next steps to get a positive outcome:

  • Set goals – it could be creating awareness or converting leads into customers. Set SMART goals, i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, so it’s easy to implement them.
  • Set the budget and seek permission from the management– This will help plan the strategies accordingly. 
  • Understand the customers – Understand their business challenge, decision-making process, the solution they seek, and accordingly plan the strategy. Be where the customer is! 
  • Test and measure the outcome – Test different forms of content and different channels. Measure the results and decide what works best for the business.
  • Align sales with marketing – Working in collaboration will help in closing deals faster. 

Need help in planning and implementing the B2B strategy for 2021? We can help.

Actionable B2B Marketing Trends 2021 for Mid-sized Technology Companies

B2B Marketing Trends 2021

2020 may have been a rough year for all of us, but technology companies did a great job at continuing the business even through the peak of the pandemic. 

2020 was the year when technology companies looked beyond networking at events or getting recommendations from someone and embraced B2B marketing willingly. According to a LinkedIn report, 76% of marketers were compelled to change their key objectives to align with the current situation. 

As an agency that has supported B2B-focused mid-sized technology companies in establishing themselves as thought leaders of their industry for the last ten years, we believe that now is the right time to invest time and efforts into B2B marketing.

When it comes to B2B marketing, let’s take a look at some of the unique challenges of mid-sized technology companies, especially those which are just starting with their marketing efforts.

  • Don’t have big budgets for ads: It is natural to do paid ads to get more leads. While it might work for B2C, it might not necessarily work well for B2B companies. A mid-sized company may have a limited budget, while a single ad campaign could cost the company $1000-$2000 per month for ads. The returns are low too, with the CTR being as low as 3.10%. Even those clicks may not necessarily convert as the sales cycle in B2B is longer than B2C. That apart, unless the company has first established a strong online presence, spending on ads would not lead to any benefits. Hence, they need to think of alternatives to get more leads.
  • Creating multiple content formats is not always possible: It is tempting to create various content formats to gain diversified traffic. However, companies must remember creating multiple formats such as videos and podcasts can be time-consuming, expensive, and require people with specific skillsets. Companies that are just starting with their online marketing efforts need to prioritize where they want to spend their energies.  
  • They need focused marketing efforts: Mid-sized companies need to start with specific marketing goals, so that they can focus their marketing efforts on achieving them instead of trying everything and seeing no results in the end.
  • Marketing needs to support sales efforts: Marketing and sales can no longer work in silos – especially for B2B companies. They have to help each other to drive business and revenue growth. 57% of companies believe that collaboration between marketing and sales will advance marketing’s contribution to sales success and generate more ROI. 
  • CXO’s personal network plays a critical role: A CXO of a mid-sized technology company would have a strong network with other C-level executives of other companies. They can tap on this gold mine by posting their views and news on social media and interacting with other peers actively. Building a personal brand is imperative for creating a positive impact.
  • Marketing needs to be a self-running effort: With limited bandwidth, time, and budget, mid-sized technology companies may face challenges in running campaigns and achieving marketing goals. They need to, therefore, focus on creating a self-sustainable marketing plan that can run with minimal effort and resources. 

Now that we have set the ground rules, let’s look at the actionable trends that mid-sized technology companies can implement easily.

B2B Marketing Trends in 2021 For Mid-sized Technology Companies

High-value content

80% of decision-makers prefer to get information from an article instead of an ad. 

Hence, technology companies must focus on developing high-value content such as whitepapers, eBooks, and blogs. Cover topics such as the latest trends and industry news with unique take from experts, solution-specific content that addresses the company’s pain points, principal content such as prominent use cases or latest product updates, etc.  Whitepapers are also a great way to launch email campaigns. 

While creating high-value, evidence-based, and research-backed content is important, it is also equally important to create content regularly. Developing a content calendar and planning content distribution is the best way to ensure that content is published periodically. Publishing regularly will help the company to create brand awareness and also increase organic traffic to the website over a period. Ensure that there is content available at every stage of the customer journey such as attraction, consideration, and conversion, so the decision-makers are guided through the process.

Robust social media presence

According to the Harvard Business Review, 90% of C-level executives ignore cold outreach. So, those cold sales calls and emails will no longer help in generating leads. 

Instead, marketers and the sales team must focus on social selling. 84% of C-level and VP-level customers use social media to make purchase decisions. Posting on social media regularly will help technology companies to create brand awareness, network with prospects in an organic manner, and humanize the brand. Some types of posts that work well on social media include – posts from C-level executives, trends and challenges related to the industry or target customers, regular product principal content updates, new releases or wins, etc. 

Plan your blogging and social media posts using a social media calendar and regular schedule to strengthen its presence. Monitor its outcome regularly to know what works and what doesn’t and use those insights to create a solid social media strategy.

Webinars or live events on social media

Typically, technology companies leverage trade shows and industry conferences to network and get leads for their company. However, last year, it took a beating with most trade shows, exhibitions, and conferences getting canceled due to the pandemic. 

Companies can now conduct webinars and live events on social media to create awareness of their offering and generate leads. 46.5% of companies confirmed an increase in webinar hosting during the pandemic. Webinars are cost-effective, remove geographical barriers, and it’s easy to get the best speakers to speak to prospects across the world. Most importantly, webinars are generally attended by prospects who are in the consideration stage. So, the chances of conversions are high after the webinar is completed. 

Focus on personal branding

We cannot stress enough about the importance of personal branding. 

82% of people are more likely to trust a company whose leadership is active on social media. 

Encourage the C-level executives to actively post on social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn. It will not just give a face to the company, but it will also help gain the attention of customers and investors. The best part is the leaders do not have to do anything elaborate to build their personal brand. Even small efforts such as sharing a personal opinion on the trends taking place in the industry, sharing personal or professional anecdotes and lessons learned from it, and writing an authoritative piece of article can help the leader establish their reputation as a thought leader.

Read more about personal branding in our previous blog here 

Build credibility with social proof

According to Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer Survey, 70% of respondents said that trust is more important for them when dealing with brands. To gain the trust of prospects, technology companies will have to show social proof to back themselves as experts in the industry. These social proofs could be in the form of client testimonials, case studies, or industry-recognized certifications. These will enable companies to demonstrate their expertise and impact on prospects. Ensure that the feedback and ratings are collected from customers regularly and publish them on the website and social media to show value and build trust. 

2021 – The Road Ahead 

There are so many things that companies can do to build their brand and get more leads. But with limited time, bandwidth, and budget, mid-sized technology companies must focus on getting their foundation strategy right before experimenting with other trending tactics. We would recommend beginning with these three actionable tactics:

  • Write high-value content regularly
  • Establish a strong presence on social media
  • Empower the C-level executives to share their opinion on social media and leverage their network

We have created a post-pandemic marketing plan – it outlines a rescue recipe for all kinds of mid-sized technology companies. Read it here

These tactics will take time to show results. But our experience of working with some of the best mid-sized technology companies has demonstrated that with consistency and quality content, companies can even supersede their goals and build a long-term relationship with their customers at a fraction of costs and efforts.