Five surprisingly visual B2B marketing hacks for easing out of lockdown

By Tim Cumming and Helen Pain, 3 Feb 2021

If you have responsibility for generating leads - for sales, revenue, origination or investor recruitment - you're probably wondering where your buyers have gone. Who are they this year? If your Google Analytics is radiating down-ticks and flat lines at you, you may already have bitten your nails to the quick.

You're not alone. But you may be way out front if you're prepared to take action.

Today, right now, is the moment you can start to develop your advantage. What kind of messaging will work most effectively and through which channels?

Sculptures of cherubs gazing upwards

1. Show more than tell

If your buyers can't see it, it doesn't exist. So visualise. Channel your inner Damien Hirst or Ridley Scott. Or, hire someone who can.

The arguments for visual content are overwhelming. Retention from video is 89% better than text. Our brains are wired to process visuals 60,000 faster than text. And to prioritise visual processing 80% over everything else. That's a visual preference four times larger than text. Don't take our word for it, get inspired by visual thinkers and their stats like Killer Visual Strategies and Interaction Design.

Hacks

  • Visualise the guts out of your website: have a bias for infographics, photography, charts, tools and video. You'll need designers, video people, or charting experts - if you have them in-house, great. If not, get some good affordable people in. One new visual asset on each key page is a good starting point.
  • Build in waves: every month, return to your key pages, and build more visual content there - your prospects will better see and better retain what you're offering.
Powerdrill closeup

2. Reveal more than you used to

On average (so caution advised here), nearly sixty percent of pre-pandemic B2B buying decisions were formed impersonally online before influencers or decision makers ever connected with suppliers. That number can only have grown through the pandemic.

How your particular number stacks up against that is not necessarily the same as average, but the trend is almost certainly the same - upwards. Meaning your prospects' buying decisions are now surprisingly more influenceable than ever online. Marketing has become more important than sales. Zoiks. Better shape up.

Hacks

  • Open up: Address visitors and engagers more truthfully and fully. That's to say be more open.
  • The big 4: Reveal processes, advantages, differences - and most importantly people - more than ever before, on your website and in social media.
  • Do this with intent: This may feel daunting or scary, but that's where clients are headed. You'd be risking your future not to.
Beautiful red flowers

3. B2B buying is twice as emotional as consumer buying

Surprised? Very few marketers believe that B2B buying is twice as emotional as B2C, until they consider confidence, optimism, empathy, surprise, loyalty and trust. These are business emotions.

In 2013, Google, Gartner and Motista conducted a survey of 3,000 B2B buyers that proved this, and more. They discovered that a whopping half of the decision is emotional. And in 2020, Gartner went on to prove the collapse in the influence of selling, and the rise of difficulty in buying, due to the paucity of helpful (i.e. open) information.

We attribute this to the competitor-cloaking effect. Simply hiding relevant buyer information, because we don't want our competitors to steal it. But that train has already left the station. Buyers favour B2B services who reveal and reassure.

Hacks

  • Embrace emotions: edit all your web and social content so it embraces several of the big 6 emotions above.
  • Reword: Using your new emotions list, reword your web and social copy (don't forget those profiles, too)
  • Reshoot: Do the same with your video, your infographics, your website tools, even your photography.
  • For example: "We've invested £6bn of our clients' capital alongside our own for 9 years, returning £22b in shareholder value and divestment" might be better worded as "For 9 years, we've invested not just capital in our clients, but in their goals and beliefs too, and backed that with over £38m of our own money to make their world - and yours, a better place. £21bn better." More revealing, empathetic and optimistic. Which would you prefer to read as a buyer?
Row of shirts

4. Your market hasn't just changed, it's had trauma, surgery and therapy

Let's triage and heal. Call time on the dead leads. Heal the wounded with a refreshed proposition, suited to their revised needs.

And needs are hugely more important now - Gartner showed that buyers now have greater faith in their own judgements even in complex sales - than they have in your promises. No, it's not scary. It's just different.

For prospects that have grown or pivoted in some sizable way, you can map out traits and new pain points which will help you to adapt your offering to them. And a great way to start here is the new top 100 client questions.

Ask your sales team to map out the questions they've heard most frequently from enquirers. These topics are clearly of interest to your audience and even if they're once in a blue moon, they'll be very much on the minds of clients and frequently on the fingertips of their searches. Most firms can do this list in an intensive hour. Just cull the list and weed out repetitions.

Hacks

  • Answer the following questions:
  • Are you a good writer? If so, you'll find it easy to put a thousand words together to respond in detail to each question. If you're not a writer, video is a better way to reach audiences, because it doesn't just cover the topic, it gives you a chance to reveal who you are, how approachable and experts you truly are. The kinds of people that you actually are
  • Where are your operational and back-office people? With video, clients can finally see them, giving them a chance to shine. It also offers you a chance to demonstrate the calibre of people working everywhere in the firm. That's emotive, empathetic, courageous, authentic, revealing, all at once. Many ticks.
  • Does your project feel too ambitious? Set your hearts on producing the top 20 questions that clients ask and giving 20 one minute answers. Film them with your chosen video supplier or even your phone-cam if rough and ready is the look that's appropriate for your positioning and brand.
Underground well lit railway tunnel

5. Routes to market have transformed too

Have a look at your marketing channels - they've drastically changed. Many are muzzled by the pandemic because offices are empty, and commuting and gathering are down. Gone are trade-shows, telesales, direct mail, networking, and trade awards.

Search marketing agencies have become more costly due to elevated pandemic demand. Indeed, many web firms have followed suit, so new websites cost more during this era.

That leaves social media, your website content, Zoom and email prospecting. These channels you have full control over - you can increase frequency, change message, offer new things through all of them without care or concern for cost.

Hacks

  • Create content for the channels that are working. Video is ideal here - it suits all four working channels mentioned above:
  • Observation: A surprisingly rich area for content development. Film your team at work - this might not look apparent and easy during a lockdown, but it's incredibly easy to set up a zoom call, or even a phone call to a colleague
  • Ask them the beautiful question - what are you doing right now? And why? These kinds of questions, while editorial or journalistic in nature, often yield rich answers clients will enjoy seeing. For example, asking Mary what was the most useful email she's read in the last two days. It might well be critical to some aspects of her operational job where productivity or efficacy are revealed in an everyday way. And it's these nuggets which can bring a vivid professionalism to the overall story that you reveal to buyers and prospects.
Composite of rock and overlaid plus signs

Conclusion

We've covered five ways to change your marketing, with an impact on sales. That's five ways to improve and of course five areas to track the impact:

  • Show more than tell: choose an agency that can provide effective visual content
  • Reveal more: choose an agency that allows you to open up. To sing.
  • Embrace emotion: think of empathy as well as reveal when you define your project
  • Heal and adapt: find the answers to enquirer questions
  • Transform: choose an agency that capitalises on the change to marketing channels.
  • Do track, otherwise you'll never know what worked best!
  • Selection: make an informed choice from the pros and cons listed

Remember the good you do, and have it tell your story to your audiences.

So, now you've acquired five new visual hacks - you've moved towards your goal. Time for a chat about process?

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