I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
Being a B2B marketer is tough. When you’re not competing against the world’s biggest consumer brands for share of voice, you’re facing small budgets, limited resources and reluctance from within your organization to execute a seemingly risky strategy. What’s the solution? How can B2B companies stand a chance against their consumer counterparts? Enter digital media. It is one place in the marketing landscape where B2B companies can surpass those big B2C giants with even bigger budgets. Unfortunately, many B2B companies have failed to realize this and their marketing has fallen short of its full digital potential.
The term “digital media” itself can be a source of confusion. Some consider it anything displayed on a computer. For this article, we’ll use it to refer to nontraditional forms of marketing media – digital video, audio, motion, images and rich media content.
A lot of companies today still look at digital media as a part of creative services, applying the same management, production and use strategies applied to traditional marketing mediums. In reality, digital media (like social media) needs to be treated differently. When marketers evolve their tactics and view digital media as a unique marketing function, they start to realize the cross-functional power it can have, its ability to independently impact the brand and the bottom line, and its capacity to deliver B2C results for B2B marketers.
Consider these three ways your B2B marketing strategy can help you hit a B2C-level homerun:
Engage your audience. It doesn’t matter if you’re a B2B company or a B2C company, content creation is just half the battle. Thanks to the Internet, marketers don’t need big budgets or production value to create great content. What they do need is the right audience to engage with that content. Encouraging user-generated material is the first way to boost engagement. When the audience is helping to create and share content, they are connecting with your business in a more direct and personal way. Facilitate content discussions, reward exceptional submissions, and gauge feedback on the type of content that is being shared. Use those insights to better develop your own in-house content. Always remember that content creation goes hand-in-hand with engagement.
Develop a distribution strategy. Many companies don’t realize the full potential of their digital media content because they fail to share it effectively. So often we go to great lengths to create something great (or pay for someone to do this for us) and then move onto our next marketing project the moment it’s “finished.” Don’t forget to execute a distribution strategy that gets that hard-earned media in front of an audience. If marketers aren’t providing a place for people to consume new content, then their digital media content sits alone like an island at sea. For many, distribution will mean going to the audience – sending content to every corner of the Internet or sharing it on social media. But to bring the audience to you – an audience that actively seeks out new content from you – focus distribution efforts on building a strong community at your company site or social media channel.
Take Calculated Risks. A lot of B2B brands try to play it safe with their content. Most companies have brand guidelines, for instance, and I believe that you should stick to them. But when you move into a different medium like video and you try to apply the same strategies and rules that you’ve applied to print and radio content, you miss out on the opportunities to surpass your consumer-facing counterparts. One format we’re starting to think about more seriously is digital branding. How do we take motion and sound and use it to repurpose the way people think about our brand internally and externally? Honor the process-driven approach that is typical for B2B businesses, but realize the value in taking calculated risks when digital media is involved.
These three measures are all interconnected, and should not be pursued in isolation of one another. If you have good content, people will to want to see it. Experiment with new formats that can change internal and external perceptions about your company. Above all else, remember that digital media is an untapped resource and thanks to the digital age, B2B strategists can finally compete with and even beat the big consumer brands.
George Pfeiffer is the Creative Manager of Multimedia and Video at Newark element14, a global electronics distributor and online community of 230,000 engineers. Pfeiffer led the execution of a digital media strategy that put element14 ahead of most Fortune 100 corporate YouTube channels, both in subscribers and viewership. He has more than eight years of industry experience, and has been with Newark element14 for three years.