It was 1995 when Newsweek had Bruce Willis on its cover in a t-shirt and jeans with a headline that read “Have We Become a Nation of Slobs?” We dressed pretty casually back then, but these days it’s a miracle if folks aren’t going to work in their pajamas on casual Fridays.
It’s a bit different in B2B marketing, especially for companies selling larger ticket items. When a B2B marketer shows the company’s “face” to prospects, that company needs to be wearing all the proper clothing and makeup.
This sounds like I’m talking about branding, but the brand is only one element of what prospective customers see when they are ready to make contact. Here are the other two critical foundations that must be in place before ANY other marketing is undertaken:
1. Build a Web site that, in addition to supporting the brand, is a strong sales tool.
Here are the basic items that must be included:
- Strong story that quickly and clearly communicates what the company offers, who the product is meant for and the main benefits the product(s) delivers
- Opportunities for visitors to interact with the site, such as white paper downloads (both free and those requiring registration), a strong opt-in invitation, possibly an ROI calculator, videos and other similar interactive devices.
- Multiple contact options, including a “Please contact me” form, phone number, email address and, yes, even a fax.
- Navigation that lets visitors quickly and easily find the information they need.
Many prospects who are directed to Web site landing pages — whether in response to SEM ads, emails, direct mail or other communications — may still choose to visit the company’s Web site before accepting an offer. So the Web site must “sell.”
2. Make sure inbound callers can easily reach a human being.
There are still prospects out there who prefer to pick up the phone and call a company for information. Providing an easy option for them to call and speak with a sales person or operator (who can direct the call) ensures that companies don’t miss easy opportunities for personal interaction with their prospects.
Without the proper makeup, B2B marketing efforts — regardless of the channel — cannot be as effective as they should be.