As a B2B marketer, there is an urge to automate everything—social media, content marketing, lead nurturing, etc. There is an abundance of automation tools available and marketing automation can serve as a time saving tool to build brand awareness and nurture sales leads. I am asking you to control this urge! It is time to implement a more “hands on” marketing approach and stop deterring clients with tired, over-done automated marketing tactics.
Everything is Automated Now: Why not be Different?
As a B2B client myself, I can tell the difference between real person and automated marketing. Clients aren’t dumb and have grown tired of not having an authentic conversation with a company trying to market to them. With email communication, I can tell when a sales rep is really listening and reaching out to me and when it’s a “one size fits all” follow up email.
Small to medium size B2B firms are better off manually nurturing leads. Because most of your competition has gone to automation, you will stand out from the crowd and have an authentic conversation with a prospect. This will be a “breath of fresh air” to a prospect and this manual nurturing of leads will turn into a true competitive advantage.
B2B Marketing: Fewer Leads
Large companies with huge target markets need marketing automation. There are just too many leads to nurture and most of them will never buy. Marketing automation helps sales reps identify the most serious buyers. On the other hand with B2B marketing, a B2B firm is typically targeting a niche clientele. A niche market means less leads coming in with longer sales cycles and more decision makers. With less leads coming in, why not manually nurture leads with custom content rather than generic messaging? With more decision makers, why not customize the messaging to each person in the sphere of influence so that the content addresses their priorities? Manually nurturing leads allows a B2B sales and marketing team to take full advantage of the relatively small number of opportunities that come their way.
Quality over Quantity
There are many social media management tools that allow a B2B firm to curate content from the web and post on their social media channels. Finding relevant third-party articles and posting to your company social media profiles is an excellent way to show you follow industry trends and remain top of mind with your following. Unfortunately most other companies are utilizing the same tools and social media channels have become content noise with an abundance of content that no one is reading.
B2B social media marketing is better done in a thoughtful manner. As a B2B firm, you don’t need to post four times a day. You don’t need to even post once week! The more important aspect of social media posting is that you are sharing original or third party content that is truly valuable to your audience. As you post less, you will notice that more of your audience is paying attention and engaging with your B2B brand.
I am predicting that there will be a backlash to marketing automation over the next few years—especially among small to medium size B2B firms and their clients. Just like many service companies implemented automated phone tellers years ago, most have gone back to real people answering the phone! In fact, service companies who have real people answering the phone advertise it as a competitive advantage. This will be the same with B2B marketing automation. The nature of B2B marketing—higher priced items, longer sales cycle, fewer prospects, etc.—demands manual marketing.