customer experience, 2014 Must-Do: Shut Up and Listen in B2B Marketing

Shhh. Your B2B marketers are talking. 

"These days there are so many ways to listen to our market and understand what people really want, but B2B marketers are still caught up in a one-way conversation," said Paul Gillin of Paul Gillin Communications.

Today, we deliver the third piece in our "2014 Must-Do" series — why you need to listen better in B2B marketing. Last week, we discussed getting back to basics in Web CMS and becoming agile in B2B marketing.

Listen Up


Two 2013 reports — one by the Google/CEB Marketing Leadership Council and another by McKinsey -- emphasize how out of touch B2B marketers are with the needs of their constituents.

McKinsey found the marketing focus for big B2B companies are of little interest to the people they're trying to reach. The Google study found emotion plays a much bigger part in B2B buying decisions than in B2C. Why? Probably because careers and even companies can be on the line -- compared to, say, the color of a handbag in B2C marketing.

"The McKinsey research also found big B2B firms mostly talk about the same things like innovation and corporate responsibility," Gillin told CMSWire. "The buyers McKinsey surveyed showed almost no interest in those topics. So what you've got is a lot of B2B companies repeating each other's messages without actually listening to what customers want."

So why aren't B2B marketers good listeners? At its core, marketing is about delivering a message, or talking more than you listen. However, with the growth of social media, conversations have become a more important part of the customer engagement process.

"This is a relatively recent phenomenon," Gillin said. "And it takes time for veteran marketers to adjust their tactics."

Get Ahead of the Message

Become a good listener even before your campaign begins, Gillin added. Use customer communities to test messages and get feedback before spending a lot of money blasting out to the market.

"There really is no excuse for fielding bad campaigns anymore because this kind of input is so cheap and easy to get," Gillin said.

Ensure your marketing campaigns spark dialogue. Allow your customers to talk to you and be willing to adjust campaigns to reflect what they say.