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B2B agencies: Don’t be seen as just a supplier

Social and mobile has completely revolutionised the world of B2B. This is forcing marketers to constantly evolve and try out new technologies and platforms. It is also forcing B2B players to be “always-on”.

But what is important at the end of the day is to ensure your image as a trusted partner doesn’t get marred to clients. At Marketing‘s annual B2B Asia conference last week, Ajit Aras, general manager of sales and marketing at Sharp Electronics Singapore (Sharp) said that in today’s digital world, protecting your image is crucial.

He explained that more than 60% of B2B deals are lost even before a proposal is made simply based on the image you have online.

“Many a times, deals are lost due to bad reviews and reputation online. It just takes one senior member of the management team to come across a bad review to axe the deal,” he said. Therefore, it is crucial for a company to protect its image and branding online – especially with B2B customers becoming “always-on”.

He added that on average, B2B customers come across six touch points (such as the internet, social media plus calling sales executives) before making a decision. Given that most B2B buyers are also consumers at the end of the day, they too now expect tailored solutions with immediate services without delay, Aras said.

“In the B2B space, marketing has changed from just a lead generator to being a companion of the customer. This is because the customer has changed. Easy digital access has disrupted the traditional buying path of a B2b customer. In response companies need to consider Digital Transformation. All roads of digital transformation to lead to the customer,” said Aras.

But there is no doubt, digitalisation is actually helping corporations improve customer experience. Aras said:

Brands with greater digital capabilities convert 250% more leads to sales.

One advantage a B2B marketers generally have over B2C counterparts is a deeper understanding of their customers.

“The advantage B2B marketers have is, we generally know more about customers based on research and survey. So we know what their technical and commercial inclination is and it’s therfore easier to ultimately grasp their dynamic needs,” said Aras.

Change your image from a supplier to a thought leader

B2B clients expect their agency partners to understand their company’s business, products and services. Further to really connect and win over their trust, position yourself as a thought leader and provide them with educational content, said Aras.

Invest dollars into creating the right content. At the end of the day, this adds value.

Aras added that content which can connect to the audience doesn’t necessary need to be expensive and can be created in-house. While 30% of marketers think case studies are the content of preference of buyers, only 19% of buyers say the same. Hence, providing the right content is important.

Aras suggested that companies should use analytics to better understand the content clients might be keen in.

“Data analytics is important as we know what the customers like, dislike and expect to see in future, it can help to improve the customer experience,” said Aras.

Meanwhile on targeting the right audience, Ben Farnsworth, regional director of APAC at Encore Digital Media stressed that programmatic is increasingly getting popular among companies wanting to specifically target a set of audience even in the B2B space. He added that digital isn’t the answer to everything, but it helps when it comes to targeting in a very niche way.

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