Best B2B marketing and business development practice has changed dramatically in recent years driven, primarily, by the rise in internet marketing and increasing resistance to aggressive marketing techniques.
For many years marketing in B2B markets was entirely push based. It was based on proactive sales work, telemarketing, advertising, print / direct mail and (although it could also be classed as a pull technique) press release. More recently Email marketing pushing a sales message was introduced to the mix.
A fact often missed (or ignored) is business people also have a personal life. With the growth of the internet, social media and all sorts of comparison and review sites people have become conditioned to search out the information they need (and make comparisons) online before making a purchasing decision. Bad practice Email and telemarketing practice, particularly in the B2C world, have built a resistance to these techniques that spills over into the business world.
Marketers have recently switched on to this change and current best practice in B2B marketing is pull rather than push based. It is based on delivering information to the point decision makers may access it to inform their decisions. The trick is to ensure the information is valuable, engaging, builds credibility and gently guides the decision maker along a path towards the offering of a particular business.
The pull process has become known as content marketing and is based on delivering content using a wide variety of tactics – many of which are listed here. The content itself may be white papers, technical notes, how to guides, industry comment / trends, comparisons, regulatory issues of interest and much more. Many businesses sit on a large amount of information that could be updated / amended to benefit customers and prospects.
Content marketing does not deliver results as fast as traditional push techniques and it does require significant resource to implement successfully but the resulting quantity and quality of sales leads tends to exceed that of push marketing. There are many challenges to overcome including finding and / or writing sufficient engaging content and finding the most appropriate channel to deliver that content.
The impact of push marketing then is decreasing with pull marketing the new focus. However, although pull marketing delivers more consistent and higher quality sales leads, it takes longer to deliver results and is resource intensive. Therefore push marketing techniques still have a place and can be selectively combined with pull techniques to deliver the best overall result.