In a previous post, we have discussed how traditional, interruptive sales and marketing tactics, such as cold calling, are not working as effectively anymore in the manufacturing sector.
Inbound marketing offers manufacturers the chance to reach a wider audience. Unlike other marketing methods such as print ads and mailers that rely on outreach to customers' locations, inbound marketing, and more specifically content, can help bring in a steady stream of traffic from people actively looking for your services (HubSpot).
In a previous post, we discussed how an inbound approach could help your software as a service (SaaS) company. We talked about the importance of SaaS organisations not only winning customers, but retaining them over the long term - a challenge inherent in the SaaS business model.
As a SaaS company, you will know that you have to wait a bit longer to enjoy the fruits of your labour than in other industries. When you win new business, the payoff doesn't come straight away. You need those customers to keep on buying your services and you also want to sell more services to them over time.
In the same vein, when you first start out on an inbound marketing journey, you won't reach your destination immediately. Implementing inbound marketing is a commitment (with all the challenges that entails).
However, in both instances, the potential rewards to be reaped are well worth the wait. So, let's explore why and consider how adopting inbound marketing for SaaS could help you to reach more of the right people and grow your business.
Many manufacturing businesses have traditionally relied on a direct or distributor sales force to generate growth. The founders, especially 50+ years ago, were essentially inventors – solving customers' pain through developing innovative solutions to problems in a way the competition couldn't. They did not need a marketing department to succeed, just pure guts and determination.
This traditional approach has continued through the decades with the role of marketing failing to evolve much beyond product brochures, maintaining the company website and tradeshows. It is not surprising, therefore, that many CEOs do not understand what marketing can do to help grow the business.
Across the spectrum, industries are facing change on an unprecedented scale – and the software as a service (SaaS) industry is no exception. In today's fast-moving and competitive environment, SaaS companies will live and die by their ability to acquire new customers and keep them on a long-term basis.
Therefore, it's important that you can reach the people that matter the most to your business. To do so, you need a targeted and effective marketing strategy that enables you to connect with and form relationships with the individuals and organisations that will benefit from purchasing your products and services.
Adopting an inbound approach can help you to achieve just that. In this post, we explore the current state of the SaaS industry and look at how implementing inbound marketing could help your company.
At its core, marketing is storytelling. Telling stories allows you to connect with your target audience; to create and build meaningful relationships. Stories paint a vivid picture of your brand, products and services; they show why you are the best choice.
In professional services marketing, telling stories enables you to garner trust in a digital landscape, where online capital counts for so much. From B2B case studies to blog posts and eBooks, there are various ways you can incorporate stories into your marketing efforts.
Inbound marketing is customer-centric: your target audience is at the heart of everything you do. Therefore, you need to understand that audience – and one of the best ways to do that is to create B2B buyer personas.
Buyer personas represent the people that matter to your business. HubSpot defines them as "fictional, generalised characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behaviour patterns among your real and potential customers".
Your buyer personas should inform your entire inbound marketing strategy. Without them, your campaigns and messaging could be completely missing the mark. So, how can you make certain that you're effectively prioritising your B2B buyer personas?
By now, many companies understand the vital role that content plays in attracting their target audience. According to HubSpot's 2016 State of Inbound report, 73 per cent of organisations have adopted inbound as their primary approach to marketing – and, of course, inbound is powered by content. The report surveyed more than 4,500 respondents from marketing backgrounds in B2B, B2C, small, and mid-sized businesses, which are based in over 132 countries – so the results are not to be sniffed at!
However, it is no longer enough for businesses to simply create content. The competition is heating up and there is a lot (and I mean a lot) of content out there. In today's environment, mediocre content just won't cut it – and even good, unique content will struggle. So, we need to be creating extraordinary content.
"Myth: a widely held but false belief or idea."
B2B content writing is a topic ripe for discussion. There's tons of information and advice out there, which you could spend hours reading and digesting. But, you might still find yourself scratching your head over what denotes best practice.
So, in the age of the "post-truth" society, it's time to put to bed a few lingering myths about creating B2B content.
"Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is set to revolutionise the manufacturing and production industry by integrating the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, data integration and other technological advances into the heart of production and manufacturing systems."
There's no doubt that Industry 4.0 is coming for the manufacturing industry – and with it, big changes. The ultimate goal of Industry 4.0 is the "smart" factory, in which "cyber-physical systems (CPS) will monitor the physical processes within modular structured factories, and a virtual copy of the physical world will be mined for data in real time, enabling decentralised decisions" (Source: The Manufacturer).
Simultaneously, there are changes afoot in the sales and marketing environment – the go-to methods simply don't work as well as they used to. Today, more and more business is conducted online and, to put it simply, no one wants to talk to your sales team – at least, not to start with. The power has passed into the hands of buyers, who want to ensure they are informed and educated about their needs before they speak to a sales person. In fact, according to a survey carried out by Forrester, 74 per cent of B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.
So, what to do?
"Writing is the painting of the voice" - Voltaire
We all have unique voices: deep and rich, breathy, high-pitched, soft and honeyed. And when we write, we also have unique voices. However, sometimes we stymie our voices, shackling our personalities to produce flat, impersonal writing. We resort to tired templates and worn-out clichés, jargon and meaninglessness.
This is all too easily done in the context of B2B content writing, where much of what is created is dismissed as "boring". After all, if what you're writing about is dull, then why bother to inject some individuality?
The answer is, because it matters. When you're writing for a business, your audience is still made up of real people, with real problems – and you might just be able to solve them. But first, you need to embrace your writing voice.