Although the industries they work with may be vastly different, marketers targeting business-to-business customers face similar challenges. With typically smaller budgets than consumer-driven campaigns, they must still catch the eyes of busy executives. To better reach prospects, they are increasingly stretching their dollars to launch integrated, creative campaigns that are also more targeted and personalized than ever.
Traditionally, the consumer side of marketing has been the most provocative and interesting, but in recent years, b-to-b has stepped up as well, says Diane Quinlisk, direct of business development at Catalyst Direct, Inc., a direct marketing firm in Rochester, NY with clients such as Kodak.
“There are a lot more creative applications in the b-to-b space in terms of direct marketing pieces,” she says.
For example, b-to-b campaigns rarely rely on a single direct mail piece anymore. “It's all about a multi-touch campaigning,” Quinsilk explains. “You allow your customer to interact with you the way they want to.”
Integrating print, e-mail, and Web components have proven to be most effective in reaching customers, agrees Bob Northway, VP of Alexander Marketing in Grand Rapids, MI, which recently worked with Dow Chemical on a trade show campaign. Including a virtual trade show on the company's Web Site, for example, proved essential in reaching prospects who were interested in its products but who could not physically attend the event.
Marketers also shouldn't forget to call. “It's essential in really maximizing the impact of the campaign,” says Mark Egeling, marketing manager, graphic communications group, Kodak, because telemarketing lets the company call to find out if there are opportunities to sell other products.
Whichever media you choose, targeting the right people is essential when you're dealing with small budgets – so getting quality, targeted lists is extremely important. “If you can't select a very tight list, you can price yourself out of doing direct mail,” Northway points out.
Segmenting and profiling of potential customers is also more common, with increased use of data and analytics. Rather than casting a wide net, b-to-b marketers now go after their best leads. For a recent Kodak campaign, Catalyst Direct whittled an initial contact list of about 18,000 to 20,000 potential customers to 4,000, says Egeling. “They helped us really narrow down to the highest opportunity prospects,” he notes.
B-to-b marketers have also become more sophisticated in understanding the need for personalization, since it allows companies to make their marketing pieces more relevant to specific segments. A personalized door hanger, for example, was a key component to a campaign for Convergys, completed by the Atlanta-based Arketi Group. It grabbed people's attention, nad when it was hung on an employee's door, it also caught the eyes of others in the same office. “It created a lot of buzz,” says Sami Jajeh, principal of the Arketi Group.
Overall, b-to-b marketing is changing across many dimensions, Jajeh adds, pointing out that Web 2.0 applications provide more media options and contact points than ever.
"Buyers have more competitive alternatives and better access to information regarding those alternatives,” he explains. “As a result, smart creative is critical to break through with a compelling message that customers will see, care about, and respond to.”
Dow Chemical: Trade show campaign
Dow Chemical's UCON Fluids and Lubricants division wanted to take full advantage of its presence at an industry trade show this past spring. Working with Alexander Marketing, the company devised an integrated campaign that included a tradeshow display, direct mailer, e-mail and a virtual tradeshow on its Web site. The result yielded more qualified foot traffic at the booth and visitors to the Web site. Dow has since used the same strategy for two trade shows in other markets this year.
Convergys: Personalized components
Convergys, a provider of outsourced customer care, human resources and billing services, hired the Arketi Group to help develop and execute a direct mail campaign to generate leads and qualified appointments for Convergys' sales force. The campaign featured a personalized door hanger, direct mail and e-mail components, as well as a Web page with information and downloads. It has generated more than 100 qualified meetings so far.
To help promote Kodak's digital printing solutions and increase brand awareness in new markets, Catalyst Direct encouraged business to “serve up” more than vanilla with an integrated print/online/telemarketing campaign including a personalized direct mail piece containing an ice cream scoop and a URL and phone number to receive a coupon for one free pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. The campaign, which is still live, has resulted in 277 sales leads.