Comms is not a ‘nice to have’. A good strategy should always support an organisation’s business priorities. And very rarely in B2B will that not be – at least in part – driving sales.
Yet comms often doesn’t get the credit it deserves for its role in the sales process. And it’s true, reading a media article or blog isn’t going to convert sales at the same rate as product videos and demos. But the different touchpoints across an integrated comms and marketing programme – earned, owned, social and paid – all play a key role in influencing those with high purchasing intent to consider your product or service.
There are a number of models that show the role of marketing and comms in supporting the sales funnel that help exemplify the impact of different activities. But beyond offering different acronyms, they typically share a similar foundation and understanding. So, while we use the AIDA model – Awareness, Interest, Desire & Action – when building our comms and marketing strategies, the approach can be applied to different marketing funnels.
But how do you go from a catchy acronym to building a comms and marketing strategy that truly enables you to move customers through from awareness to action? Here are the starting blocks to help you build a comms and marketing strategy to support sales.
Awareness can be misleading as the first stage in the funnel. Don’t forget what comes before it – to be unknown. Awareness amongst your target audience is essential to fueling the sales funnel. After all, people are rarely going to buy from a brand they haven’t heard of – particularly in B2B technology where the decision is of strategic importance to their organisation.
Earned media articles, influencer-marketing programmes, and paid advertising across search and display, are key to reaching your target audience and building a familiarity that will bring your brand to mind when they start considering their options.
The greatest difference between Awareness and Interest is the shift from your customers “knowing who you are” to them “wanting to get to know you”. In B2B marketing and comms, this must come back to the problem you are solving for them. Showing you understand it, the impact it is having on them, and the opportunity for those that can overcome it.
This is where owned and social content really comes into its own; offering regular touchpoints to demonstrate your influence and relevance on the subjects that matter to them. And make sure to share this content beyond your own channels by empowering sales teams and employees to promote it through their own networks. After all, people buy from people. And that’s why earned media has its role to play too. Hearing about you from a respected journalist or sharing your opinions in a respected publication further validates what you’re saying and your credibility to say it.
Now prospective customers know you; you need them to want to buy your product. This is where you have to start talking about and (more importantly) demonstrating the value of your product or service. Hero content, for example, whether videos, whitepapers or eBooks, can help people understand the steps you would take overcome their pain point. While customer stories will demonstrate the real impact you are already having.
Building regular touchpoints at this stage in the funnel is also important. Targeted marketing, such as paid social or paid media campaigns, will help this high-value content hit the right, engaged audience.
Now you’ve taken your prospective buyer from “wanting to get to know you” to “wanting you” – what’s the next step? A clear call to action is critical to convert high-intent purchasers into customers. Do they click to buy? Do they sign up for a demo? Once you get to this critical point in the funnel, don’t lose a single prospective customer because they don’t know what to do next.
Measurement is key throughout this entire process. Taking a Test, Learn and Optimise approach enables you to continuously improve the programme, so that it is always delivering the greatest possible value for your marketing and comms investment.
Want to discuss how your marketing and comms strategy could better fuel the sales funnel? We’d love to help you! Reach out to us at [email protected].