While it’s hard to escape the hype around the benefits that online marketing brings to brands, it’s important that businesses – especially B2B businesses – continue to reach audiences through offline channels. B2B marketing needs to be approached differently than B2C. When reaching out to consumers, you want to be interacting with them frequently – even daily. With B2B, it’s all about ensuring that the client feels like you’re reliable and responsive to their needs. You won’t be reaching out to them as frequently, and when you do, you want the engagement to be as personal as possible. For these reasons, offline marketing still has a role to play. We see a number of offline marketing trends evolving in 2019, which all B2B brands should consider.
1. The proliferation of physical branding
Yes, your brand is on your letterheads and website. But are you really making the most of it? That’s unlikely. In the modern world, you don’t have long to catch a person’s attention. Indeed, according to research, the average attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish.
That’s right – you can have a person’s attention for less than six seconds. And if you don’t grab them then, you’re never going to. What can you do with just six seconds? Well, not much, and at the same time, a lot.
You won’t be able to make in-depth pitches to potential clients. Nor are you going to benefit from dumping a lot of information on them in the first instance. Instead, you need to weaponise your logo. Have it on lanyards at events, or projected onto surfaces somehow.
Have it on hats, on name badges, on brochures and stickers. The more places you have the logo, the more recognisable it will be. Then, when a business is in need of the kind of services that you provide, your logo will be the one they trust.
We were just talking about having your brand plastered everywhere with the logo… What better way to boost that signal than by sponsoring events? Sponsorship packages in the modern era tend to be very comprehensive, and offer a great deal of value-add to the sponsoring organisations.
Beyond having your name associated with the event, you’ll generally get advertising, booths, social media activity, and website links thrown into the mix. The trick is to find the right events to sponsor. As a B2B operation, you’ll be well aware of your target customers.
Do a bit of research and find out what events your clients attend, both professionally, and socially. If a large number of business owners in the sector you target are the kind of people that attend the theatre, then sponsoring a play will go down better than investing the huge dollars involved in sponsoring a football match.
Paying for billboard ads is often a waste of money for B2B organisations (with the possible exception of the roads leading to airports, because a lot of CEOs and other executives regularly use those roads as they head on an interstate or overseas business trip).
However, you can be strategic about these things. You won’t get much value from putting up a digital sign in the local shopping mall, but your office lobby is the first impression that many will have of your brand, so having high quality, visually interesting digital signage set up in the lobby can create a powerful impression of your brand.
Another option is to focus the digital signage locally. Imagine you’ve got a favourite café nearby – one where you’d be inclined to take clients for a coffee catch-up. Investing a small amount of money on having some signage in that café would generate far better results than the expensive and impersonal billboard hanging off a skyscraper in the city.
4. Get innovative
Have you heard of targeted Digital Out of Home (DOOH)? It’s something that you can expect to see a lot more of in the future. Basically, a display, such as the signage ones we just discussed above, collects data from smartphone IDs nearby (they can do this because smartphones “ping” wifi routers nearby, so the signage would have one such wifi router connected to it. Then it aggregates that data, and based on who’s around at the time, the sign will display the most appropriate marketing message or advertisement.
This means that down the track, even B2B brands can take advantage of displays in shopping malls or similar, as the display would wait for the right kind of people to be nearby before displaying your ad, and therefore you’d only be charged for the ad when you could be sure the right people would see it.
5. Don’t forget the printed material
For all the innovation above, the printed word is still not going to go anywhere anytime soon. Once you’ve caught the eye of a potential client, and moved them down the funnel to the point that they’re looking for more information on the products and services that you offer, having printed materials ready at hand will help to lend credibility and prestige to your brand.
You can have fun with the printed word, too, and use it to continue to build your brand. Producing high-quality, enjoyable content (for example, a photo book or similar) makes for an excellent corporate gift. That piece of collateral will then be left on a person’s coffee table, or perhaps the lobby area of their business, where others will pick it up and flick through it. In that way, your brand will become synonymous with high quality content and that will stick in the mind of clients when interacting with you.
There’s so much that can be achieved through offline marketing, from the most humble of printed materials right through to the most grandiose of events. None of this is to suggest that you should ignore online marketing, but rather, the underlying secret for success in marketing in 2019 will be in finding the right mix of online and offline marketing strategies, and then bringing that all together to form a cohesive vision.
By combining these touchpoints and outreach strategies in a cohesive manner, a B2B brand will be able to reach its target clients, but do so in a way that doesn’t seem so insistent, nor does it rely on the client being on the same platform at all times. It simply establishes your brand as something pervasive and reliable, and then, when the client needs your specific services, they already know that you’re there.