Ignite Your Influence: Advice for Starting a Career in Marketing

We all know that there is a global skills shortage, which intensifies the competition for talent between all manner of businesses for all manner of skills.

Marketing, especially B2B marketing, is no exception. As a profession, we need to clearly define what skills are necessary to embark on and succeed in a career in B2B marketing and make it an attractive proposition for those who are considering their career options because, these days, they have a lot of them.

Those of us already in the marketing profession enjoy it very much but sometimes wonder why it’s difficult to find the same enthusiasm in others.

The short answer is, ironically, that our profession is not as good as it should be in marketing itself!

We’re more than happy to take up that challenge, but to do that, we need to start at the source of the talent stream and divert it to where its nourishment is needed most.

We’re somewhat biased of course, but B2B marketing is not a backwater. It’s mainstream. And we set out to find out from peers in our field what they believe it takes to attract and retain talent in an increasingly explicit field.

Fortunately, Napier hosts and runs the Marketing B2B Technology podcast. As part of our podcast interviews, we asked podcast guests from a wide range of B2B marketing tech companies to share their best advice for young people contemplating a career in marketing, B2B or otherwise.

Here’s a compendium of what we learned:

Skills

The first thing that a prospective employee – or someone already in marketing or considering a career change - should do is a detailed assessment of their existing skill set. What are you good at? (Be honest!) What excites you? Are you more creative or analytical? There’s not a right answer because marketing requires each of those personality types and many more, but it’s important to truly discover yourself. You then apply those identified attributes to an agency or company that can use, and nurture, those strengths.

However, no matter how good you now think you are – and we all think we’re pretty good to some degree - you have to leave your ego at the door. You are now part of a team. What you need to bring is a fresh take with your creativity, attention to detail and any other demonstrable skill you possess.  Remember, marketing is a science, not a magic trick... although magic sometimes happens!

Anyone who wants to get into marketing should consider studying business first. You need to at the very least have a basic understanding of how business is structured.

And it’s those business basics that will serve you well in engaging with your customers throughout your marketing career. If you’re focused on that, you’re helping customers along the buying journey in ways they can relate to. Don’t focus solely on features and benefits. Focus on how your product or service will improve your customer’s personal or professional life.

If you honestly identify your marketable skills, and are a champion of them in the workplace, your stock will go up. Don’t worry too much about making a mistake. Mistakes are good. They mean you are trying to do the right thing and occasionally failing. It’s said that Thomas Edison failed in the order of 1,000 times before producing a light bulb that worked. Now, don’t think of marketing as a failure academy because the best marketing is derived from learning from occasional misfires – yours and others.  In fact, don’t think of it as marketing per se.  Think of it as educational and helpful, particularly in B2B marketing, which in many ways is exactly what it is.

Experience

There are so many directions a young person can go that could align with their passion, whether they’re more creative, mathematically or technically inclined. There is fulfilling room for all in B2B marketing. In fact, marketing is a great place to gain experience because you almost can’t do anything wrong. A huge part of marketing is making educated decisions about what is going to be of most value to a customer to help them in their buying journey. Not every cul-de-sac will lead to a sale, but that’s the beauty of it. You add it to the list of cul-de-sacs to avoid, unless a customer wants that particular cul-de-sac!

You may end up at a large megafirm (congratulations), but more often than not the best place to gain valuable experience or hone your skills is with start-ups, or small regional or specialist agencies. It’s also more likely that you’ll be “seen” and be afforded opportunities to get more quickly involved at increasingly senior levels. Use the early years to absorb as much information and practical real-world experience as possible. Volunteer for every project. If there’s something you can’t do, be honest about it, then try to learn. And that’s the main point anyway. You should never stop learning, especially from mistakes! Take control. Apply your positive attitude, activity and efforts to learning. Then use what you’ve learned to get results for your clients. It’s one of the most satisfying things you can achieve early in your B2B career, and the beauty is that that satisfaction will increase throughout your career as your experience continues to grow. Never. Stop. Learning.

Customers

Customers always have been and shall always remain supreme.

In B2B marketing, if you want to market a company effectively, especially when you’re not immersed in their products every day, you must talk with their customers. That’s where you find out what they love about the product, which will help you understand how to reflect the best of the product onto your client’s target audience.

And that’s the key. Part of the process of learning and gaining experience is working hard to gain an understanding of your client’s customers. Remember, it’s ultimately not solely about your client’s product or services, it’s about their customers’ needs and what you can do to help satisfy those needs.

If you’re early in your B2B marketing career you have an opportunity to establish yourself as an expert, and you can become that very quickly if you make it a point to always think about your client’s customers’ needs first.

Just remember that marketing is about customer empathy and insight. If you come to understand them well enough to feel their pain points and learn how to communicate about how a product or service can minimise or eliminate those pain points and, therefore, improve their lives, you’ll succeed.

Business

Once you understand customers you need to put things in a business context, so you need business skills, not just marketing skills

It is absolutely critical to invest in your own business acumen. Earn your seat at the table of the executives and the board, to understand how every single ounce of your effort is driving business impact.

Don’t get hung up on the tactics and the things that aren’t important. Business is quite simple when you boil it down, we’re trying to get more customers, trying to reduce churn, and trying to increase profit.

Metrics

Marketing is a marriage of art and science. For people who enjoy using use both sides of their brain - plus the bit in between - it’s a very satisfying way to make a living.

That said, you must understand how the use of those sensory attributes applies the fundamental marketing metrics. i.e., the analytical measurements. If you get the input metrics right, the output metrics – that’s the science bit - happen automatically.

Park your opinion and follow the data using as many marketing tools as you can. There are plenty available today that are not only very useful, but a lot of fun to use.

Put simply, measuring everything correctly will give you results that you can count on to create your vision. That’s the art bit.

So, if you’re curious, enjoy creativity and storytelling, and if you enjoy making sense of data, there is an exciting career waiting for you in marketing.

Keep developing

Markets are constantly changing, so you have to keep learning, which is never a bad thing.

Read a lot. The more you read, the more you feather your knowledge nest and the more you’re likely to be able to absorb information and develop skills that will benefit you, your client and your employer.

It's tough out there, but you’re tougher

All of the above said, marketing is no Shangri-la (except when you score a big success!). Thick skin and patience have their respective roles to play but use them to play the long game. Marketing isn’t magic. It takes time to work, so set expectations and don’t overpromise.

Even better, develop the skill of learning. Learn how to say complicated things in simple ways. If you can’t get an idea across in two sentences or less, you’re probably overcomplicating it and your audience will switch off.

If you get stuck and can’t find a solution at that moment, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Stick with it. The truth and the solution are out there, and you’re the one who's most likely to find it!

Conclusion

Not one of the professionals we spoke with for their interview said, "Don't go into marketing".

Quite the contrary. Almost every one of them said some form of “Go into marketing determined to use all your skills and all of the tools available to you because there is ample space to apply and make a success of all of them.”

And we hope you will.


Championing Brand Consistency: A Strategic Imperative for B2B Marketers

Brand consistency is an integral component of success for marketing professionals.

If you are at all a strategic-minded marketer (and I assume you are) you fully understand the importance of a consistent brand image.

In this blog, I'll examine the critical role of brand consistency and provide a high-level overview of practical tips that you can use to achieve your objectives while maximising value for your client or company and ensuring a measurable ROI. By the time I’ve finished, you will understand why it is so important to establish and maintain brand consistency to drive sales growth, enhance operational efficiency and establish effective collaboration with your clientele.

The Relationship between Marketing Campaigns and Uniform Brand Representation

Marketing campaigns are powerful tools, enabling marketers to promote brand awareness and engage target audiences. However, it is crucial to understand that such campaigns must include consistent messaging. By ensuring that logos and colour schemes marry up with a consistent tone of voice and messaging, marketing pros can strengthen brand identity and avoid consumer confusion. This unification of brand and message builds trust and, therefore, brand loyalty.

Leveraging KPIs to Promote Consistent Branding

You should already understand the importance of measuring results. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are important, invaluable metrics for evaluating brand identity consistency. By matching KPIs such as sales growth, agency performance and operational efficiency to your branding goals; you can make informed decisions that will enable you to accurately monitor and evaluate the impact of your efforts. This enables you to identify areas of improvement, refine strategies and more effectively maintain brand consistency.

Strategic Approaches to Innovation that Retain Brand Identity

Innovation is crucial to good marketing, but it must be strategically executed to ensure brand consistency. It’s important to maintain the balance between a desire for innovation and retaining a brand's core identity. Focus on incremental rather than wholesale improvements and carefully evaluate new ideas before implementing them. A misfired brand initiative can take months, if not years, to recover from. Some brands never recover at all.

Comprehensive Responsibilities of the Marketing Team

Marketing teams are responsible for ensuring brand consistency online and offline. This means overseeing messaging, visual identity and customer experience at every point of contact, including website design, social media, customer service, and physical packaging. It requires you to adopt a holistic approach, to reinforce brand consistency and build long-lasting customer loyalty.

How Marketing Agencies Support in Establishing Brand Consistency Strategies

If you let them, specialist marketing agencies can play a vital role in supporting you on your journey to establish and maintain successful brand awareness strategies. Working with agencies that specialise in brand awareness and management enables you to benefit from their depth of expertise and extensive resources. Marketing agencies can provide valuable, highly informed insights on market trends, conduct brand audits and ensure consistency across all marketing platforms, physical and digital.

Conclusion

Being a champion of brand consistency is a core component of leading a successful marketing team.  You have to understand the value it brings to your organisation and recognise the importance of establishing and maintaining the relationship between marketing campaigns and consistency across platforms. Partnering with external marketing agencies can greatly improve your ability to maximise value, drive sales growth and give you the edge you need to achieve your corporate sales and marketing goals in a highly competitive marketplace.

If you’re interested in how we can support you in building compelling marketing campaigns that maintain brand identity, get in touch.


Is Twitter/X Still a Good Choice for B2B Marketers?

The emergence of a little blue bird on our computer screens 17 years ago was heralded by many in B2B marketing as a game-changing tool, perhaps even a solution, for reaching target markets in a whole new and precise way.

And until recently that proved to be largely true. “Twitter” (now known as X) ushered in what was for many an exciting new era of vastly improved audience targeting and data analytics capabilities. Apart from its social applications, Twitter enabled marketers – particularly B2B marketers - to promote their products and services with far greater reach to far more specific and relevant audiences. It wasn’t long before additional targeting options led to even higher levels of engagement and conversion.

Twitter rebranded

But that was then and this is now. 17 months is an eternity in the evolution of a social media platform, let alone 17 years. The recent rebranding of Twitter to “X” derailed many existing marketing campaigns that B2B professionals had been investing heavily in for years, forcing them to scramble to redesign strategies to accommodate the revamped platform’s features, algorithms and policies.

The change from Twitter to X so far has been, to paraphrase, a case of: “If it ain’t broke, break it.”

It used to be that changes in a platform often introduced new and innovative engagement opportunities for B2B marketers. B2B creatives and account managers took full advantage of their enhanced ability to showcase their ideas and, more importantly, accurately measure higher audience engagement through click-through rates and, ultimately, conversions that came as a direct result of their work.

But the ongoing dilution of confidence in the X platform has been disruptive, and one thing B2B marketers abhor is the interruption of a well-researched, carefully planned campaign. Changes in the X platform have prompted a net decline in audience engagement and reach for B2B marketers and their clients. X is estimated to have experienced as much as a 60 percent fall in advertising revenue, which suggests that users, including B2B marketers, have been voting with their fingers, and their eyeballs. This has a negative and shadow-lengthening impact on what had been effective B2B marketing campaigns on the platform.

The Impact of Musk

Elon Musk, at the time of this writing, is still the richest man in the world, and is not known as a shy, retiring type. His sometimes bold statements and often audacious business strategies have made advertisers wary. He has cut content moderation almost to the bone, restored accounts of extremists who had been banned under the previous management, and enabled users to purchase account verification, helping them profit from viral - but often inaccurate - posts. Much of this was initiated under a banner of turning Twitter into an “everything app” called X that has not quite materialised as envisaged. Many of the proposed changes following the acquisition of Twitter were also philosophically based on the notion of “restoring free speech”..

However, recent controversial statements by Musk have caused a number of big-name companies to withdraw or suspend their advertising from X. “Speech” may be, to a large extent in many parts of the world, free, but the ramifications of exercising it to extremes outside what brands view as acceptable is not a clever move.

Marketing on social media

User experience was a much-vaunted attribute of X for B2B marketers. It greatly enhanced engagement with branded content. However, changes to the platform have also changed user behaviour. It’s well-established that platform changes are not always well-received by users and target audiences. When their effectiveness declines, B2B marketing budgets are usually the first to take the hit. Other marketing tools such as LinkedIn Ads and LinkedIn Sales Navigator are available and the migration to them is gathering pace.

The improved analytics and reporting tools of X helped B2B marketers gain better insights into their campaign performance, allowing for more informed decision-making and optimisation of marketing strategies to achieve better results. However, dwindling audiences are compromising significant investments in such platforms to a degree that appears to be steadily eroding expenditures in campaign development, targeting, ad formats and budget allocations. The take up of Threads on Instagram, Meta’s recently launched (July 2023) competitor to X, has already been reported to have slowed dramatically since its launch. The fallout from the takeover and rebranding of Twitter, including laying off 75 percent of the company’s workforce, controversial policy decisions and various legal battles, has given pause to many who for years have been actively using or considering such platforms for marketing purposes. Threads was seen as a chance for previous X users to switch to a platform that can give them many of the things that they valued about X, but that it no longer offers. However, Threads appears to be a promise as yet unfulfilled.

X subscriptions: not safe for marketing

The removal of certain content restrictions on X, ostensibly to champion “free speech”, has had the effect of opening the door to “not safe for work” content that has increasingly deterred corporate users and B2B marketers from relying on the platform for their messaging.

The original appeal of using social media as a marketing tool was largely based on its ability to integrate with existing marketing automation tools, customer relationship management (CRM) systems and other business software that enables users to streamline processes and workflows. That remains the case but - for some platforms - just how deep that integration should go is being called into question.

It remains true that B2B marketers can benefit from reduced advertising costs while still achieving their marketing objectives, but only if platforms introduce changes that offer an attractive and compelling user experience. Those that violate the “don’t bore me” rule will likely be short-lived players.

Moreover, if platform change involves alterations to APIs, data integration or third-party tools, B2B marketers can face additional challenges when trying to integrate existing systems or tools with the updated platform. That, in turn, can have an impact on their data management and analytics capabilities. Such an integration can be an expensive proposition that could require the adopter – and its clients – to change their business models, pricing structures or fee policies, potentially diminishing their overall cost-effectiveness.

Many, understandably, are not willing to take that risk.

There are also many who balked at the introduction of nearly a $8-per-month fee for “blue tick” level subscriptions, said to be a disincentive for scammers to use the X premium accounts to target other users with inappropriate and “harmful” content, which has caused ad revenue to decline by 60%. More than 80 per cent of X users who took part in a recent poll said they would not pay for the checkmark. On the other hand, approximately 10 per cent said they were willing to pay $5 a month to subscribe, giving them the ability to read a limited number of tweets. For a company whose revenue is 90 percent generated from advertising, this should be a concern.

Benefits of X

That said, whilst there are changes some benefits do remain. The platform still allows for real-time communication, meaning that the short-form content and fast-paced continuity of X allow B2B marketers to build an audience. With X operating in real-time, engaging audiences can be as simple as responding to their questions or concerns and liking and retweeting their comments. Doing so helps B2B marketers build credibility and aids in audience growth and trust.

The major changes on X have proved to be inconvenient for businesses; however, X at is core is remaining a ‘news and trend’ platform. Users can continue to keep up to date via X and B2B marketers can analyse the trends and topics which engage their audiences, to generate new ideas for engagement in the future.

Coming to terms with the changes of X

Even so, major changes in any software platform can require B2B marketers to undergo a learning curve to understand and effectively utilise new features or functionalities. This could involve investing time and resources in training and education to maximise the benefits of the platform that doesn’t take into account the ramifications of adhering to data handling, privacy policies, or compliance regulations that could pose challenges for B2B marketers.

It's important to note that the specific challenges faced by B2B marketers who want to continue to use the platform will depend on the nature and extent of any further changes X makes. But there is one certainty, if B2B marketers want to continue to use the platform, they will need to adapt and respond quickly and strategically to any changes to ensure their continued success in their marketing efforts.


Napier Certified as Great Place to Work

It’s official. Napier is a great place to work.

Of course, those who work at Napier knew that already. But following an independently administered survey of all Napier employees by Great Place To Work®, the global authority on workplace culture, Napier has been awarded the globally-recognised Great Place to Work Certified™ status.

Analysis of Napier’s comprehensive survey results confirmed that Napier employees view their company (and it is truly “their” company as it is employee-owned) as one that provides an exceptional employee experience. The survey is a data-driven model based on feedback from 100 million employees around the world that has established a benchmark of excellence to be measured against.

The Napier employee survey results identified multiple attributes such as Napier’s encouragement of open communication, collaboration and teamwork; a strong sense of belonging and inclusion, including involving employees in decision-making processes; and valuing employee input from every level.

Napier employees also strongly supported the notion that Napier offers interesting and meaningful work with a particular emphasis on training and development that in turn leads to opportunities for career advancement.

Its culture of transparent, empathetic and experienced leaders who inspire and motivate their respective teams was also cited as a key factor of creating an environment where employees are consistently motivated, engaged and empowered to perform at their best.

Being a great place to work embodies these characteristics and more by virtue of maintaining an environment where happy employees thrive; and the positive effects of their job satisfaction also accrue to Napier clients, who share in the benefits of a switched-on team.

Napier has been verified, in its employees’ own words, as a Great Place To Work, and you can’t get a better endorsement than that.


The Ultimate ABM FAQ

Account-based marketing is now a priority tactic for many B2B tech companies. With in-house ABM experts, we're often asked multiple questions about ABM from how it works, to how it's possible to scale, and the more complex questions around how to measure ROI.

We've compiled our most frequently asked questions (FAQ) into one blog post. Check them out below!

What is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is an alternative to traditional wide-casting marketing techniques that focuses on seeking out and homing in on specific targets that are the most likely to respond to – and benefit from - tailored marketing messages that meet their very specific needs and resonate with their corporate preferences.

ABM is effective because it assembles and trains the best of the available resources to win over a select group of high-value accounts. This targeted approach ensures that marketing efforts always keep the most promising prospects in focus, engaged and, ultimately, converted into loyal customers.

How does ABM differ from traditional marketing approaches?

ABM is far more personalised that traditional, broad-based strategies. It is effective because prospects are more likely to respond to an approach that resonates with their perception of their current requirements but may also – through careful advance research – serve as the catalyst for interest in a product or service that may not have initially been on their radar. A highly tailored marketing campaign for each target account can include personalised messages, content and offers that align with the unique characteristics and challenges that your research has identified as being of value to each account.

Although the personalised approach is good for individual companies, it can also be a great way to win over entire business sectors. The basic strategies are largely similar to what you would do for individual businesses but are scaled up from one-to-one to one-to-many. That does not dilute the focused personal touch. It just means that it is designed to achieve results on a broader scale while retaining its smaller, more intimate values. It’s a fine line, but a distinctive one

Why should a company consider implementing ABM?

ABM leads to higher ROI, more efficient use of marketing resources and requires a closer alignment between sales and marketing teams to achieve it. This is because both teams need to collaborate far more closely to identify specific targets, develop strategies that are equally specific and use that information to execute personalised campaigns. When they are in sync, they greatly improve their chances of account engagement and conversion.

How do we identify target accounts for ABM?

Identifying target accounts for an ABM campaign is typically based on revenue potential, strategic fit, their perceived overall market influence and other criteria relevant to their business and yours.

This is where the research aspect of an ABM campaign comes into play. Research is a too-often-overlooked component of any marketing campaign, let alone an ABM-style undertaking.

Where has your company been successful in the past? Why are you not having as much success in other markets that are of interest to you? Where is the data that will support a more informed way of building a target shortlist and, crucially, what’s important to you as a company? How do you measure success?

In short, you must identify the personas of your prospective customers and what solutions they need, and then devise a carefully targeted campaign to ensure they want yours.

What's the role of content in ABM?

Content is still king, and it’s essential for ABM. New and personalised content (usually both) tailored to the specific needs and challenges of target accounts fuels the engine room of engagement. Providing that engagement enables you to assist those customers as they make their way along the sales funnel.

How does ABM align sales and marketing teams?

ABM requires a closer alignment between sales and marketing teams. This is because both teams need to collaborate far more closely to identify specific targets, develop strategies and use their shared information to execute personalised campaigns. When they are in sync, they greatly improve the chances of account engagement and conversion.

The fact that both marketing and sales see the same results relevant to their goals, is a result of them working in close harmony, which in turn flows into future initiatives to the benefit of their departments, their customers, their employer, and the bottom line for each.

What tools are essential for ABM?

The most common ABM tools include CRM and account intelligence platforms, marketing automation and personalisation tools, all of which are readily available in a range of formats that, while user-friendly, may require professional assistance to ensure their best and most efficient deployment.

This is particularly true for some ABM tools that typically target ads to a specific company’s IP address. These can be highly effective if you want to reach a large percentage of the employees at that company, but to ensure it is implemented properly in the highly personalised way it needs to be, it may be best to secure professional assistance, or even hire an external agency to manage or organise the automation of that process for you.

How do you measure the success of an ABM campaign?

The key metrics to measure ABM success includes account engagement, an assessment of the sales pipeline created, the amount of revenue generated as a direct result of the campaign, and account penetration, i.e., how many existing or prospective customers were reached and ultimately became invested in the exchange.

These fundamentals alone will give you a very good measure of the degree of success of your ABM campaign. There are many more measurement tools, but this will depend on the goal and level of detail required.

Is ABM only suitable for large enterprises?

ABM is an equal opportunity concept, regardless of the size of an organisation considering it. Yes, large enterprises may, unsurprisingly, have a larger proportion of resources to devote to an ABM campaign, but they typically have a much larger constituency to reach. ABM is very scalable, which means that with a properly planned and focused budget it can be tailored in a way that is economically viable and ultimately beneficial for businesses of any size. The approach might differ in terms of scope, but the principles are identical. In fact, it is entirely possible that a carefully constructed budget, coupled with a highly focused campaign, can generate disproportionately good results for mid-sized companies because the campaign can have a profound impact on converting a higher percentage of a relatively small number of targets.

How is ROI calculated in ABM?

ROI in ABM is typically calculated by measuring the revenue generated from targeted accounts against the costs of the campaigns targeting them. Again, this calculation is similar regardless of the size of the company. It’s a straightforward process that, done properly, provides a very clear-eyed view of what is working, and what needs improvement.

How long does it take to see results from ABM?

Many companies start seeing results within a few months. However, long-term benefits may take longer to materialise.

You also have to factor in the time it takes to set up and implement an ABM campaign, which is a key part of the investment. How fast you see results is largely a factor of the scale and tactics used for the campaign; the demographics of its target audience; and the resonance the message has with those targets. Near-term results are always welcome, but an equally beneficial “long tail” response is not uncommon. Patience and persistence can be key to ABM.

How do we ensure data quality in ABM?

This is a key question. Data integrity is everything for an ABM campaign, as it increasingly is for many modern business operations. It is imperative that digital databases are regularly and thoroughly updated and cleansed. It is also essential that reliable data sources are researched and validated (best done in conjunction with the sales team), which can then be integrated with your specialised marketing applications to minimise the possibility of data discrepancies.

What challenges might we encounter with ABM?

Common challenges include the aforementioned data accuracy issues; alignment – or a lack thereof -between sales and marketing; identifying the right accounts to target; and achieving the most appropriate scaling of the strategy.

Importantly, it’s also a case of being brave enough to allocate a significant portion of the marketing budget to go after specific prospects. That’s because ABM is often, rightly, designed to target the hardest companies to win over. In such cases, where there is a lot of competition vying for their attention, an understanding of the personas you are trying to reach and where they are in their respective customer journey will clearly distinguish you from the competition.

Can you use non-digital content for ABM?

Definitely! Many ABM campaigns still use physical mailings. Getting promotional items on the desks of key decision-makers at the target companies can still have a huge impact. Also, one of the beauties of the ABM approach is it allows for spending on more expensive physical mailers as you are typically targeting a smaller number of accounts. That makes it practical and affordable to engage in promotional items that may be more of a direct match, more personal and will be retained for longer. There is still a place for good swag in ABM.

What role do ads play in ABM?

Targeted advertising can be used to engage specific accounts, raise awareness and drive them to personalised landing pages. They are signposts to what you really want to get across, so make sure they are compelling and memorable.

Should you set up a landing page for each company in an ABM account?

Yes. You should always personalise a campaign as much as possible, so setting up personalised landing pages is important. In fact, a lot of ABM campaigns are built on the basis of outbound email and personalised landing pages, and it can be very effective. It is entirely possible - and even preferable - to create personalised landing pages at scale using marketing automation tools.

Can ABM and inbound marketing coexist?

Absolutely! In fact, ABM should be part of inbound marketing. While ABM is account-specific, inbound marketing still generates leads and should not be ignored or abandoned. The strategies complement each other.

How frequently should we review and adjust our ABM strategy?

At Napier, we schedule frequent check-ins with our clients to review the metrics of their campaign and adjust as needed, but a comprehensive review every quarter or bi-annually serves as an essential benchmark that we rely on to ensure the best possible outcome.

How do we handle accounts that don't engage?

We must be upfront and say that ABM often targets the hardest companies to win. So, it might take quite a bit of time to achieve the ideal level of engagement. Playing the long game is therefore very important. ABM is very often not a “one-and-done” proposition.

It could also be that you’re not providing content that resonates with your target, which means it’s time to refine your approach by trying new content and running smaller tests to determine what is the best approach.

If all that fails, frankly, you need to reassess the account's fit with your organisation or consider that your approach isn’t working. It’s then time to rethink your strategy.

Is ABM expensive?

How long is a piece of budget? Costs can vary widely largely based on the size of the company and the scale of the campaign required to reach the proposed target audience. The irony is that the highly focused approach of even a large ABM campaign often means that resources are used more efficiently and are therefore less expensive to run overall than traditional campaigns. Moreover, they achieve better results, either in isolation or in tandem with traditional inbound marketing initiatives.

How do we integrate ABM with our existing tech stack?

The vast majority of marketing technology tools for ABM now integrate very well with existing CRM, marketing automation and other in-house platforms. The key is in how you configure and ultimately use those new tools. Napier is highly experienced in setting up ABM tools and it’s often best to take advantage of that expertise to prevent early misfires.

Should all accounts be treated equally in ABM?

To paraphrase George Orwell’s Animal Farm, all accounts are equal, but some accounts are more equal than others.  Accounts must be prioritised based on potential revenue, strategic fit and likelihood to close. It’s important to note that the data that indicates the likelihood of closing will move potential targets up and down on a prospect viability graph. The data will show interest in some targets ebb and flow over time. Surprisingly, however, targets that have inactive for some time can suddenly flare up into highly attractive opportunities. That’s why it’s important to maintain some degree of engagement and not fully disregard unresponsive targets. That doesn’t mean they all have to be given the same amount of attention at all times, just that you have to be prepared to shift your emphasis when the data shows that the time is right.

How do we scale our ABM efforts?

If you are new to ABM, the best way to scale your efforts is to start with a pilot program, refine it based on results and then extend it to include more accounts.

It’s a good idea to test your campaign ideas by targeting one or two companies (usually smaller ones deliver the best and quickest results) for a relatively short time to ensure your approach is the correct one for that market before you scale up. This will avoid wasting time and money. Starting small is particularly relevant if the product or service you are offering is purchased on an annual basis. However, if a short-term campaign indicates that a smaller account is ripe for profitable development (and could perhaps even grow with your help) it’s the perfect reason to suggest that a low-level ABM programme should continue. You can readily find this out from the early results, but it’s best to discuss this with experts to ensure you are making that suggestion based on verifiable evidence.

What are some common misconceptions about ABM?

Some believe that ABM is a new concept that is hard to understand, difficult to implement and so expensive that it’s best left to the big companies. It’s not, and doesn’t have to be, any of those things. It’s quite simple. ABM is about refining and focusing existing strategies to make them far more targeted. It’s a far more efficient way of converting the spray-and-pray approach into rich, colourful and highly focused digital pixels.

Can PR be a part of an ABM campaign?

Yes. PR campaigns occasionally include elements that they hope will grab the attention of a specific company, but the goal is often to influence an entire market. PR is generally more broadly targeted than ABM, but the two disciplines can work together to ensure a comprehensive approach that leaves no opportunity unnoticed and no sale unconverted…

…. at least that’s the ultimate aim.

So how do I get started in ABM?

The best way to start is by contacting the experts at Napier!

Find out more about ABM here and check out how we’ve supported other clients with ABM via our case study.


The Importance of Brand Positioning

In a fiercely competitive, fast-paced B2B landscape, establishing and maintaining a memorable brand identity is crucial.

Brand positioning is a strategic tool that helps businesses burn a distinct impression on the minds of customers. (Why do you think it’s called “brand”?) It is a marriage of art and science that should clearly define how a brand and, therefore, a business or product is perceived in the marketplace. As Einstein said, “Art and science are branches of the same tree”.

Brand positioning is far more involved than simply showcasing products or services. You must establish and effectively communicate a compelling value proposition that resonates with your audience, with the aim being to build meaningful and long-lasting relationships with new and existing customers.

In a crowded marketplace where consumers are inundated with countless options, a well-defined brand cuts through the clutter, enabling businesses to differentiate and be easily recognised. A brand should be a beacon for all marketing efforts, consistent and unwavering across all of today’s marketing platforms and channels.

Moreover, a strong brand position implies credibility. Instilling confidence in consumers and making them more likely to choose one brand over another. This competitive advantage can lead to increased market share, customer retention, and ultimately, higher profitability.

Brand positioning is not a one-time endeavour but an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and adaptation to keep up with evolving market trends and consumer preferences. By staying attuned to the changing landscape, brands remain relevant and maintain their competitive edge.

In short, brand positioning is a strategic cornerstone for any business seeking sustainable growth and success. It defines the essence of a brand, sets it apart from competitors, and communicates its unique value to consumers. By investing time and effort in crafting a compelling brand position, companies can create enduring emotional connections with their target audience and become an essential component of their customers' lives.

The importance of brand positioning cannot be overstated. That’s why it’s equally if not more important to stress how easily a good brand can be ruined.

Destroying a brand can happen quickly and the damage can be very difficult to reverse. The wonders of the digital age hold much promise for accelerated exposure but can with equal speed and ferocity reduce a brand's reputation to rubble. What was so diligently won can quickly be lost due to a poor customer experience, a perceived lack of transparency (“fool me once”), inconsistent messaging, competition, and many other variables. The warning “Here be dragons” applies now more than it did in medieval times.

That’s why, once established, maintaining a brand is so crucial. Recovering from a knock – or a crash in extreme cases - can be a long and often difficult process to address the issues, rebuild trust and consistently deliver on renewed promises. Prevention can be time-consuming, but it’s far less of a burden than the cure.

Look through the prism to find the light

The French marketing expert, Jean-Noël Kapferer, developed (no doubt being conscious of his own brand) the Kapferer Brand Identity Prism, which is a useful framework for understanding and managing brand identity. Kapferer identified six key facets of a brand's identity, each representing a different facet of the brand's personality and perception.

Brand managers or their external consultants can create and maintain a brand identity that resonates by using Kapferer’s prism to examine how their efforts and messaging will be perceived from varying angles that they may not be aware of. This level of preventive brand analysis, alignment and, if necessary, realignment is virtually essential to building a strong and meaningful brand in today’s marketplace.

The world of brand position rotates in a different way

The metrics used to position brands are evolving just as everything else is changing, too.

The rise of digital marketing and e-commerce has meant that traditional metrics are being complemented and sometimes replaced by far more precise, data-driven digital metrics. Online platforms and tools are now available to provide real-time data on customer behaviour, engagement, and conversion rates, enabling the user to make more informed decisions.

But despite all these new digital tools, as good as they are, there is an equally if not more important factor that has become apparent to anyone who is paying attention…

…. companies increasingly want partners rather than products.

Life is much easier and far more productive when you work with partners who share a common understanding, goals and work and sustainability work ethics. The products, as good as they may be, almost become secondary in terms of brand positioning. The best want to be seen with the best and good partnerships are a reflection on the brands of both parties. I would almost say that more data analysis is devoted to analysing and choosing partners than the markets or products these days.

So, how do you build a strong brand position?

The first thing a marketer must do is to understand the often very specific needs, preferences and personas that inhabit that target market space and align with their values and aspirations. This is not sycophancy or false empathy, it’s a genuine understanding of what is meaningful to them, which in turn directly informs what your marketing strategy will be to effectively reach them and, hopefully, persuade them to engage with your product or service.

Understanding your customers is based largely – assuming you’ve done your homework – on the data you have gathered in advance to define your goals for reaching that audience and, once you have, how you will nurture and grow it going forward. In short, define what success looks like to you, and your customers, with as much data-driven detail as possible before you even start.

Take a look around

What are your competitors doing? Analysing and fully understanding your competitors' strengths, weaknesses and market position – particularly as it relates to where you currently sit in that competitive hierarchy is absolutely essential. This can go a long way to helping you identify gaps where you can differentiate yourself from the pack, which brings us to…

Define what makes you different

If everyone in your sector is selling a widget, what makes your widget better, fast, stronger, cheaper or more attractive? Differentiation is essential and must be communicated through an unambiguous and compelling value proposition that lets customers know that you not only see and feel their customer points, but how your widget offers benefits that no other widget can. That’s a brand position you not only want to achieve but maintain.

Care even more about your reputation

Building a positive brand image and reputation is crucial. Trust, reliability, credibility, and customer satisfaction are part and parcel of how a brand is perceived by customers and stakeholders. Through consistent and effective messaging across various marketing channels, you can ensure that your brand’s values, benefits and competitive advantages enjoy a uniquely positive reputation in the market.

Demonstrate expertise and vision

Talk the talk to internal stakeholders, sure, but be sure to demonstrate your expertise to the outside world, too – specifically, your customers and prospects by sharing insights that are perceived to have genuine value. Use your industry knowledge to craft visions for the near and long-term future and publicise that expertise through speaking engagements, webinars, conference white paper presentations and many other personal content outlets to position you and your brand as the authoritative, go-to resource.

Make lots of friends, and stand by them

Developing and maintaining strong relationships with customers, suppliers and a wide range of industry influencers (i.e., business analysts and the trade media) can have a massive impact on positive brand positioning. Whenever possible and practical, collaborations, partnerships and endorsements from reputable people and organisations can substantially enhance a brand's credibility, which in turns vastly improves its ability to reach into new areas and new markets.  Even in a digital age (and we’re not dismissing digital media by any means) people ultimately do business with people they like to do business with or be seen to do business with. And don’t discount the halo effect of doing business with a reputable and respected brand. Just make sure the halo hovers around your brand.

The benefit of experience

Whatever you do, make that you have a well-understood and adhered to programme and structure in place to ensure that at every B2B customer touchpoint, the customer experience is a positive one. And I mean every – single – point. I emphasise this because ensuring consistency in the customer experience is as vital to your brand positioning as every other point made in this blog. Pleasant, helpful interactions, outstanding service and one-to-one support are all major factors in establishing a brand as a trusted and reliable partner.

Be fair with pricing, at all costs

No one likes getting ripped off, so without meaning to introduce a pun, avoid the perception of offering little or no value for money at all costs. Having said that, charge what you’re worth. Undercutting your competition by slashing your prices to the bone to win the business is very much like ripping someone off. Why? Because you’re not going to be in business very long. If (actually, when) you go bust, your customers are then left high and dry with no support, no option to resupply - if that’s what you’re offering - and no recourse for putting things right. This can be, and usually is, fatal to a brand. All you need to do is ensure that you’re a provide a great product or service at a fair, competitive price, whether it be discount, standard or premium. So long as the product or service meets the perceived value expected at that pricing level your brand positioning will be solid and largely unassailable.

Bring it on home

Establishing a brand position and – just as importantly – maintaining and, hopefully, enhancing it doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take a conscious and consistent effort to get it right. Start by doing your homework with the data you have gathered and use it to craft an informed and comprehensive marketing plan that ties directly into how you want to be perceived in the marketplace and the results you want to achieve as a result of that positioning. These two aspects are not mutually exclusive. The ability to establish a comfortable and positive brand image that is known and respected, not just in your own sector but often outside it, can ensure repeat business for many years to come. Experts in the field, such as B2B marketing agencies, have a vast amount of experience to enable you to greatly shorten the journey from pole position to a positive, enduring, reputation as a winner.

Conclusion

If you’ve got this far and absorbed nothing else, remember this: The customer experience is more important than acquiring them in the first place. You can’t, of course, neglect that latter. That’s largely what brand marketing is all about. But it is crucial to remember that their journey doesn’t stop there, and neither should yours. You should be engaging with customers at every possible level throughout their active lifecycle, rather than focusing solely on getting them inside the tent.

The show must go on. Make sure your show is the only one they want to see.


How to Define Your Goals for Your PR or Marketing Campaign

The need to clearly define marketing campaign goals is such a pervasive, and sometimes contentious, issue that many businesses will actively defer, or even avoid, it and “hope for the best”.

That approach will almost certainly doom such campaigns from the start. Uncertain goals deliver uncertain results that are probably less useful that not doing the campaign at all.

Basing subsequent business decisions on inaccurate conclusions about what “worked” in a campaign will result in a descending spiral of effectiveness, often coupled with an upward trend in costs. This is never a desirable outcome but, unfortunately, is more common than you might think in PR and other top-of-the-funnel marketing activities.

So, what can you do to ensure from the outset that your marketing campaign is focused on the audience you want to reach and will resonate as a solution to achieve their own business goals? The following is a logical, step-by-step process to help you define marketing campaign goals for your clients, as well as for your own business.

First, establish and share a clear understanding of your objectives. What is your target audience? What market position do you want to achieve (and ultimately maintain)? Who is your competition (it’s not always the obvious candidates)? There are a number of steps that are actually quite simple, but far too many organisations decide to skip – or ignore – some of the crucial ones. We don’t do that, and we recommend that you don’t either.

So, what are they? For your purposes, they will most likely be found in your answers to each of these questions.

What will motivate your target audience to consider your solution and your point of view?

If you can answer these two questions honestly and in substantial detail, it will give your marketing campaign the considered insights you need to define exactly what outcomes you expect before you even start. Such practices not only produce better results, they enable you to learn about what didn’t quite go to plan and recalibrate for the future. Without that, you’ll end up making the same mistakes again…

….and again.

One marketing campaign does not fit all

When it comes to defining goals, different types of marketing campaigns require different levels of information to inform the decision required to define those goals. Yes, reaching customers in different stages of the sales funnel requires differing levels of data. But irrespective of the level required to influence a specific stage of the customer journey, from gaining awareness to prompting action, start your campaign by gathering as much data as you can.

It’s important to remember that accumulating data is not, by itself, your “goal”. It is only the first step toward reaching your goal. The combination of data generation and analysis is the catalyst that drives the ability to identify an achievable goal as well as provide the signposts that will guide you to the most rewarding way of reaching it.

Finding that measurable data

There are different requirements for marketing campaigns when it comes to defining goals: campaigns that produce data easily as a result of what you do and those that don't produce actual measurable data.

Wherever you get your data from, it’s important to ensure that it’s meaningful, and by meaningful, I mean measurable rather “vanity” metrics. Otherwise, your decisions, and the actions taken as a result, will be more meaningless than meaningful.

Measurable metrics are objective, meaningful and accurate indicators of performance, progress, and effectiveness. They are essential for making data-driven decisions and evaluating the success of a campaign. Examples of success indicators can range from everything from increased revenue to customer satisfaction ratings and engagement levels.

Vanity metrics may catch the eye because they do exactly what the name implies, the sparkling numbers, however, skewed they may be, are designed to appeal to the vanity of the implementors.  Basically, the figures are designed to reinforce an already held belief but are rarely an accurate reflection of the effectiveness of a particular strategy. If you are measuring “success” solely on the number of social media clicks, web traffic volumes or page views, you’re only viewing a small part of a much bigger picture that contains vital information about what your customers really think about you, your product or your service.

Get specific

One thing we often see from companies looking to define marketing campaign goals is that the goals are too vague. “Increase sales” is an admirable and pretty common goal, but “Increase sales by 20% by the end of Q4” is a substantive and measurable target to aim at. Whether you do that through brand awareness, content marketing, influencer leverage or in combination, be as specific as you can on what you want to achieve based on the data you will have already gathered and analysed. This applies to any goal.

Don’t take the easy road

There are times when you are doing campaign research or implementing strategies that, by their nature or restrictive scope, don't return a broad range of data. Whatever you do (and this relates to vanity metrics) don’t just pluck out the data that’s easy to measure. For example, if you’re running a PR campaign, counting the number of clips – although important and easy to measure in isolation, it misses out a lot of crucial information about the sentiment shown to message and the influence/credibility of the publication that’s covering your company’s news.

A final thought about metrics

We’ve found that a good resource to determine your approach to metrics is the AMEC framework.  AMEC has lots of useful info on its site and fundamentally posits that the process is all about working backward from defining your business goals to calculate what you have to do to reach them. They also clearly examine the concept of “inputs” (what you do), “outputs” (the coverage achieved) and “outcomes” (how people change behaviour). It is this last one, behaviour change, that is the most useful for marketers but is traditionally the hardest to measure. In fact, many B2B companies can't afford to sustain a programme long enough to fully achieve this measurement as it typically occurs over a considerable amount of time. However, they are many other metrics and goals that can be achieved… so long as the data used to achieve them is intelligently gathered and resourcefully applied.

And now, a final thought

Thinking through, and I mean really thinking through precisely what you want to achieve with a campaign has a direct correlation to its ultimate success. Done correctly, defining your ultimate goal and establishing a roadmap to achieve it can have a profound impact on your business goals.

The key is to ensure you do the research to ensure you are thinking about your goals from the point of view of the audience you are trying to influence, rather than looking inward from your organisation's point of view.


Like All Good Stories, The B2B Marketing Journey has a Beginning, Middle and End

The B2B customer journey from awareness to purchase can be a long trip.

Or a short hop.

In either case, the B2B journey to the product or service you offer is guided to some degree by your own awareness of your prospective customers’ buying process. That includes everything from the fundamental nature of what you have to offer, the multiple personas you are offering those benefits to, and their preferred method of purchase.

What I mean by the latter is that some prefer to take the scenic route, where they luxuriate in the view and absorb what they learn along the way, continually gathering confidence that they’re making the right decision. Others prefer the historic route, looking to discover what others have experienced in previous interactions with your company, product or service. And still, others just want to take a decision and arrive at their destination as quickly as possible - although that approach can backfire as a false economy.

Whatever the case, B2B marketing that helps to guide a customer journey is far more intricate than it might first appear, and that’s largely because, when done well, the process is far more complex than many who would offer their advice (for a handsome fee) would have you believe.

In this blog, we’ll examine certain aspects of that complexity and demystify some of it.

It won’t cost you a penny. But understanding it will improve your sales success.

So what, exactly, is a “customer journey”?

At Napier, we define it as the experiences a customer has while moving from becoming aware of a product or service to becoming convinced that they need to purchase that product to the time the customer has no further need for the product.

You can’t just establish a brand and expect it to do all the hard work for you. And you can’t just pre-sell what you have to offer and expect it to sustain an ongoing business relationship.

A customer journey, at least an enduring and mutually beneficial one, can be long and potentially circuitous, but understanding that journey and how best to undertake it in every unique situation is the bedrock of B2B marketing.

Although certain principles apply throughout, it’s abundantly clear that one size does not fit all.

The funnel of love

Traditional sales funnel models are well-known, and often over analysed.

That said, they still exist in B2B marketing, and they all start with…

Awareness

It’s true. You can’t buy it if you don’t know about it. Awareness has to be the first marketing mantra. That’s why so much research, market testing, and product development takes place before you’ve ever heard of a new brand of facial tissue. The first impression must be a good one, and that requires a lot of research and insight to appeal to the personas you want to reach. You want awareness, but you want to be sure you get it for the right reasons.

That’s because if your potential customers become aware of you, your brand, and your product, with a well-planned marketing campaign they will develop an interest.

Use interest to drive customers down the B2B customer journey

If you’ve already managed to get on their radar through advertising, trade show participation, social media (both paid and organic!), Google ads, word of mouth, and many other avenues, you hope to capture – and hold – a prospective customer’s interest.

According to a 2020 report by Neilson Norman Group (as reported by Pragmatic Institute), you have approximately 10 seconds to communicate your value proposition to keep your prospect’s attention, and that can vary widely depending on the platform or media used to capture it. Whether it be LinkedIn posts, your website, content, personal visits or even TikTok, the adage remains the same: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Therefore, make it a good one.

Doing so can often shorten the buying journey, reducing the meandering that might otherwise divert your customer’s journey to your door.

But making a favourable first impression isn’t the end game. It is only the first step, and it only buys you a bit more time, and even then, not much of it. According to the Neilson Norman Group study, a good first ten seconds buys you another 20 seconds to make your case.

So be prepared to make those 30 seconds in total count. Make sure they know who you are, what you do, and why they should select you and your product or service before they choose one of your competitors, do it themselves, or do absolutely nothing.

Remember, your prospective customer always has a choice. You have 30 seconds, max, to convince them you might be the one.

Sizing up

In truth, customer journeys are long, require multiple touchpoints, and dedicated activity. Simple lead nurturing is not enough, and the evaluation stage can be extensive and gruelling, with multiple opportunities to build your case, or see it collapse.

This typical ‘middle’ stage can be difficult to manage and is heavily dependent on the customer. Putting in the ‘grunt’ work is vital to this stage, and mapping out your journey and tactics could be the difference between the close of a sale or leaving one out in the cold.  There’s no ‘right way’ to approach this middle stage, but it should be approached with the degree of flexibility you judge to be appropriate, based on the personas you are targeting.

If you’ve reached this stage, you’ve made it past the threshold and managed to get in front of your customer. The goal now is to stay there long enough to fully make your case, all in the face of interested, but intense, scrutiny.

Brass tacks

So, you got in front of the right people, made your case. and provisionally reached agreement. It’s looking good, When you’ve made it this far it’s tempting to reach for the champagne.

Not so fast. All you’ve done is succeed long enough to start the discussion on what it is all going to cost, both for you to deliver your product or service and for your prospective customer to purchase and maintain that product or service.

The wheels can still come off. They have not yet signed the cheque. It’s your job to guide their hand.

To do that, it’s important to know exactly what it will cost you to deliver your goods. Too many B2B marketers, giddy with the excitement of having ‘won’ the business, price themselves too low, sometimes even being the lowest – by some distance - of those bidding on a project.

This is a bad, very bad, idea and savvy prospective customers will instantly know that you are only ‘cost effective’ because you are going to go bust trying to deliver what you’ve promised at such a low price. That would leave your customer stranded with no service, no support, no spare parts and no recourse should things go wrong. Better to look to another provider with demonstrable evidence that they can support what they’ve promised.

Arriving at a realistic transactional price is one of the most prized negotiation skills in the B2B marketing canon and should be treated with the reverence it deserves. It’s soul destroying to get to that point of the customer journey only to find that here is no ‘there’ there… at least not at the price you need to charge to deliver, and make a profit. Your customer’s destination should be a lush and comfortable oasis for both of you, not a mirage that hides a stagnant, dying pond.

Sealing the deal

So, you’ve arrived at a price that is affordable and profitable for both parties. Now is the time to mark the occasion, but not with a bottle, a handshake or a photo – at least not quite yet.

The first order of business is for a payment to take place. Someone has to let go of some money, even if it’s just a token payment.

Each customer journey is different, but they all require the assured movement that comes with experience, integrity and due diligence, irrespective of the length of the actual journey.

Concluding that part of the journey with an exchange of funds is satisfying and promotes additional confidence that the path is the right one. However, the journey continues…

The delight stage of the B2B Customer Journey

Once you’ve made a sale, enjoyed success, and built momentum, the next step on the customer journey is to sustain the relationship. Service and support are vital components of the B2B customer journey and start the moment a product is purchased, or a service is agreed upon and rendered. What happens after a sale or agreement is not an afterthought, but an integral component of what you hope will be an ongoing program or repeat purchase.

Keeping a flame alive is achieved by investing the time and expertise required to replenish what fuels it, and that can be expanding the business relationship into new areas (account-based marketing); growing the number of standard devices being used throughout a facility; or keeping the client informed about, and encouraged to, follow upgrade paths as new products, services, and techniques become available.

This all goes back to revisiting what made the original relationship so appealing in the first place. The customer had a need that you were able to fill. If you’ve done your part to maintain the relationship in the ensuing years, your customer will develop new needs that you may also be able to fill as you grow together over time.

It is these long-term relationships that are the ultimate aim of B2B marketing. Despite the variable lengths and complexities of the journey, a professionally examined sales funnel never gets stuck, clogged, or overfilled. It is a conduit, graphically depicting the supply of the right product or service at the right time with, don’t forget, the right level of expertise to sell, service, and support it over the long term if desired.

The business relationship may, and probably will, end one day, but the sense of customer satisfaction will remain – and give rise to new customer journeys based on that perception alone, which is why it is so important to understand, and get right.

The customer journey is paved with good intentions, but touch points are the signposts that show the way

We all set out to do our best for our customers and guide their path, but in our enthusiasm sometimes overlook some of the most important parts required to help them move from interest to purchase.

There are numerous touchpoints, not all of them necessary in every case but all equally important when they apply. The following are the most common:

Triggers – Something will set off a prospective buyer to make a purchase. This can be a result of desire, need, happenstance or, in some cases, serendipity. Being in the right place at the right time - and having the confidence to recognise a mutual opportunity and seize the moment - can set the tone for an entire journey. If you’re lucky, these touchpoints can sometimes ignite.

Steps – Contrary to popular belief, the touch point stages of the typical customer journey are not linear. That’s largely because so many decisions are made by individuals who are buffeted by potential influencers along the way, each of which is yet another secondary touch point that has the potential to change the course of that buying decision at almost any stage.

A seemingly simple matter of buying, for example, a garden tractor will be heavily influenced by the nature of the desire. Is it for a small or large garden? Is it to maintain rough, cultivated, or manicured turf? Should it have options for additional mechanical apparatus as attachments? Is money an object? The answers to each of those questions – and many more - have so many variants that can keep a journey to buying your garden tractor on track - or derail it entirely. Your sensitivity to those touch-point variables and the way you nurture the B2B relationship through them will influence which of those paths your customer takes.

Key players

The key players in a B2B customer journey are less likely to be individuals and more likely to be part of a decision-making unit or buying committee. Both of those mean that you now have more than one touch point to influence and each of them - despite being on the same ’team‘ - will have different values and areas of interest that need to be appealed to. When they ask questions, they will want them to be satisfactorily answered in a way that addresses their needs.

You, therefore, need to be able to consider multiple angles outside your straight-up value proposition, recognising that what will be of value to the finance director may be of little or no value to the operator.

Buying style

People are different (go figure) and have different buying styles. To be successful, develop a sense of how to ensure that your substance appeals to your customer’s style. Each persona is a touch point that may have pre-existing preferences, i.e., they believe they know what they want and who they want to buy from (and if it’s you, you want to be sure it remains you).

On the other hand, do you know if they are open to any vendor that meets their criteria? Are they ‘certain‘ about what they want, or can they be influenced? Moreover, do they strongly believe they know what they want, but do they actually know what they need? The former may be the case in some instances, but guiding them toward the latter is where B2B marketing skill benefits both parties. Shining a light down a road previously untravelled will hopefully illuminate the one that leads to your warehouse door.

Value drivers of B2B customer journeys

What you value is not necessarily what is the real value proposition for a customer. You may love the fact that your electronic vehicle can get 300 miles on a single charge, but your customer may be more impressed by its lack of carbon emissions, and still another customer may be charmed by its powder blue interior.

It’s about being attuned to those differences and identifying what is actually driving a purchase decision - which may very well be something you had not considered - and appealing to that value with evidence that backs your proposition.

B2B buying concerns

Still, it’s a fact that B2B business customers won’t always buy from you, even if what you have proposed offers them very good value. They may decide that a longer, more circuitous route to get to where they want to be is, if not better value, at least comfortable and well-trodden territory. It is that comfort zone that may ultimately be of more perceived value to them than a demonstrably competitive product/solution from a new vendor, which may have been you. It is therefore important to assuage such concerns from the start by presenting a well thought out road to purchase, installation, commissioning and ongoing support that feels familiar and comfortable. It is quite surprising how many manufacturers and vendors fall victim to believing that the benefits of their product or service will be so readily apparent that a quick decision in their favour will be forthcoming, despite little or no effort to understand or satisfactorily address any concerns a buyer might have. Confidence in a product or service is admirable, and a vital part of the B2B marketing mix, but overconfidence, bordering on arrogance, can be a cold and steely deal breaker that catches many B2B marketers unawares.

There are no shortcuts

The path of a customer journey may not always be a direct one, nor may it be easy. Sometimes it’s long. Sometimes it’s short. But no matter what course it takes, it’s important to reiterate (so we will, again) that there is no one ’right‘ way to map it out. However, there are many ways to get it wrong, usually by neglecting to gain an understanding of the fundamental parts of the customer journey. The very fact that customer journeys differ is, ironically, what is consistent among them.

Take the time to build your customer journey

If we can leave you with anything, it is this: Think about the customer journey. Devote time, care, and attention to putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, both for the near term and the long haul.

Do extensive homework to make sure you fully understand where your customer wants to be and how you can help them avoid the roadblocks they will surely encounter along the way if they do it without your help.

Investing in this homework upfront will help you remember that B2B journeys- of any length are often complex. That potential for complexity – with many variant factors being introduced into the marketing mix on the way to a single sale or long-term contract – means that in certain cases it might be a better option to divide the overall journey into smaller, bite-size micro journeys that can be achieved, savoured, and learnt from to make the next stage smoother and even more rewarding.

This approach also helps ensure that you take into account the different personas that will have a stake, not only in the outcome but in the longer-term service and support for the account.

You do this by keeping a close on opportunities, as well as missed ones, that can be analysed, assessed and, if necessary, repaired or improved, thus securing customer satisfaction and an ingrained desire to do business again in a way that promotes the good business fortunes of all parties.

Remember, your customer’s journey is ultimately going to determine yours.

Make sure it’s a good one.


Digital Marketing Trends 2023

David Cunningham, Account Manager at Napier, shares his insights and outlook on what digital marketing trends marketers can expect to see in 2023, and how these will shape the future of digital marketing. 

Digital marketing is transforming our business and personal lives.

Just ask any artificially intelligent device, service or programme.

But will the intelligent assistance currently rendered by the like of Google Analytics, Mailchimp and Hootsuite give way to a new wave of artificial intelligence (AI) that we’ve not yet envisaged that will forever change our living and working landscapes… again.

Don’t bet against digital marketing taking on new forms. The evolution of digital marketing, account-based marketing, automated marketing and the increasingly ubiquitous nature of podcasting for education, insight and entertainment is only just beginning and is set to grow exponentially.

From the birth of cool to the future of digital marketing

From the time we are born, our preferences are shaped by exposure. In a pre-digital age, this was largely by happenstance. When the ice cream van arrived in your neighbourhood, its cheery jingle from three streets away meant only one thing, it would soon be in front of your house and, mum and dad willing, you were going to have a good day.

It wasn’t digital marketing. But you could argue that it was a primitive form of account-based marketing, i.e., providing new and improved products and services (flavours!) to an existing fan base. The person who composed the ice cream jingle – and the company that owned and operated the van – knew that it would trigger a response in a market that it already had. The aim was, this time, to attract little brother, sister, neighbour, cousin (and more than a few grownups) and make an improved clutch of sales.

Moreover, by following the same route most days at approximately the same time, an expectation grew, and a loyal following developed, which is today replicated in digital marketing with regular, compelling content that makes the consumer crave more.

Ice cream van jingles worked. They still do. And in digital marketing in 2023, the modern-day equivalents of a catchy jingle work even better. The vast amount of data gathered by individual sales that is subsequently fed into automated marketing algorithms that can now anticipate how many children will be on each street corner, what time, what their favourite flavours are and – in 2023 and beyond – what kind of car they are likely to favour when they’re old enough to drive, what trainers their teenagers will prefer, and what their grandchildren’s favourite video game will be.

It really is becoming that sophisticated. Modern-day digital marketers know this, but many organisations are too often deterred by what they perceive as complexity when, in reality, AI-based marketing tools and the applications that run on them can do much of their marketing job for them.

The difference between intuition and intelligence

Intuition and intelligence will continue to have their place, but in 2023, human intuition will be marginally more likely to get it wrong. That’s because there’s nothing digital about intuition. Facts are facts. Data is data. Intuition, on the other hand, has been and will always be an educated guess. A satisfying and often prescient guess to be sure, but always with an element of chance.

Digital marketing, AI and account-based marketing on the other hand not only leave less to chance, but in 2023 will break new ground in their respective – and collective when working together - ability to embolden senior decision makers to rely on signposts to the way forward that will be clearly demarked by digital marketing surveys and results. Online surveys have become much easier to develop and deploy, and the results more precisely targeted and, therefore, useful.

AI hogs the attention because it’s what often creates it

AI receives a great deal of attention, and rightly so. (It’s also probably aware that it’s getting it.) The almost limitless abilities of AI to substantially improve everyday lives, corporate profitability and the environmental sustainability of both is unquestionable and will continue to gather pace as it sweeps the globe, partly out of economic need, partly for the common good, but mostly out of global necessity.

For example, AI-based sensors can already pre-empt forest fires by using their existing knowledge and predictive abilities to alert authorities to condition changes.

Frictionless, i.e., contactless shopping is already taking root in many urban areas around the world, using AI-based sensors to track patrons and what they pluck from a shelf or a rack, debiting their accounts as they walk out the door.

Such devices also substantially reduce the age-old problem of theft, which we all ultimately pay for through higher prices and insurance premiums. AI in isolation may not reverse the rise of inflation, but it will almost certainly help to slow it’s advance. Retail marketers – digital and otherwise - take note. AI is your friend, and that of your customers.

A separate but no less profound trend is the accelerating ability of AI and machine learning (ML) to replicate everything from artwork to written text and, in some cases, deep fake humans at levels that are disconcerting. Not only does this beg the question of what is “real”, but perhaps more importantly, who ultimately “owns” what is produced. Current laws around the world are still somewhat vague about how to determine if an AI-generated piece of art that closely replicates the style of a well-known, real-life artist can be determined as original, or plagiarism. Although, digital marketing in 2023, will continue to advance as a field of study and highly respected profession, “digital detective” will become a rapidly growing field of employment, too.

One thing AI, ML, and the advantages its digital marketing counterparts will not slow, despite their ability to reinvent end enhance new brick and mortar retail experiences, is e-commerce.

E-commerce – the elephant in the 2023 digital room

With its almost limitless potential, e-commerce will continue to evolve in ways that will make it easier than ever to find – and anticipate – what you want and, occasionally, make you aware instead of what you actually need. Anonymised data about your browsing and spending habits will further permeate the digital landscape and enhance the opportunities presented to learn more, consume more, and, importantly, conserve more.

The need for conservation and, by default, sustainability will continue to be a major focus across the digital landscape. It can be argued that the large server farms that underpin the digital connectivity we take for granted are themselves huge energy consumers, but it can be equally argued that the intelligence and techniques they are enabling drive smaller and more efficient devices, processes and products are more than offsetting the energy consumed to power them. The energy- consumed-to-benefits-gained balance will steadily tip in the direction of benefits gained, in part because the server farms are themselves devising new ways to increase their efficiency.

So, how will this affect B2B companies that have fully understood and embraced – or not - digital marketing as their bread and butter? What’s in store for them in 2023? Let’s have a look.

What does data mean to digital marketers in 2023? Pretty much everything.

The acquisition of data – lots of it - is more important to businesses than ever. However, the way that data is gathered and stored has changed due to the introduction of new privacy laws around the world.

What that means for digital marketers in 2023 is that their clients and employers will be even more insistent about asking those responsible to gather and analyse data within the legal restrictions and guidelines set out in multiple regions. This means that a boost to investment in CRM systems and associated databases will be required or, at the very least, a refocussed budget to help drive high-quality marketing programs that will need to focus more on strategy than the mechanics of delivery. The increase in costs to do so will be readily born by some, but for others, it will be a purchase order too far. To remain competitive and deliver the expected results, higher and more detailed data gathering, and the resources devoted to it, should be factored into the overall cost of doing business before launching a campaign rather than as an add-on, which can often prove too little, too late.

Security – a greater focus for digital marketing in 2023

Because of data’s increasing value and importance, it will be no surprise that maintaining its security will be an even greater focus in 2023. I can’t emphasise this enough, legislation surrounding data privacy is increasing rapidly, and for good reason. Companies are using data privacy to gain competitive advantage because the best way for them to achieve and expand on their Sales and Marketing successes is through good databases. But to do that, “data hygiene” must be practised, which ensures “clean”, up-to-date databases. Ageing databases are a real problem, not only because the data becomes increasingly bad as it ages, it also becomes more vulnerable to theft and/or attack.

Email marketing in 2023: It’s not spam. It’s the new marketing genius

It will be no surprise to anyone that one of the great success stories of digital marketing, email marketing, will continue its rise as part of the key marketing trends in 2023.

Email marketing has proven to be one of the most effective ways of generating qualified leads for new product or service launches, and ultimately closing sales, and it will continue to thrive. Moreover, new automation techniques enable these messages to be sequenced far more effectively and be more finely tuned to specific personas.

One of the primary reasons email remains a highly effective digital marketing tool is that almost everyone has at least one email address, and many have several, which makes it far more likely that an email from a brand name - new or existing - will land in at least one inbox with a message that will resonate with the recipient. That’s because at some point, the recipient has shown some degree of interest in that brand, its product, or that of an affiliate. The algorithmic techniques used to refine those targeted emails are improving all the time and digital marketing firms will do well to invest the time and budget necessary to ensure they stay up to date with the latest developments and evaluate how they may/may not benefit specific clients.

But whether its email or any other kind of electronic marketing, it’s almost entirely useless without content.

Royal content- a fundamental marketing trend in 2023

Content will continue to be king in 2023, and the creativity required to generate compelling content will be equally regal. Although we have already seen that AI can be used to approximate the work of great masters of art and literature, it is not (yet) capable of original thought. Digital content must be compelling to stand out in the face of increasingly abundant competition. This has always been the case in the analogue world, but an almost infinite amount of competition in the digital world means that creativity has never seen such a high premium. Every single piece of content you generate for a client has to not only get noticed on multiple channels and platforms but be engaging enough to compel an action by the recipient on each of those platforms often, in the digital world, in real-time. Therefore, consistent and highly targeted campaigns must in a sense be transcoded from an analogue idea to a digitally delivered counterpart. This is an art form in which human beings remain superior, so long as they can translate their ideas and calls to action to the rapid return expected in the digital realm. 2023 offers immense opportunities for creatives, as long as they are operating in an environment that nurtures and encourages such talent.

Much of the challenge for digital marketers’ centres on the fact that consumers now, more than ever, expect to receive everything the day before yesterday. In metaphorical terms when they hand back the menu over their right shoulder, they expect the surf and turf platter (with veggies) to descend onto the placemat in front of them over their left. However, real-time digital messaging platforms can reach customers and collect their data (aka, their order and preferences) very quickly indeed, which is highly valuable to digital marketers because they can make better, and faster use of that data. Moreover, by storing that data, the next interaction with that customer will be even faster and more targeted to their preferences.

In 2023, influencers will gain… more influence, but beware.

Although brand managers and digital marketers are keen to make even more use of influencer marketing, they must be increasingly careful as to whom is unleashed on TikTok, Instagram or YouTube on their behalf. Careful thought must be given to whom to collaborate with, if at all. A brand can take years to build, and influencers can strengthen that brand to unprecedented levels. TikTok and Instagram are not currently seen to be particularly effective in B2B marketing campaigns, although this could change as the digital landscape, especially within B2B, continues to evolve.

It’s true that brands may benefit from certain associations, but they can also be swiftly devastated by the wrong ones. The reward for the right kind of associations and endorsements – real or implied – on such platforms may show signs of increasing relevance in 2023, but so will the risk. In other words, if you go that route, be especially careful of the company you keep on those platforms.

Digital customers in 2023: I want it all, and I want it now

When I say that consumers want it now, what I’m referring to is what sociologists refer to as instant gratification. What was “good enough” in 2022 will not be acceptable in 2023. Digital customers are in the driving seat and if they want you to turn left, you need to be trusted to do it with precision. A split-second delay or diversion and your customer will be off to another supplier who they feel has credibility, understands their business and respects their wishes. That means that you must not just react but, rather, anticipate such requests, often based on historical behaviour predicted by the data you have already stored, to get your offering off the mark that much quicker than your competitors. AI and ML can help with that a lot, but it’s the digital marketers who must establish the precedence and clear the path to closing the deal.

Using External Specialists for Digital Marketing

Outsourcing digital marketing services will be an increasingly attractive option in 2023. Not everyone has the staff and the expertise to do it in-house and stay within the resources available to them. That’s where the benefits of outsourcing digital marketing services become even more attractive. With multiple digital platforms to address to be cost-effective, external specialists will have the modern digital business tools necessary to deliver across most, if not all of them.

Preparatevi a essere internazionali

Although the majority of online content is presented in English, multilingual content creation is flourishing. The exponential growth and accuracy of machine translation (MT) are gaining a great deal of traction with digital marketers because it marries advanced technology with the skills of native language translators to produce content that more accurately represents the marketing message in local languages rather than get it embarrassingly wrong. For many companies, the global market has always been such, but business was largely conducted in English (Britain’s greatest export). That will remain the case for many interactions, but in the digital domain, 2023 will see far more translations to/from local and regional languages than had ever been possible before. A metaphoric Tower of Babel may return, but it will be a compelling attraction for marketing, consisting of truth, accuracy and compelling messages rather than a mythical mountain of hopeless miscommunication.

Digital Marketing and Messaging: The cost of living

From a practical standpoint, digital marketers will need to recalibrate their messaging to account for the challenges posed by fluctuations in the cost of not only doing business but in their customers’ cost of living.

Messaging strategies must therefore be sensitive to these economic realities and take steps to ensure that what they’re saying is relevant and will resonate in a positive way. It also means being more sensitive to trends that result from near- and longer-term cost-of-living anomalies. Digital marketing offers exceptional flexibility for skilled specialists to put their digital tools to good use for their customers and prospects and, hopefully, simultaneously help them deal more effectively with uncertain times.

Will platforms remain the same?

Media platforms, particularly social ones, will change a great deal in 2023. The balance will increasingly shift from tools typically used for personal visibility to becoming significantly more useful for business in terms of relevance and even more precise ad targeting.

For example, recent upheavals at Twitter clearly illustrated that users will not hesitate to wrestle back control of their content and data for use on other platforms.

It is all but certain that new media platforms will soon emerge that – if not sweep away all that came before – substantially diminish them in scope and importance. Who remembers Altavista? Yes, MySpace is still around, but is little more than a music sharing hotel lounge.

The point for digital marketers is to be on the lookout for these new platforms and devote resources to assessing their near-and long-term potential for clients. It’s not about chasing after the next big rainmaker (or even creating it) but being conscious that they will inevitably arrive, and soon.

Video marketing in 2023: Ready for your close-up?

Consumers like video. Actually, that’s incorrect. They love video, and if you don’t already, you need to love it, too.

The reason is that video has a way of connecting that is immediate and engaging. Despite the preponderance of AI, ML and the like, people still buy from people. More importantly, they buy from people they can relate to.

While an e-commerce platform or contactless retail outlet may actually handle a transaction, the recommendation or “how to” that drives a consumer to a certain product or service is often delivered over video. It is therefore incumbent for digital marketers to improve their video production standards and, if they do not have the capabilities in-house, work with outside agencies that have a track record of producing likes at the very least. Demonstrably increased sales figures, even better.

And it’s not a one and done proposition. Successful campaigns are built on multiple exposure to multiple pieces of relevant content on multiple platforms. That’s why the content must compel visitors to a site or platform and leave them eager to experience the next “chapter” in a narrative.

What does digital marketing look like in 2023?

Digital marketing in 2023 will be far less about the number of followers your organisation has and far more about having the “right” kind of followers. It’s an age-old trade show cliché, but as with most cliches, there’s a wisp of truth in it. “It’s not the number of visitors. It’s the quality”.

And quality visitors to a digital marketing campaign are drawn by and will return to, quality content. That’s where you get to the customers that matter.

Of course, they all matter. But some matter more than others.

In 2023, use your data to make sure you know which is which, and that you have the right tools to exploit them.

 


Napier Shortlisted for the 2022 Electronics Industry Awards and Instrumentation Excellence Awards!

Napier has been shortlisted for the 2022 Electronics Industry Awards and Instrumentation Excellence Awards!

We are delighted to announce that Napier has again been shortlisted for the Electronics Industry Awards (EIA) in the ‘Most Outstanding PR Agency’ award category. We are equally thrilled to also be shortlisted for the Instrumentation Excellence Awards, a brand new award for the industry, in the category of ‘PR Agency of the Year’.

This is not the first time we’ve been shortlisted for EIA’s Most Outstanding PR Agency award but every acknowledgement is deeply gratifying and very important to us. We love the work we do, and strive to create, develop and implement winning campaigns for our clients.

Voting for the Electronics Industry Awards is now open, and we humbly ask that you spare a few seconds - right now – to vote for us here.

The inaugural Instrumentation Excellence Awards ceremony will take place in parallel with the Electronics Industry Awards on Thursday 27th October at the Grand Connaught Rooms, Covent Garden.

Voting is also open for the Instrumentation Excellence Awards, and you can cast your vote here.

We appreciate your support!


Napier Passes 2022 PRCA CMS Accreditation

We are thrilled to share that we have passed our annual PR Consultants Association (PRCA) Communications Management Standard (CMS) audit for 2022.

Having previously received the CMS Gold logo in 2021 as recognition of Napier holding the PRCA CMS accreditation for 10 consecutive years, this year’s accreditation is further testament to the foresight and professionalism of Napier’s management, staff and support teams worldwide. It is also clear evidence of our commitment to best practice methodologies for business development, personal and professional growth, and client campaign management – all of which are particularly gratifying given that much of it took place in the face of the lingering challenges posed by the outbreak of the global pandemic.

This is yet another outstanding achievement for the Napier team, with additional acknowledgement to our clients for helping make it all possible. Congratulations and thanks to the whole Napier team!