Recently I attended a local business-to-business networking group with members from throughout the Greater Richmond Virginia area.
During this event we had a guest speaker, Dr. Kenneth B. Kahn, Director of the VCU Da Vinci Center visit to talk about innovation.
He clearly defined innovation as: the creation of new or improved products, ideas, processes, or services, which are developed and marketed. Innovation differs from invention in that invention focuses on the manufacturing of a product whereas innovation is based around new ideas and creativity.
When it comes to innovative marketing ideas, we’re usually trying to come up with high-tech things that will bring us more attention and customers.
Let’s take a look at five innovative marketing ideas for connecting with your market and growing your B2B:
- Invent a New Market Segment – It’s all about—planting seeds of perception—positioning your product or service at the “logical extreme” of your product or service category. For example, B2B companies creating disruptive technologies are heavily funded for Research & Development, but those that position themselves to be TOP (top-of-mind) in that market segment will win.
- Create a Sales Network to Replace Your Sales Funnel. – There are thousands of ways out of the B2B Sales Funnel, and today’s market clutter makes it expensive to locate new prospects. So create products and services that are so remarkable that existing customers can’t wait to talk about them. And if you back up your great products and services with great content, they will talk, share, and link to it.
- Market to the Laggards or the Early Adopters. – B2B marketing involves diverse buyers, long sales cycles, and many touch points and impressions to eventually lead to sales. If your marketing confidently educates uninformed prospects (the laggards) or comfortably persuades smart prospects (the early adopters) that you have what they need, they will trust you. For example, “no one ever got fired for buying Cisco.”
- Create a Story That Shows How You’re Different – This may sound fairy tellish in the B2B space, but storytelling is paramount for B2B companies to stand out in today’s marketing clutter. A compelling story that demonstrates how your offer is different and better from the rest of the market provides your brand a platform to “earn” the right to sell. Have peek at SAP.com. They do a fantastic job of creating engaging business stories.
- Sell the Story Rather Than the Service – Business people tend to believe they make “logical” decisions. That’s only partly true because business people are also human. When a story is so compelling, we buy in to it whole-heartedly. Intel, for example, doesn’t sell to consumers, yet their brand story is so compelling that consumers seek out computers with Intel Inside.
Companies like Google, Apple, Cisco and IBM have been doing this kind of marketing, I’m mentioning above for many years now. Study them.
They are not only participating in the conversations, they are also leading them in an industry where thought leadership is so important and where differentiation is difficult, these 5 marketing ideas provide an avenue for B2B companies to stand out from the competition, educate and inform prospects and clients.
About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the marketing consultant to call when you want GROWTH and SALES … not just words.. He is also an advisor and featured marketing contributor to American Express Open Forum and has been named a marketing thought leader for small businesses.