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Hybrid working is the norm. But what does that mean for B2B Marketing?

bigstock-Videoconference-Online-Meetin-413791955-jpgBusiness has changed. And that’s because where we do business has changed. We’ve transitioned from in-office, to remote, to a new hybrid model of working.

This has affected the B2B advertising market. Traditional B2B marketing tended to revolve around a lot of cold calling, cold emailing, events and in-person networking. While buying decisions often relied on sign-off from – if we’re honest – a disproportionately large number of stakeholders.

It was hard enough to reach decision makers at the best of times. Today, that challenge has ramped up a notch or three. Few buyers are going to want to meet in person. And precisely no one’s going to pick up a landline.

It’s no wonder marketers are rethinking their tactics.

Reinventing work for the better

But that’s not to say hybrid working is a bad thing. Quite the opposite. If anything, it has given workplace productivity a well-deserved lift. Data from the ONS earlier this year revealed that 41% of businesses cite increased productivity as a reason they’ve adopted hybrid working on a more permanent basis.

But what about all those interruptions that come with working from home? A recent study placed kids as the number one distraction for home workers (14%). Other diversions include aimless scrolling (12%); texting friends, gaming or looking for another job (8%); and looking at dating apps or social media (7%).

But a spot of procrastination never did anyone any harm, right? Rather, it allows workers to gather their thoughts, so when they do get on with the job at hand, what they deliver is more considered.

Of course, an office environment comes with its own set of distractions. And for some, these can be more disruptive than those at home. According to one survey, home workers report saving themselves 30 minutes by not chatting to colleagues about non-work-related issues. They also report spending 7% less time talking to management.

Hybrid working has put a spring in our step. A better work-life balance has meant employees have been able to focus on their mental and physical health – having more time to exercise and think about their wellbeing.

And that’s always going to make for a happier, healthier workforce.

How B2B marketing has changed

But there is a downside. This shift hasn’t just impacted the way we work, it’s also made its mark on the B2B buying process.

And when we say ‘made its mark’, what we actually mean is it’s ‘made B2B selling significantly harder’.

To a larger extent, many decision makers don’t actually want to talk to sales people anymore. According to research, just 29% of people are happy speaking with a sales person to learn more about a product or service. There’s an argument that says they never really wanted to speak to them in the first place, but we’re getting off the point…

Rather than meeting with suppliers, buyers would much rather make their own enquiries. Figures from Gartner show that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase, 17% of their time is spent meeting potential suppliers, while 45% is spent doing independent research (27% online and 18% offline).

With the average B2B sales cycle lasting around 84 days, that’s plenty of time for marketers to get their ducks in a row.


The journey is just beginning

The twists and turns of the customer journey are felt far and wide. B2B buyers are experiencing a similar cycle to consumers. Namely: identifying a problem, researching online, trying to find the solution, finding products that are the solution, researching those, and then finally reaching out to those companies.

Which leaves B2B marketers wondering where they fit into all this.

A good start is making sure the buyer has plenty of content to consider - 95% of buyers select a company that provides them with lots of content. Hungry for content, LinkedIn and blogs play a crucial role in today’s B2B buying process. And while social media only plays a part some of the time, 22% of people pose questions to social media sites as part of their research journey. 

What you’re after is well-written, informative content that is seen by buyers as educational rather than salesy. 68% of customers feel more confident after consuming content and nearly 82% of buyers viewed between five and eight pieces of content from a winning vendor. Why? Because knowledge (in the form of insightful content) is power.

Getting your content out there

When it comes to B2B advertising, you always need a bit of push and pull. Keeping your company name out there so customers can discover the brand, at the same time as placing promotional material about your product or service in front of your customers when they’re close to making a decision.

Which, of course, is easier said than done. But adapting your advertising tactics alongside the new hybrid model of working helps your brand stay front of mind for your audience.

For instance, contextually relevant news and business sites are a great place to host content for the home worker. That’s because even though larger companies may block access to social media, news sites and online magazines remain largely accessible.

Branded content in particular helps you meet customers where they are. Whatever their favoured methods of research or wherever they are in the funnel, you can get exactly the right messaging out at the right time.

From snappy news stories that act as a nudge, to long-form content that gives you the space to describe complex products and solutions, it’s time to make more traditional online environments your brand’s new home.