6 Essential Tips for Marketing to Enterprise Customers
Marketing for any company is never a one-size-fits-all proposition. B2C and B2B marketers typically take vastly different approaches to reaching and engaging their target audiences. But companies that market to enterprise customers need to step it up another notch or two with a clear strategic plan that adequately addresses the needs of the enterprise audience and a clear path to achieving objectives.
According to 2011 U.S. Census data, there are more than 24,000 enterprises in the United States. Educational, health care, and social assistance services make up the largest portion of enterprises, with more than 5,000 such enterprises in the U.S. A close second, there are more than 4,000 manufacturing enterprises in the U.S., followed by accommodation and food services with nearly 2,900 enterprises in these verticals. Here’s how to reach those valuable enterprise customers with effective marketing.
1. Refine Your Positioning
All successful marketing is built on the understanding of your target audience; marketing to enterprise customers is no exception. The starting point is understanding how the enterprise customer differs from SMBs, and their pain points are often vastly different.
Define your positioning (your product marketing strategy) within the context of your target enterprise audience. According to Grant Shirk in an article at Box.com, your positioning should include:
- Your customer. Who is your product (or service) for?
- Your benefit to the customer. How does your product/service fit into their current world?
- Key differentiators. How is your product/service different from the rest?
2. Focus on Relationships
Enterprise marketing is about establishing and nurturing relationships, as your sales team will eventually have to engage with several people at an enterprise who weigh in on purchase decisions. It doesn’t matter that the company is an enterprise; ultimately, the people making buying decisions and signing contracts are buying from your people – not your business.
3. Establish Use Cases
Enterprise marketers who fail to establish use cases, similar to buyer personas, are planning to fail. Enterprise customers often have multiple stakeholders or roles that will benefit from the use of your products or services, but in different ways.
You can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach and educate the enterprise audience on the benefits of your products or services and expect to engage various disciplines who may have drastically different motivations. While it’s vital to identify the decision-maker, you also must address the needs of the people who benefit from the company’s buying decisions on a day-to-day basis.
4. Articulate Your Value Proposition with Concise Messaging
Startup founders and small business owners understand the chaos of wearing multiple hats. But just because enterprises have the luxury of dedicated professionals focused on precise roles doesn’t mean that the decision-makers you’re marketing to are any less busy. Keep your message short and concise, clearly conveying the value that your enterprise customers gain from working with your company.
“If they can’t walk away and clearly say, ‘This company helps X do Y,’ then the message is lost,” Allison Engel, Head of Global Marketing and Operations for Dell for Entrepreneurs, explains in an article for Entrepreneur.
5. Be Sensitive to the Enterprise Transition
When you’re marketing to SMBs, a department may consist of a single person. An investment in new software or services may impact only a handful of employees directly, making transitions – while still a change that must be managed – a bit less of a hurdle for smaller companies. Enterprises considering such transitions are often faced with training hundreds or thousands of employees how to use a new application or embrace a new process.
The more sensitive you are to enterprise change management obstacles, the more effective your marketing. In fact, Angela Leavitt suggests “well-thought-out transition plan right up front,” in an article for Mojo Marketing. “Establish yourself as a partner, not just a supplier.”
6. Help Decision Makers Educate and Persuade Other Stakeholders
Once you’ve engaged a decision maker, this individual can become your best advocate. If you do this right, enterprise decision makers will do much of the heavy lifting for you by enthusiastically promoting your products to their teams. Why? Because they know it will make their professional life better, offer a handsome return on investment their superiors will love, increase team productivity, or solve whatever major pain point they’re desperate to eliminate.
Phillip Chen, in a post for Marketo, explains, “At Marketo, we’ve created guides for decision makers to make sound arguments to other stakeholders within their companies. You not only want to have arguments prepared for your sales team, but you also want to have arguments ready to go for your potential customers so that they can make arguments to their internal counterparts and stakeholders.”
One-size-fits-all marketing is a thing of the past. No two decision makers are the same, but following these best practices provides a solid foundation while allowing the flexibility to personalize marketing tactics and messaging to capture the attention of your most sought-after enterprise customers.
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