Avoiding assumptions in sector-based marketing | B2B Marketing

Kerrie Malone can see why sector-based marketing is a logical option for many businesses, but some fall into pitfalls of misconception. Here, she outlines them

For many organisations, choosing to target a specific sector makes sense – particularly if they have lots of expertise in a certain industry, or their products or services are designed for the unique requirements of a sector. Sector-based marketing can be a really effective way for these organisations to establish themselves as the ‘go-to’ organisation for customers within their target industry.

When you’re striving to be seen as an expert within an industry, however, you need to ensure that your communications are timely, relevant and compelling to your audience. If you have experience and expertise within a sector, it can be tempting to send out information on everything you know to every contact on your list to enhance your organisation’s credibility – but this can be counterintuitive.

Similar, but not the same

It’s crucial to remember that while organisations that work within the same industry will have similar pain points, every business will have its own unique challenges and requirements. If you’re targeting the retail sector, for example, a blog on the issues facing independent shop owners is unlikely to be read by a manager from a global franchise.

Bombarding your audience with generic content about their sector that doesn’t resonate with them is unlikely to encourage them to find out more about your products or services. An email full of relevant content, that lands at just the right time, is much more likely to engage your audience. The truth is that most organisations only care about whether or not you understand and can meet their specific needs – so you need to spell it out to them.

Do your research

How do you know what your audience wants to hear, and when they want to hear it? Two words: big data.

Most B2B organisations will hold firmographic data on their customers (such as their annual turnover, company size and location), but now that we can collate data from a range of sources, we have the opportunity to create much more defined segments.

From your web analytics to your sales teams’ conversations with customers, you should be able to gather the data you need to gain substantial insight into your audience’s behaviour, attitudes and needs. When talking to and analysing data on your audience, you should aim to find out the answers to questions such as:

  • How risk-averse are they?
  • When are they online?
  • How many people are involved in their purchasing process?
  • Why are they buying your product or service?

It can be easy to assume that as an expert within a particular sector, you already know all about your customers’ world, but it’s important to use real life data to test your assumptions – the findings may surprise you. You can then use this information to refine your customer segments.

Go the extra mile

Once you’ve segmented your customers according to their firmographic and behavioural data, it should be fairly straightforward to identify those that are likely to be of the highest value to your business. To give you the best chance of success with these customers, you may wish to adopt an account-based marketing (ABM) approach.

As ABM involves creating highly personalised content to engage your chosen high value accounts, you will need to go back to the data you hold on these organisations to ensure that you know when they will need your products and services and how best to reach them. You can then use this data to tailor your content for each individual account, to show that you truly understand and can meet the unique requirements of their business.

Curate your content      

We now have access to so much information on our customers and prospects that there’s no excuse for not refining your audience segmentation – and if you’re looking to succeed with sector-based marketing, this level of segmentation is vital. With these segments in place, you’re ready to create the highly personalised, timely content that will set your organisation apart from its competitors.

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