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[Interview] An Industry Consultant Examines B2B Marketing in 2019

Bill Jones

Bill Jones brings value to his students, consulting clients, and customers through his combination of skills and experience in sales, sales management, engineering, product development, team building, and innovation. Through WMTJ Consulting, Jones consults on product development, industrial process improvement, sales, and marketing. He develops and delivers in-house and manufacturer’s representative sales training courses, which include role playing and negotiation strategies.

As an entrepreneur and an innovator, we're excited that we had the opportunity to interview Jones on our weekly Marketing Communications Today Podcast. Here's what he had to say.

Cyndi Greenglass: Can you talk about the state of B2B marketing?

Bill Jones: Right now, everybody is advertising. The question becomes why should somebody buy from you? Why should somebody listen to you? It's more important now than ever before to really do your homework on targeting your customers. All of your communications should point to why they would value your product. But, it's not just telling them why they're going to value your product, you want to demonstrate, you want to talk about case studies. Everybody is making noise out there and you have to cut through the clutter. Business to business marketing is not that different from consumer marketing. Corporations don't make decisions. Corporations don't buy. People buy. People make decisions. The same thought processes that you and I would use in buying a car or getting a new sofa are the thought processes they will use. It's all got to be personal. It's all got to be focused on relationships.

CG: What are some of the key B2B lead generation tools are that you are seeing successful in the market?

BJ: What is successful is working to engender relationships. I completely believe that people choose their suppliers and the people they want to do business with in a very similar to the way they choose their friends. What am I looking for in a friend? I'm looking for somebody that I can trust. I'm looking for somebody that's not terribly afraid to tell me the truth, and I'm looking for somebody that I feel comfortable with moving forward in a relationship. That is what I think the target is for everyone's marketing. You have a choice. Who do you want to buy from? Do you want to buy from a friend or do you want to buy from the yellow pages? You want to buy from a friend.

CG: How do you develop those relationships?

BJ: One of the strongest ways of doing that is a fabulous website because with websites, you can put on case studies, you can put in white papers. If you were trying to get this metal into General Motors or Ford, you're going to have people in engineering departments that really want to see a lot of heavy-duty equations. You can have that available to them so they can see it and they can say, "Hey, these people are credible." It is very difficult to do that in individual advertising context. You are always looking for credibility. You are looking to explain how somebody else used this to their advantage. And to make this really effective, you have to do your homework upfront. You do your homework first so you know you can give three reasons why I think you would value my product.

CG: What are some of the best strategies for measuring ROI?

BJ: Before you ever get money from corporate, they are going to want to know what they're getting back. You have to have your goals specific—they have to be measurable, they have to be quantifiable, and there has to be a timeline. They will calculate what you're promising to return to them, if it's worth giving you the money, and you have to have measurable outcomes. What specifically can you measure? You can measure how people perceive the products if that's what you're trying to do. Best measurement is when you can tie sales directly into your advertising, which is very difficult. It's easier on direct response. In fact, one of the companies that I know that was very successful doing that was Aflac. The quick story there is the ad agency was having a meeting with Aflac, they had no ideas, they were walking through Central Park seeing ducks and one guy said, "That sounds like Aflac." They looked at each other and they said, literally, "What the hell. We don't have anything else to talk about." So nothing changed from Aflac. Normally what makes it difficult is you have sales forces, you have competitors, you have all this noise going on out there. How do you know what was really effective for you? The only thing to change is suddenly you've got this duck squawking, "Aflac," and their sales went to the moon. But it's very difficult to do that. So you want to try, when you're rolling things out, you want to try to know what you're going to measure, and you really want to test it in a small area first. That is very inexpensive insurance. What am I going to measure, how am I going to measure it, and then try it.

CG: What other ways can we test in B2B?

BJ: You can test at a trade show. Most industries have their own industry groups. They have industry specific magazines which will never die because in addition to vendors' advertising, it has all the inside gossip for the industry, so they're going to be there for a long time. What better place to ask people for their honest opinions about things? These are the people that work with it. If it's presented in such a way that you're not leading their answers and you get honesty back, that's amazing.

More About Bill Jones:

Jones works with clients to re-engineer products and industrial processes for energy efficiency, cost reduction, and improved performance and marketing position. Jones also works with clients to integrate front-end and back-end engineering functions with standard practices for labor efficiency, faster customer response, reduction in opportunities for mistakes and overall cost reduction. As an entrepreneur and innovator, he strategizes for start-up businesses and facilitates the growth of small businesses.

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