B2B marketing is about developing trust and building relationships in your industry. With the amount of analysis and evaluation that go into some oil and gas bid proposals, the people making the decisions are still human. As good as a deal seems on paper, the oilfield still prefers to do business with people we trust.
Most businesses focus their B2B marketing on developing their brand as the solution to the market's problem. This strategy works well for established brands with a long history in the market; even then, it is better as a macro strategy. People still prefer to buy from people they trust.
If you've ever worked in operations and needed an oilfield service company to perform a job – an inspection, repair or installation – you or someone in your department had a short list of trusted vendors to approach, and an even shorter list of companies (or technicians) who wouldn't be allowed to set foot on your installation. Guys in the oilfield develop a certain level of trust with the service companies and manufacturers they work with. And the best way to develop a high level of trust when you get on a job is to make the team that hired you look good.
Especially if you and your prospect don't have a history, or if your prospect lacks experience sourcing a solution to a specific problem, you want to be the most well known name in your sector of the industry.
In the past, companies would take out expensive print media ads or sponsor local industry events. This is a decent tactic to promote brand recognition, but it does nothing as a way of demonstrating your company's expertise.
Even if your brand has a good reputation in the industry, the oilfield still wants partners with whom they can have a strong, trusting relationship.
“How do you demonstrate the expertise of your business?”
The answer to this question is pretty simple, even though it may sound counter-intuitive to most businesses. Your business should identify key employees that it can develop into strong internal brand ambassadors.
Assuming your customers have a list of trusted advisors they go to for certain tasks and projects, they also have a list of trusted sources they rely on for solutions to their business problems.
These trusted sources range from mentors and peers, industry publications, celebrities in the industry (usually high-ranking business professionals from well-known companies), and even LinkedIn, blogs and podcasts.
Take some time to think about the sources you use for business information. Now take some time to think about the brands behind those sources. How many of the sources you rely on come from a brand, and how many come from a person you can name?
Our brains are wired to make personal connections with other humans. When we form a connection with an inanimate object, animal or business, we almost always anthropomorphize that subject – we give it a name and personality all of its own.
Humanizing Your Business with Brand Ambassadors
In the past, companies have allowed employees to author whitepapers and be interviewed by industry publications, but not as part of the corporate B2B marketing strategy. At best, these were employee-driven activities, and most times they were one-offs. As long as the employee didn't make the company look foolish, he or she got the go-ahead.
We are seeing a marked increase in the use of employees as thought leaders in their industry. Strong brands see the value of having employees viewed as subject matter experts.
Developing brand ambassadors as part of your digital B2B marketing strategy is a smart way to humanize your corporate brand. It allows your target market to associate a name and face with the business they trust to solve their problems.
“Developing brand ambassadors as part of your digital B2B marketing strategy is a smart way to humanize your brand.”
This strategy also produces better results than having an army of sales personnel regurgitating copy every time they send out an email or post online. When the market learns about visa restrictions in Angola from your legal or HR professional, it demonstrates that your organization is on top of the intricacies associated with doing business in the parts of the world where your customers operate.
Who Are My Brand Ambassadors?
Assuming you're hiring the right people, you should a have a core group of employees who actively advocate for your business. This core group is made up of those who attend industry events, engage with clients, talk to vendors regularly and have professional relationships with competitors. No matter who they're talking with, they consistently promote your brand and advocate for your products and services.
Don't misunderstand; these are not just your sales people. These advocates can be found in every aspect of your business, and in all likelihood have already been identified as high-potential employees.
The brand ambassadors you select and further develop will be an integral part of your digital B2B marketing strategy. Your key players should be experts in your core services and products, but your brand ambassadors should cover a wide range of disciplines. Experts from HR, supply chain and other departments should contribute to your digital marketing content.
Identifying and selecting brand ambassadors is a commitment. You don't want to lose those employees once they build their own name in the industry. The audience that follows your brand ambassadors will likely have greater loyalty to the ambassador than to the brand he or she represents. When you have successfully deployed your brand ambassadors, your brand will be associated with the experts. The lasting effects will benefit both the brand and the ambassador.
Lean Oilfield is an oil and gas digital marketing firm that uses lean strategies to get the greatest return on your marketing efforts. Sign up for the free digital marketing evaluation of your website, and start generating more leads today.