Best Practices for B2B Marketing During Covid-19

JP Morgan, Fidelity, Merrill Lynch, and Bank of America are engaging in a range of marketing, content, and communications practices in an effort to reach their clients and advisory networks. These practices include segmenting their audiences, providing thought leadership content, providing educational information, communicating with clients proactively, using email campaigns, and building information portals. A deep dive of these findings has been presented below.

1. Buyer Personas and Audience Segmentation

  • Best Practice: This practice involves segmenting audiences based on a certain criterion, developing personas based on that criteria, and developing marketing and business strategies that are tailored to reach and meet the needs of those unique personas.
  • Expert Insight: According to marketing strategy expert, Sheila Kloefkorn of KEO Marketing, “Personas are built from verifiable data to device an idealized representation of a buyer. An issue facing many marketing departments is that there isn’t a reliable database or centralized system to capture buyer or prospect information that would lend itself to better, more accurate personas. As a result, some marketers may take it upon themselves to make things up. This may be due to a lack of time or financial resources. In truth, developing personas requires a significant amount of time and investment to understand what drives existing buyers to become paying customers. In addition to market research, B2B organizations will likely need to reach out to customers and prospects directly to conduct interviews, either in person, over the phone or via email. There may even because to reconnect with former buyers to get a better idea of why they decided to partner with the organization in the first place and find out why they ended up leaving. It won’t make sense to speak only with happy customers, as this strategy will provide a very narrow view of the buying audience.”
  • Expert Insight: According to Adele Revella, CEO and founder of the Buyer Persona Institute, “Across 81% of our studies, buyers say that they eliminate providers from consideration when their salespeople don’t understand their needs or answer their questions. Through the verbatim quotes and decision criteria insights in your buyer persona, you will hear what the questions your buyers ask are and even the answers they seek. You can use these insights to upgrade your sales playbooks and content, showing your salespeople what they can do and say to help buyers through their journey. Your salespeople will also quickly identify the buyers who will never choose you, so they can promptly stop pursuing opportunities they can’t win.”
  • Company Example: JP Morgan has created a range of sustainable investment solutions and strategies based on various client goals. For example, some clients have the goal of avoiding investment in companies that don’t align with their specific standards and values. For these clients, the company’s proposition strategy is to exclude from the client’s portfolio or fund certain sectors and companies that don’t adhere to these values. Alternatively, if a client’s goal is to position their portfolio in accordance with a specific environmental or social theme, JP Morgan’s strategy is to take a top-down investment approach.

2. Internal Thought Leadership Content

  • Best Practice: This practice involves original content created by an expert that inspires others to think outside the box, understand things from a new perspective, guide thinking processes, and influences an audience to take action based on these revelations.
  • Expert Insight: According to Alex Rynne, an award-winning content creator at LinkedIn, “Ultimately, when colleagues participate enthusiastically and sustainably, it’s because they have compelling reasons for doing so. Because of this, it’s important to market your internal employee activation initiative with the same scrutiny and vigor you’d apply to a customer-facing campaign. One could easily argue that the employee activation campaign will have more to do with the long-term success of your thought leadership strategy than any other campaign.”
  • Expert Insight: According to Louis Carter, CEO and founder of the Best Practice Institute, “Most companies unfortunately become cemented in a “go-do” attitude, where employees are viewed strictly as programmable resources that must be allocated efficiently to produce the optimum result. In textbook operation management, this makes sense. But the real world works differently. Inspiring your employees cultivates a learning atmosphere that brings out the highest potential from your workplace. Your employees will be more passionate about their work and produce more results, your turnover rate will be lower, and Maverick Thinking will emerge to spur innovation and development.”
  • Company Example: JP Morgan’s Asset Management division uses digital thought leadership as part of its marketing strategy, based on insights collected from a company job posting outlining these initiatives. For example, JP Morgan’s Asset Management Global Head of Experience Strategy position requires that the individual create digital thought leadership content for internal use, which can logically be assumed to include its financial advisors (i.e. sales representatives). These content pieces are designed as presentations and are intended to be inspirational, focusing on things like strategic insight.

3. Internal Research and Educational Insights

  • Best Practice: This practice involves providing a workforce with access to research knowledge and other pieces of educational content they may not have otherwise had access to or knowledge of. This practice can also be applied to a client perspective, wherein the company provides educational content to the client.
  • Expert Insight: According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer if the company invested in their career development.
  • Expert Insight: According to Blake Morgan of Forbes’ CMO Network, “Customer experience starts with employee experience. When employees are engaged and empowered, they naturally want to provide better service for customers and go above and beyond to build great experiences. Companies that prioritize employee experience have strong cultures and established feedback loops to continually listen to employees and apply their suggestions. The goal of employee experience is to provide tools for employees to work in the best way possible.”
  • Company Example: Fidelity provides its financial advisers with a broad range of educational content that they are able to access directly when working with a client. For example, the company says that it provides its advisors with “an open architecture product platform and top resources in the financial industry,” the use of which is designed to help the advisor nurture their client relationships. Further, the advisors themselves provide the clients with educational information on the various channels and technologies that can help them monitor and manage their investments.
  • Company Example: Bank of America also uses their network of financial advisors to distribute educational insights to their clients. In doing so, they provide their clients with educational information about available products, services, and trading strategies.

4. Proactive Communication

  • Best Practice: This practice involves reaching out to clients proactively/unprompted and communicating in a way that is personalized, relevant, and helpful.
  • Expert Insight: According to Blake Morgan of Forbes’ CMO Network, “Proactive customer service solves problems before customers even know they are there. This is typically the customer success team’s job to monitor customer health scores as well as where clients are in the customer journey. By looking ahead and preparing for potential roadblocks, customer success can help clients navigate away from incoming pain points and keep buyers satisfied with their customer experience.”
  • Expert Insight: According to Trever Ackerman of the Forbes Communication Council, “A solid engagement strategy builds good rapport and shows your customer that you are proactively thinking about their needs. In other words, responding to inquiries quickly builds brand confidence. In fact, according to an study, up to 50% of sales go to the vendor that is the first to respond because the first to make contact is the best able to frame the conversation and define the value proposition.”
  • Company Example: Merrill Lynch Wealth Management has a team of dedicated relationship managers as part of their financial advisory team. According to the company, the majority of time spent in this role is dedicated to managing client relationships, serving as a key point of contact for the clients for any non-administrative needs. This individual contacts clients directly and provides them with information about investment strategies, account performance, new products, and market developments with the goal of promoting growth.
  • Company Example: Bank of America’s financial advisors are also directed to proactively reach out to clients in order to maintain the relationship and develop a personal connection with them.

5. Email Campaigns

  • Best Practice: This practice involves developing targeted marketing campaigns that are transmitted to clients / prospective clients via email.
  • Expert Insight: According to B2B marketing expert, Priya Singh, “The success of an email campaign can hinge upon the effectiveness of its cadence. If you can get the right emails to the right customers at the right time, you can get a lot of mileage out of your email marketing efforts. Your main priority should always be your prospects and customers’ interests.”
  • Expert Insight: According to B2B marketing expert, Rachel Foster, “However, there’s nothing quite as powerful (and affordable) as email marketing. In fact, 59% of B2B marketers say that email is their most effective channel for revenue generation. A study has shown that email marketing delivers $38 for every $1 spent. Email outperforms other channels including social media. According to McKinsey, you are 40x more likely to acquire a new customer from an email than from Facebook or Twitter. Meanwhile, you are 6x more likely to get a click from an email than from a tweet. As a B2B marketer, you have the opportunity to use email to nurture prospects and convert them into customers. Then, email can help you turn your these new customers into long-term loyal fans who recommend you to others for many years to come.”
  • Company Example: Fidelity encourages their financial advisors to rely on email marketing campaigns and provides them with information on how to do so successfully. The company notes that “60% of advisors engage in email marketing” and “60% of advisors who use email marketing rank it in their top 3 for lead generation activities.” The company states that email campaigns are more effective than more modern social tactics because it’s an ‘ever-green’ form of communication that meets the consumer on whatever device they are on. Fidelity also uses email campaigns as part of their financial advisor talent acquisition strategy. Examples of some of these campaigns can be found here.

6. Information Portal

  • Best Practice: This practice involves developing a portal, database or unique website that is designed to deliver information and content about a specific niche.
  • Expert Insight: According to Blake Morgan of Forbes’ CMO Network, “You can further improve response times by adopting customer self-service. Resources like knowledge bases, chatbots, and community forums help customers find solutions to problems without the help of your customer service team. This reduces your total incoming case volume, making it easier to respond to all customer inquiries. Knowledge bases are one of the most common forms of customer self-service. They’re a section of your website dedicated to support documentation that customers use to find answers to common problems. This resource not only saves your clients valuable time but also enhances their experience with your business. They don’t have to call your support team every time they have a question, making your product seem more user-friendly and easy to troubleshoot.”
  • Company Example: JP Morgan Asset Management a microsite in 2018 called ‘A Story About Trusts’ which featured nearly 50 articles featuring stories and information about multi-asset strategies, long-term investing and considerations for emerging markets, all of which had the goal of educating the audience about how investment trusts, such as JP Morgan, provide solutions that meet the audience’s needs. The microsite achieved 22,000 views in three months and reached dwell times of up to 6 minutes. The campaign was also a finalist at the Drum Awards in 2018.
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