B2B Marketing to Niche Industries
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When it comes to creating a niche marketing strategy for B2Bs, there are no off-the-shelf options.
It’s a blessing and a curse.
On the one hand, you can adapt the way you sell to match how customers like to buy.
But doing that involves anticipating how they'll want to buy before they're actually buying that way because it takes time to get systems in place that can deliver on their expectations.
This is particularly true at a time when B2C giants like Goole, Amazon and Apple are continuously lowering ease-of-use expectations, shortening B2B buyers patience thresholds for a cumbersome UX in stride.
Plus, with a finite B2B market, you can’t afford to invest in the types of solutions that B2Cs can. The market size doesn't justify it. It's a balancing act, because you can't afford to deeply solutions that frustrate and alienate people either.
So it's tough.
The evolution of B2B digital marketing to music directors, a niche, niche market is something Adam Taylor, President of APM Music has been living and breathing for 2 decades. I breathed the first one with one. I was his PR guy.
He spoke with me for my book on digital marketing about what he’s learned from his experiences, walking me through his migration from analog to digital. It's compelling because he explains what it takes to pivot a digital based his 20-year experience.
In this post — written from the interview which you can listen to at the top of this page (subscribe to the podcast) — Adam discusses how digital technology changed the music industry as a whole, and why there’s never a shortage of business opportunities, even in emerging or niche industries.
How APM used technology to fulfill customer demand
Digital pivot requires digital infrastructure, which takes time to specify and deploy. And the B2B lead generation strategies executed by those systems take even longer to get up and running.
“Technology was a great way to serve our customers with a digital library. At first, that WAS the selling proposition.”APM Music CEO Adam Taylor
At APM Music, it started by creating tech that helped customers find and download production music for use in film and television, by making their production music library searchable and tracks downloadable online, rather than shipping CDs. Then, it moved into translating the value of that music search engine to music directors, who were accustomed to getting and cataloging physical media with their own systems themselves.
It may sound crazy today. But not everyone had broadband, and people were still getting comfortable with browser software. Si in spite if the fact that it seems so obvious today that digital is a better, easier way to go, it wasn't back then.
So as Adam was migrating APM Music's B2B customer journey from analog to digital, he had to find ways to convince music directors that his online solution made sense for them, he had to help them make the pivot and he had to maintain digital and analog channels simultaneously for years while he pivoted.
Now, Adam has the data analytics to prove the value and continuously improve and personalize the customer experience, but it wasn't always that way.
To be precise, his pivot from a brick-and-mortar music library to a digital one took around six years.
Bringing together the tech and B2B marketing message
Everything about the supply chain of music, from discoverability and production to delivery, has changed. But APM has solidified their place in the market with a niche marketing strategy that uses technology to keep the customer’s needs at the forefront of everything they do.
“Our obligation is to bring in great music and deliver what our clients want when they want it. In between that is the search engine. But marketing is also very important because we need to understand our client and their wants.”
Here were the major challenges and digital transformations in their B2B growth marketing approach:
- Having sales and marketing work together to create a specific set of goals around customer acquisition that helps marketing bring better MQLs to sales.
- Using data to personalize the results customers see when they search for production music.
- Adapting to an omnipresent channel and messaging world to continually generate leads.
- Developing a proactive — not just reactive — niche marketing strategy that focused on customer success, retention and customer lifetime value.
- Segmenting a niche industry into even smaller markets in order to serve different customers with the most personalized experience and messaging possible.
But APM has come a long way from the early days of martech when everyone was sending the same email blast to everyone and using PR to drive awareness instead of sales results.
Creating an effective niche marketing strategy
APM is a great case study of a B2B brand that’s come a long way with their marketing, using technology to both fulfill demand and create a personalized customer experience.
And, though they are in a finite industry with limited prospects, Adam made a very good point all B2B marketers should remember.
Optimizing for market growth is as important as optimizing to grow market share.APM Music CEO Adam Taylor
“You never have unlimited potential in any market. But when you are in a very niche, small market, it’s likely still growing much faster than you as a single company can service. Even in our emerging market, we can’t grab all the market share because it’s big enough, and it’s growing daily.”
That being said, here are his top recommendations for B2B marketers who want to create a successful niche marketing strategy for themselves:
- Focus on account-based marketing that doesn’t just personalize based on the company, but the individual contact’s behavior.
- Get your entire team together to make sure everyone understands the messaging, goals, and marketing content that is available.
- Use tech and data to evaluate objectively whether or not something is working.
- Unite sales and marketing by creating a fully articulated business process that addresses lead qualification, nurturing, content, and analytics.
- Remember to think in terms of lifetime customer value rather than simply acquisition.
Technology is certainly transforming the way we engage with and serve our customers, but a niche marketing strategy — like any marketing strategy — needs to be about putting the customer first.
Account, role, and individual personalization is what wins.
And you can do this by collecting meaningful data and making rapid-fire changes that move you closer to your business goes. But be careful. Cause you can’t afford to alienate prospects with your niche marketing strategy.
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