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Bob Apollo is the Managing Partner at Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners Ltd, a UK-based B2B sales and marketing performance improvement consultancy. 

He will be speaking at our Funnel B2B marketing event in November, about the smart tactics that SMEs can use to compete with larger brands. 

I've been asking Bob about how the web has changed B2B marketing, and how marketers need to adapt to mobile and social media...

Can you tell me a little about your upcoming presentation at Funnel?

I'm speaking in the "Attract" track, so I'm going to be focusing on how companies of all sizes can use inbound marketing to attract more of the right sort of prospects - and suggesting that smart thinking is more valuable than huge budgets.

So I'll be focusing on some of the things B2B companies need to bear in mind before they start writing their compelling content, covering topics such as:

  • The death of demographics.
  • Ideal prospect profiles, key stakeholders and buyer personas.
  • Issues, trends and trigger events.
  • Creating attractive content.
  • Navigating the 'BuyerSphere'.
  • Using your connections.
  • Facilitating the buying decision process.
  • Making intelligent use of technology.

How can SMEs compete with firms that have bigger budgets?

By being fast, smart and agile. Small firms have the ability get through several implementation loops before the big guys can get their first campaign approved.

This alone can help them implement dramatically more effective campaigns.

How has the web changed B2B marketing? What are the major challenges that it presents for B2B marketers? 

First, it has meant that buyers can do their initial research without ever having to speak to a salesperson, so that sales get engaged far later in the buying decision process.

It has also made it far easier for prospects to identify alternative options. Smart SMEs can use this to their advantage, being considered in situations where previously only the big established vendors might get a look in.

The biggest challenges are for agencies who have positioned themselves as being "creative". Without great data and awesome execution, creativity has no value.

Of course when all those things are combined (creativity+data+execution), the new generation agencies can really get to knock the ball out of the park.

What part does technology have to play in this?

It's central to it. You can't make smart decisions or manage rapid implementation loops without it.

But it's also a great leveller. SMEs can use technologies like Hubspot to get access to capabilities that would have been restricted only to large organisations with very deep pockets just a few years ago.

What should B2B marketers be doing around mobile? 

Understanding how their prospects and customers are using mobile. Being aware of just how much web content is being consumed on mobile devices. There's a great article on avoiding the pitfalls here.

How can B2B make the most of social media?

By understanding how their prospects and customers use it, by identifying where they hang out online, by contributing to the debate, sharing their learning and by creating attractive, compelling content.

Oh, and by not 'pitching',it's awful etiquette.

I'll be talking about a key aspect of this, 'Navigating the BuyerSphere', in my presentation.

How do you see B2B marketing developing over the next couple of years? 

The smart and nimble will survive. Social Enterprises will thrive. Command-and-control structures will fall.

What is your favourite B2B ad campaign past or present?

Velocity Partner's B2B Manifesto. Great content, nicely targeted, completely integrated across the new marketing mix.

Graham Charlton

Published 20 September, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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