I listened to a cracking podcast the other day.
If you don’t already listen to Bootstrapped Growth, it’s worth checking out. I find a lot of marketing podcasts to be a bit wishy-washy but Ned from Bootstrapped Growth isn’t afraid to drill down into things.
The episode was a conversation between Ned and Chris Walker, the CEO of Refine Labs. I became aware of Chris a while back on LinkedIn. He’s a smart guy who posts solid advice day in, day out. Well worth a follow.
In this episode Chris and Ned took an imaginary SaaS product to market. They were talking specifically about healthcare, but the takeaways could be applied to any B2B product.
Here are three things that caught my attention. Be sure to check out the full thing!
Facebook is the best social ads platform (even for B2B)
LinkedIn’s CPM & CPC are insane and I’ve never seen LinkedIn ads drive a strong return. That said, it can be hard to convince clients not to buy LinkedIn ads because they feel like it’s ‘the B2B channel’.
Chris illustrated his point with a story from his own career:
“In 2013, I built an ecommerce store and I was selling stuff and I was using Facebook to sell it. Then when I went back to a 9-to-5 I was only thinking about SEO. I didn’t think about how to use the Facebook ads I was running to sell electronics to do the same thing for a B2B company. But when I made the switch [to Facebook ads] in 2015, the first ad I ran to respiratory therapists was incredible…”
“I talk to a lot of people that have the same assumption that Facebook is a B2C platform, so I’m going advertise on LinkedIn instead… But when it comes down to it Facebook owns Facebook and Instagram so you have everyone from 20-to-80 covered.”
The key thing is to distribute content that it doesn’t feel like a social ad. When people see an ad, they scroll.
“Most people will think like an advertiser and publish a demo of their product which is why it doesn’t work… Facebook is a newsfeed, so we put things in their that don’t feel like ads, they feel like news or they feel like an organic post about something they care about.”
I’m going to drop an example in to illustrate this point because I think it’s important. Social ads perform better when they feel user generated.
Here’s an example of something from my feed just now that is clearly an ad…
Here’s an example of something that looks more like user generated content. I’m already seeing more B2B companies creating video content that looks like this. It performs better and is a fraction of the cost to produce: win-win.
The traditional ‘funnel’ doesn’t work for expensive SaaS products
I love it when someone you respect says something you’ve been thinking for a while…
There is no funnel for this… Thinking about a complex B2B sales as a funnel is just wrong…
Over time I’ve just figured out that it’s just ‘give people the information and let them take their journey. The goal is to deliver the information at a high frequency over time. So that once they decide to buy your brand is top of mind and they understand the differentiation.
It just feels very straight-forward to me… It’s literally about being empathic and buyer-centric and knowing that people are smart. It’s about making sure that if you deliver enough information people will know where to find you.
It’s always seemed kind of ridiculous to me that you can pester someone into spending tens of thousands of pounds because they downloaded a PDF then opened a few of your emails. Informational intent is not purchase intent.
He dug into this point a bit more later in the episode.
On every single mobile device there is a button in the right hand corner that says ‘get a demo’ and it’s there and if people want to click it they can click it. But what I’ve found that is when you force people into a funnel it plays itself out in the sales efficiency metrics.
Don’t bother with traditional blogging
Chris separated the his suggested content strategy into product education and thought leadership.
The educational content recommendations were pretty straight-forward. Create content focused on the pain points that you solve, how the product helps, the case studies that back up your claims, the new features you’ve added and distribute it using Facebook ads.
His take on the other side was interesting though…
On the thought leadership side, whatever it is, podcasts, videos, have a long-form content pillar where you are interviewing experts in the industry. Make sure the person that’s executing is smart enough and knowledgable enough so they can ask good questions and continue to learn…
You want a blend of organic and paid. And in an ideal strategy over time you’re organic becomes so effective you don’t need so much on the paid.
The interesting thing here is that neither Ned nor Chris recommended blogging. I guess I can kind of see where they’re coming from.
I consume a lot of content. I listen to a lot of podcasts and watch a lot of videos on LinkedIn, but I don’t regularly read any blogs. When I do read a blog, it’s usually the result of a one-off Google search. I don’t check back on a regular basis.
A blog can be a great place to pull together all of your other activity but you’re not going to move a market with blogging alone.
This post is only really skimming the surface of everything they talked about, but they felt like the most interesting parts from a content marketing perspective.
If you’ve found any of the points above interesting, be sure to listen to the full conversation!