One of the challenges that I often hear from marketers in the Asian B2B market is the lack of a mature media landscape. It is increasingly common to see only a handful of trade publications, which still primarily focus on print magazines and lack a strong online presence.
This is particularly true for highly technical and scientific businesses, where the relevant audience can be fragmented across a wide geographic and vertical scope. This makes the value of advertising in the relevant publications disproportionately low, since only a small slice of the audience is relevant. In this environment, where the audience is hard to reach with traditional media, how then can marketers grow their number of leads, expand their reach, and capture more of the market?
Increasing engagement with target audiences
You might get away with list rentals and landing contributed pieces in existing media, but you are limited to their readership, and editorial schedules. With this in mind, most marketers in Asia attempt to grow their reach the old fashioned way – through organising roadshows and attending trade events. Even then, each of these has their own drawbacks. Organising roadshows can be expensive and time consuming, and you are often likely to meet with existing participants that are already engaging with you. With trade events, the cost and time commitment is again also high, and there are also so many spread across the Asian region that it is hard to be seen at all of them. Several marketers I spoke with have lamented that there are less and less new faces, meaning that they are experiencing diminishing returns on these shows.
In order to reach a fresh audience, marketers have to consider a new approach. This might sound like old news, but marketers in such industries should seriously consider self-publishing and distributing their content, especially via digital means.
Using digital to your advantage
Online content platforms such as blogs and forums, might be more traditional on the digital front but are still a great way to organise content, increase your SEO, and generate leads through customer engagement. Some great examples are the Caterpillar community forum and the GE blog, which feature real people, interesting stories, and highlight the companies’ expertise in their respective fields.
Forums and blogs also act as a hub for content that can be shared to audiences on social media channels, and can become a key driver for higher audience engagement on social. For example, the Huawei ICT blog serves as a place for all of their ICT content, which they share through their social channels, such as LinkedIn.
The power of LinkedIn
Speaking of LinkedIn, if you have not yet started using your company page as a channel to generate leads through shared news and insights from your company, the time to do so is now. Although relatively mature in the West, LinkedIn growth in Asia Pacific remains robust, with most of Asia posting double digit growth rates.
Table from: https://econsultancy.com/blog/67455-is-linkedin-still-useful-for-marketing-in-asia-pacific/. A sample of users in the IT industry, and the growth from 2014 – 2016.
It offers a relatively inexpensive, quick and simple way to distribute content with a high level of control and enhanced analytics aiding the decision making process. Through targeted advertising and careful messaging, it is also a great way to reach out to a new set of audiences.
LinkedIn remains the only channel that allows marketers to segment and target professionals, and if used well, is able to drive engagement, and ultimately lead generation, in a cost effective and highly measurable manner.
The rising popularity of Instagram for B2B audiences
According to digital media analytics platform TrackMaven’s 2016 Social Media Impact Report, B2B brands on Instagram saw engagement levels that are 20 times that of LinkedIn. By that statistic, Instagram is presently the most popular media channel for B2B brands. One reason for this is that it is very visual, and human nature leads us to be attracted to interesting, relevant and fun content, and images are naturally able to ‘bring to life’ products and concepts. Especially for technically complex products, an image is a very effective way to impact people at an emotional level.
Making the most of what’s on offer
Marketers often find it intimidating to get started on owned media or social channels, as they can seem to be a big undertaking. However, in the absence of any other real means to reach out to a wider audience, they represent the best outlets for any B2B company. They can also be used in combination with other activities in an integrated communications approach, depending on specific requirements and budget.
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