B2B Marketing services in South Africa – the perfect storm

A perfect storm is brewing for South African B2B marketers

South African marketers are being pressed for results because of:

  • state of the economy
  • distress in the resources sector
  • low oil prices
  • the 2015/16 drought

It’s the perfect storm for B2B marketers because their usual arsenal is empty:

  • Traditional advertising is still out of reach and not effective
  • B2B call centres don’t exist
  • Technical sales supported by CRM for B2B is still needed but it’s costly to prospect for leads
  • Industrial print is just not producing results
  • Eventing is becoming more and more expensive and the frequency of events have increased hugely.

Before we get to the solution though, I should back up the statements made above…

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Ad Agency
Historically in South Africa we tend to use Ad Agencies to execute marketing in the form of advertising. Our ads are entertaining and creative. But advertising is expensive. It was always out of reach for many B2B companies because it relied on captive consumer audiences and leveraged limited supply of ad space to push price.

B2C Call Centres
Business to consumer (B2C) call centres increasingly gained scale a few years ago and many B2C brands run huge outbound call centre campaigns. Are they still effective? Anyway, two years ago I went on a mission for a B2B company to source an outbound call centre service provider (and B2B database). Basically they don’t exist. Call centres don’t do B2B. I managed to scratch up a small call centre company which would “do us a favor because business is slow. But don’t expect us to commit to any results, but let’s try

A Sales Force with CRM
After a bumpy start in the 2000’s, CRM has been gaining traction. After finding that Advertising is still too expensive and call centres are non-existent for B2B sales, the ball was pushed back into the sales department. The logic was that sales can do the job if only they use CRM software to manage their sales process better. A bit of a “back to basics” approach which has merit but it’s not enough because prospecting all day in our congested cities is expensive when higher paid technical sales people are doing it. Sales as the solution is expensive for B2B companies.

Is print a solution to reliable B2B marketing services in South Africa?
Print as a solution to growing sales for B2B companies has always been around. The trouble is that it is getting easier and easier to start a B2B or industry related magazine. More and more pop up all the time.

The problem for the marketer is that:

  • no-one actually reads the magazines
  • they have very little value adding content
  • they are often loaded with advertorial.

Print as a solution, is rapidly losing ground. It is fairly affordable for B2B companies but I have not met a single marketing manager that can tell me they are over the moon with the results they are getting from print.

Eventing and exhibitions are done by default 
I don’t know why but it seems that many marketing managers in the B2B space still do exhibitions. It truly blows my mind. The sales people hate them. The results are very sketchy.

One company I spoke to at a recent Power and Electricty show, told me they were aiming for 50 leads. Lets just look at a possible cost per lead here:

[(Stand about R150k) + (Staff salaries for the day about R2 500 x 6ppl x 2 days)] divided by 50 leads = R3 600 cost per lead.

Which is expensive for a lead. If we run the funnel numbers down to cost per sale at 20% of leads quoted and 30% of quotes won, then it cost R60 000 per sale. Or 15% of a R400 000 product excluding sales effort and time.

Marketers I can only guess – do events because its big and visible and the boss and everyone can see what’s being done. (But there are loads of soft metrics which get ticked off too so it’s not all bad).

The solution lies in the increased use of digital marketing.

Inbound Marketing, a form or digital marketing, can deliver the following :

  • Affordability – because it doesn’t need creative advertising
  • Yield low cost per lead
  • Replicate and automate the first 60-80% of the technical sales cycle which frees up a sales persons time
  • Attraction of B2B buyers through Google search results – as opposed to low success B2B cold calls
  • Feed the CRM with leads for the sales person to act on
  • Produce articles where readership can actually be quantified

Changing how you approach your B2B marketing in South Africa can help you survive the perfect storm.  
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