Did you know that the modern B2B marketing funnel was invented in 1898? For over a hundred years it has been the foundation of business-to-business marketing. Now it has been broken. Broken by a program installed on over a billion computers: PowerPoint.
So how did PowerPoint break the B2B marketing funnel? More importantly, how can businesses bring it into their B2B strategy?
PowerPoint lowered the barrier to entry for inbound
Once upon a time, B2B marketers entered the funnel by putting their foot in the door. To get to that awareness stage, they had to invest in enormous advertising campaigns. That was the era of outbound B2B marketing, which mostly went out with the advent of ad-blockers.
Now, according to Heidi Taylor’s book “B2B Marketing Strategy”, up to 80% of B2B buyers begin their journey with a Google search. Outbound is out, and inbound is…y’know. So how did that happen?
Well, with the advent of the internet, it became easy for any business with an effective message to get noticed. To take advantage of this, businesses needed content that could quickly be consumed and shared across business pages. They needed content they could create cost-free. Content like slideshows.
With that in mind, is it any wonder why LinkedIn paid over a hundred million dollars to buy Slideshare back in 2012? Of course not. LinkedIn is all about building bridges between businesses. They were simply buying the best platform for sharing the best content for building those bridges.
By lowering the barrier to entry for inbound, PowerPoint disrupted traditional Awareness stage strategy.
PowerPoint reduced the need for retransmission
The consideration stage was once the most important filter for any business purchasing decision. It was the stage when buyers would have to pitch outside offers to their peers.
In another age, this stage was when the buyer would distort the seller’s message. They would make it more pleasing to their peers, and lose the essence of the original in the process. Then along came PowerPoint.
Now, sellers could communicate every aspect of their business in one clear presentation. There was now no need to retransmit messages. Buyers could simply present their peers with the same slides they had been sent.
This reduction in retransmission has had a profound impact on the B2B funnel. With less retransmission, sellers can be sure the same message they send is the one their leads will receive. Talk about PowerPoint to the people.
PowerPoint created more consistent communications
In branding, consistency is key. In advertising, the medium is the message. For brilliant B2B marketing, businesses must combine both to create compelling messages in a consistent medium.
Of course, statistics show that buyers require a variety of message formats across the funnel. For instance, The Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmarking Report showed that 75% of B2B buyers preferred in-person engagement at later stages. At the same time, an ALF Insight Report from the same year showed that 75% of content marketers still sent their initial content over email.
In light of this, PowerPoint excels in its ability to establish consistent communication across multiple formats. First and foremost, it is an in-person presentation tool. From there it can generate hand-outs, PDFs, and online content. The same PowerPoint could be seen by a CEO on a tablet, then shown to thousands at an industry convention.
By enabling consistency across stages, PowerPoint allowed business to easily make a bigger impression across the B2B funnel.
PowerPoint let anyone adapt to their audience
In a bygone age, small-time B2B sellers had limited resources: One pamphlet, one website, one pitch. Once they hit the stage of meeting leads, small-time sellers would have to get creative. If their leads had unexpected questions, they would have to improvise. If those sellers didn’t have the years of experience it took to answer unexpected questions, they would lose their lead.
This need for adaptation put large organisations at an unfair advantage. After all, only they could afford more sales material and experienced sellers.
Enter PowerPoint, and its ability to be easily adjusted to any audience. Now, companies had sales material they could tailor to any lead. On top of that, they could build custom shows that contained the answers anyone could ask for.
In the end, this opened the funnel up to every organisation. Now the funnel could only filter a lack of quality instead of a lack of resources.
PowerPoint created a better salesforce
There’s a reason PowerPoint is used in most educational institutions: It’s an easy, effective teaching tool. After all, it lets us show students everything from animated graphs to engaging videos.
Because of this, it has become the ultimate tool for training B2B sales staff. By making important information engaging, it arms sales staff with the statistics they need to sell their business. On top of that, the program’s portability has allowed businesses to educate their staff through any screen.
The program’s ease of use also makes it an extremely agile training tool. Instead of investing in videos or online modules for every new business offering, companies can quickly update the information in their training presentation.
Just as PowerPoint allows an organisation to educate its salesforce, it allows that salesforce to educate their clients. By arming every member of their sales team with the same presentation, organisations have been able to ensure their salesforce communicates a consistent message.
By helping businesses quickly educate their sellers and leads, PowerPoint let everyone enter the funnel faster.
PowerPoint let anyone prototype
Until PowerPoint, developing a prototype was once the most important part of your Intent phase strategy. It allowed important buyers to see if your product performed as pitched.
For small software developers, this was often the greatest barrier to B2B marketing. As they often lacked the resources to create prototype programs, they usually stalled at this stage.
Enter PowerPoint, and its ability to rapidly produce prototypes. It allowed smaller app developers to build smoke-and-mirror representations of their final product. This let them show how the final product could work on a screen. With these simple prototypes, software developers could simply earn the funds to finish projects by impressing investors.
By enabling everyone to prototype, PowerPoint has let buyers excel in parts of the funnel where they usually failed. On top of that, it has raised expectations for early prototypes among buyers.
As you can see, PowerPoint has had an enormous impact on the B2B funnel. It has encouraged a shift to inbound awareness building, and increased communication between companies and clients. It’s let small businesses adapt to their audience while educating their salesforce more effectively. Above all, it has enabled software developers to rapidly prototype and pitch new products.
While the B2B funnel will continue to evolve, it’s clear that PowerPoint will keep playing an enormous role in every organisations B2B strategy. To embrace the power of PowerPoint, your organisation should explore the program’s potential. After all, it’s not just a slideshow builder. It’s a comprehensive multimedia tool that anyone can edit.
To make the best use of PowerPoint in your B2B strategy, speak to us about your B2B needs.