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Beyond #BlackFriday: What B2B Marketers Can Learn About Driving Urgency

By Annie ZelmNov 27, 2015

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It's a familiar scene. Before Thanksgiving dinner has even settled, hundreds of people are huddled together, lined up outside the doors. Some are even shoving each other, trying to push their way to the front. They can't miss their chance to be one of the first 100 people to snag an exclusive deal: 75 percent off your state-of-the-art industrial light fixtures. 

OK, let's be real. 

It's tough for B2B marketers to create the same excitement and urgency as retailers. Their sales cycles tend to be much longer, and there's not a lot of impulse buying. That doesn't mean they can't learn a few things from the Black Friday madness.

Retailers are geniuses at creating a sense of urgency among their customers, which helps to close deals no matter what you're selling. 

Here are a five lessons B2B marketers can learn from retailers about driving urgency in marketing. 

Create Scarcity

Retailers do this by putting deep discounts on designer sweaters and telling you the deal is only good while they last. This might look a little different for B2B marketers, but the same principles apply. Scarcity isn't only about quantity; it's about FOMO—the fear of missing out. Instead of telling your customers you're about to run out of widgets or software, tell them what they'll miss if they don't purchase it sooner. 

Is it an opportunity to stay ahead of the competition by becoming an early adapter? A chance to start the coming year with greater budget certainty? 

Make them an offer they can't resist. Of course, if you really do have a limited quantity of something that's being discontinued or a service you've decided to phase out, by all means, promote it! 

Set Deadlines

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Think about all the seasonal treats you look forward to every year. 

Pumpkin spice lattes.

Christmas ales. 

Deeply discounted gym memberships. (Hmm, maybe not so much.)

What makes them so great is that you know they'll only be around for a limited time. We all know deadlines are fantastic motivators—so use them in your offers. 

Offer Incentives

If you regularly offer a free trial or consultation, consider throwing in a little something extra if a prospect books one before January or in the first few weeks of the new year. Maybe it's a gift card or a small product or service that usually isn't free, or a complimentary invitation to an industry event. Perhaps it's even a charitable donation on their behalf to an organization you already support. 

Be creative and make it fun. 

Make It Personal

People are more receptive to someone tapping them on the shoulder than shouting in the street to anyone who happens to be walking by. That's the difference between a personalized offer and a generic one, and retailers exploit the hell out of this because it works. They know what you bought last year, what you checked on your wish list if you shop online and even what you were thinking about buying before you were distracted by another glittering offer.

Think like a retailer and dig into your contact database. Create lists based on where your contacts are in the buyer's journey and send them the offers that are most relevant to them.

Buyers in the awareness stage are likely to be most receptive to an educational resource that can help them be more effective on the job. Those considering a solution would be interested in a checklist or guide about what to look for in this product or service to ensure they receive the best return on their investment. And buyers who are ready to make a decision tend to be most receptive to case studies, comparisons, free trials and more information about your product.

You can also create personalized offers through retargeting and tracking clicks on particular pages or calls-to-action. If you notice a number of people have visited your pricing page but haven't requested more information yet, it might be time to nudge them with an email or targeted social media post about your limited-time trial offer. 

Point Them In the Right Direction With Strong Calls-to-Action 

Your calls-to-action are your best salespeople. They are working 24/7 to close deals for you, so make sure you're treating them well. That means putting some time and effort into them.

Use enticing, action-oriented language that makes it clear what you want your visitors to do.

Register for a webinar to learn three secrets for success?

Explore solutions to find out which one is right for them? 

Whatever it is, make it strong. Then make it stand out with some contrasting colors and prime real estate on your website, in emails and anywhere else you're putting your CTA to work.  

For more tips, check out this handy resource on writing CTAs that convert.

The holiday season tends to be a slow time in the B2B realm, but it doesn't have to be that way. By taking a cue from retailers and infusing some urgency into your marketing efforts, you can close a few extra deals before the end of the year—or at least prime a prospect to sign at the start of the next one. 

In fact, you can have the best of both worlds: Great doorbuster deals without the crowds! 

PIVOTING YOUR PLAN with Inbound Marketing

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The Author

Annie Zelm

As the content manager, Annie manages a team of brand journalists and is the driving force behind the content strategy for companies in a wide range of industries, including healthcare, technology and professional services. Relying on interviewing skills she developed in her seven years as a journalist, she uncovers insights about what motivates buyers in these industries and uses that knowledge to shape client websites and editorial calendars.
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