What’s Your Hook? A quick guide to help you get your prospective B2B customers to engage with you.

If you are selling in a B2B market then you already know the challenges to finding new customers. Your prospects are getting barraged with cold-calls, emails and digital ads which makes it very difficult to stand out and get their time and attention.

Most B2B marketers look for a hook to engage their audience, something of value to their prospective customers which is given away in return for their attention and engagement. The hardest part of this process is to figure out what has perceived value to your prospective customers which will also make financial sense; not be taken advantage of by non-qualified prospects; and brings the prospect closer to the ultimate goal of buying something from you. As an example: I once received a $100 bill from a financial planner in the mail with a note “I know your time is valuable, so please accept my call in exchange for this $100…” which got my attention and I did take his call but I had zero interest or need for a financial planner at the time. I’m also not sure if this makes financial sense to scale it for most B2B marketers.

Before you start sending out $100 bills, follow this quick guide to help you brainstorm some ideas for your hook:

  • Start with a persona exercise to get a sense of what would be of value to your prospective customers. Once completed you should be able to answer these questions: What topics interest them the most? Who are their primary influencers? What motivates them professionally and personally? There are many good articles on how to develop persona’s you can find with a quick Google search such as this one: https://www.quicksprout.com/customer-persona/
  • Develop your brand’s story which should resonate with your customer personas. Describe what makes you different, why you exist and what you will provide to your customers and team members. If you’ve never developed one, here’s an article to get you started from Shopify: https://www.shopify.com/retail/how-to-build-a-brand-story-lessons-from-retail-branding-experts
  • Now find the intersection of interests of the target customers to your brand story. Which part of your brand story will provide value to your audience? This is where you will find the best ideas for your hook.
  • Now ask yourself these questions before you commit to your hook:
    • Does it have perceived value to my target audience?
    • Is it financially viable at scale?
    • Is it valuable enough to get your target audience to act and engage with you?
    • Does it enhance and build on our brand story and voice?

Here are few common tactics to get your started:

  • Live Events – I like events because they are time sensitive, meaning the date of the event provides a sense of urgency to your audience, i.e. “Last chance to register for this amazing event.” It also places you face to face with potential customers where you won’t have to compete for their attention. An event can be tailored to fit any industry, brand story or customer persona. Find key influencers in your industry to speak at the event and help with the marketing to fill the room. Use your vendors to help with speakers and venues. Capture the event on video for future marketing, social media and blog posts.
  • Webinar – If a physical event is outside your budget then try a Webinar. There are many software packages which are low cost or free to hold it and will only require you to have a laptop and camera. Send out an email blast with a link to a landing page which describes the benefits of attending so you can collect email addresses and phone numbers for future marketing purposes. Record the event for later use on social media and YouTube to gain additional traffic.
  • Free Consultation – Nearly every B2B has used this method at one time or another. It can work well if you clearly provide a benefit to the prospective customer and not just a sales pitch. Make this very clear in the marketing copy such as: “No purchase necessary, get a free evaluation to see how much you can save.” It works even better if you have an automated form for the customer to fill out where you automatically email them results once completed. Conversion rates tend to be higher since the commitment level of the user is perceived to be smaller than taking a phone call. It will also allow you to collect the information you need to better market to them.
  • Enter to Win – If you are looking for a Top Funnel strategy, then this could be a good tactic. The primary issue is that you will most likely get a lot of unqualified people to fill out the form. The low perceived commitment from the user with a large potential gain will increase engagement and allow you to collect important marketing information such as email addresses, but your resources may be stretched if you begin treating the information as leads which are handed over to the sales team. The sales team calling/contacting leads is your most expensive tactic which I would save for truly qualified leads so before you send these over to them, add some qualifying questions to your lead form.
  • Freemium or Free Trial – A highly popular tactic for software, apps or online services the freemium model allows users to try the service for a period of time or with limited features before they make a purchase. It’s one of the best hooks if it is financially viable. I would encourage you to open up the free trial for limited periods of time to create the sense of urgency and leverage the information you collect such as the pages/features they frequented most to setup marketing automation for when users end the free trial.

Your hooks will eventually go stale so I would encourage you to try many different hooks over the course of a year. Collect data from each, analyze the effect on your marketing and sales funnels and repeat.

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