Read this if you’re in B2B marketing

If you know anything about me and the values of Pink Digital then you’ll know that I am passionate about breaking down the belief that B2B brands must market in a completely different, impersonal way to B2C brands. I’ve written a post previously (back in October 2017) about the importance of remembering that your customers are humans and, how the global digital disruption (oooh, buzzword), needs to be considered for all organisations when creating your marketing strategy.

Now I’m going to talk more around how people’s personal beliefs, likes, dislikes, preferences and beliefs are impacting decisions in the workplace. I.e. why you should stop thinking something won’t work for you because it’s a traditional B2C tactic and why you need to lean into content that appeals to people.

First some questions: when was the last time you can honestly say you made a decision that was completely against your personal beliefs but was for the good of your company? Have you ever stopped working for a company because of how they operate or interact with you?
Have you ever found a new company to work with because their messaging was so up your street?

The chances are you answered: not for a long time, if ever; yes; yes.

There are 2 reasons for this.

1) You have been hired by your company for your expertise, mindset and experience. This means that it is very unlikely that if something is fundamentally against your beliefs personally, that it will benefit the company. You have been hired for your opinion. You know that and so will likely exercise your right to that opinion when making decisions on behalf of the company. Otherwise, I’m sorry but you shouldn’t be in your job.

2) It is physically impossible to completely separate your personal preferences for consumption, interaction and values, regardless of what you are researching or buying for. It’s not in our nature as human beings.

This means that who your company is and how your company operate are two of the most important aspects of your marketing strategy. And, you need to have a crystal clear view of who your target audience is – deeper than their job title.

You have to understand what they like, what they dislike, what their hobbies are, whether they have children, love sports, hate sports, are into fashion. Where do they over index? What values are important to them? All of these different elements can help to inform your tone, messaging, visuals and placements. It’s also why it is so important to continue to invest in brand awareness, not just sell, sell, sell your products. No one cares if you have the most cost-effective solution if you aren’t an ethical company nor will they want to partner with a company who’s employees are not happy or passionate – for example.

B2C marketing is often seen as the holy grail of marketing and super fun to work on because their campaigns focus on people and lifestyle. But you can appeal to people as well. Make people excited about your brand. Relate to them through their interests in more than just a badging exercise – find an organic connection between an element of their persona & your brand.

Then leverage the shit out of it.

Show the people at the core of the organisations you are targeting that you are there for them, that you understand them and that you can help them. Create an organic, human connection. The sales will soon follow if your website, products & sales team can do their job.

Connect; to humans.

Digital disruption is the biggest buzz phrase of the business world right now. I don’t remember the last time a day went by and I didn’t hear someone talk, read an article or see a job advertisement about digital transformation. Almost every company and every job function is affected by this and marketing is no exception. But what does it mean?

 A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how the landscape has changed and how we are always online (you can read it here), it got me thinking even more about how we should be marketing to consumers/businesses and the implications of this.

It used to be very clear cut what “type” of marketer you were – you either did B2B or B2C. Each one had its own set of properties. Now it isn’t that simple. With the acceleration of technology improvements and enhancements over the past decade, marketing organisations and functions need to be ahead of the game more than most when it comes to preparedness for digital transformation. Often the marketing teams are responsible for that first piece of interaction a customer has with a business. Be it a view of a social post, a view on a website, appearing in Google search, seeing a display ad or appearing on an affiliates site and so on – there are so many ways in which customers (businesses or consumers) interact.

Marketers need to think about the expectations of their customers and in case you hadn’t guessed already, I don’t mean based on whether they are a business or a consumer. Marketers need to think about the expectations of their customers as humans.

 As a consumer you expect to be able to access content cross device, whenever you want and wherever you want. Being in an office (or being in office hours) doesn’t suddenly move your expectations back 5 to 10 years. Just because you are shopping/investing/browsing for your organisation doesn’t mean you expect anything less than an integrated digital experience. 

Just because you are acting on behalf of an organisation doesn’t mean you aren’t a real person.

Yes, the content should be different and yes, there may be more research needed because let’s face it: messing up and ordering the wrong pair of shoes for yourself is okay and you can send them back, but messing up and ordering the wrong type of IT infrastructure for your organisation, your job is pretty much at risk.

Marketing organisations, regardless of audience, need to be digital (where their customers are). They need to be able to produce personalised content (but not too much so it’s creepy) that is correct and up to date (fed up of receiving emails from a mechanical company telling me my MOT is due for a car I haven’t owned in 2 years) and they need to be able to record every interaction with every piece of content to keep on succeeding. People want seamless experiences. They don’t want to be buying from a company (business or consumer) that has a rubbish website or isn’t mobile friendly. They don’t want to sit through grainy video footage for more than 5 minutes let alone a whole hour, or read ridiculously long reports that uses ridiculously long language. People want snackable content – something that isn’t a huge time investment. Content that gets to the point quick and addresses their needs when they are ready to engage with it. People need content that is interactive, that can enable them to get answers quickly, provide access to experts if needed (I’m thinking down the line of online assistants/live chat here).

In order to do this successfully marketers need adopt the latest technology such as good data management systems, good content management systems and ensuring they have the ability to interact with each other – rather than operate as separate entities. Then, they need to couple this with remembering that at the end of the day, they are marketing to people. People whose expectations have evolved with digital disruption and need marketing efforts to match them. 

This blog was first published October 2017, available here.