One of the most common mistakes businesses make when it comes to business-to-business marketing, or B2B for short, is that they left out the personal touch entirely and focus solely on the technical aspect of their business, like drowning their contents with charts and statistics to instill the idea on their potential customers why their goods and/or services are needed. This is not the right approach. Behind every company, from multinational corporations to newborn startups, lies a group of people. That is an overused cliché, but it is overused for the simple reason that it is unequivocally true. Trying to appeal to a business means capturing the hearts and minds of the people behind it. Of course, as said people are making decisions on behalf of the company, there will always be a measure of objectivity involved so those statistics you’ve prepared are still going to be of great use and achieving that elusive balance between the personal and professional is the ultimate goal for B2B marketers and SEO services.
Appeal not to companies, but to human beings within them
In the original series of the classic science-fiction franchise Star Trek and its cinematic reboot, the two central characters of James T. Kirk and Spock act as a foil for each other. The blustering attitude, humor and disregard for authority of the human officer Kirk is contrasted with the stoic, unflappable and objective nature of the alien officer Spock. What started out as an antagonistic relationship turns into one of mutual respect and eventually into a close brotherly relationship. That is what B2B marketing should be, a perfect blend of the emotional and the rational thinking with each acting in support of the other. It’s the emotional part that leaves most marketers stumped but don’t fret as there are some pointers and examples to get you started, some of which are:
- The use of storytelling or a narrative
Instead of spending your time telling other businesses why they need your products, focus that time on telling them how your products can help them using an actual case study. Take a look-see at your portfolio and find a case or a client where a noticeable impact can be seen between the period of time before and after you take them as a client. The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end and voila! You have your own narrative. The logistic giant DHL for example ran an ad about the work they do for Arctic Trucks, providing delivery for satellite phones to expedition members in the South Pole.
Now, the conventional idea is that you use past commercial projects to illustrate your company’s expertise but if you’re feeling bold and/or mischievous, you’re free to experiment as long as it exemplifies what you’re capable of. The electronic conglomerate General Electric for example did a video about their engineer’s project in their attempt to literally catch lightning in a bottle, in which they used said lightning to power up a classic Fiat 500. The way I see is that the DHL example is more useful for increasing conversion but the GE example is more useful for recognition and brand awareness and you should decide which direction to take depending on your present needs and goals.
- Less convincing and more conversing
This applies to the tone you use in your marketing materials. The general wisdom is that a jovial and conversational tone should only be adopted in business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing but as stated before, marketing to business isn’t all that different. You shouldn’t go the extreme end of the equation and use slang or other chatspeak and abbreviations, mind you, just simple naturalistic conversational language to remind your customers that there is a human face behind the marketing speak. Marketing materials, especially newsletters, tend to be pushy. Yes, I can see that you’re having a special offer that is only for a limited time but again, instead of telling your customers how much money they’d be saving three times in the same email, figure out the best way to communicate why this is such a good deal without drowning them in oceans of text. Newsletter should always be short and sweet and generally, I’d advise on using visual mediums in lieu of more text.
- Dabble in what is called color psychology
In the DC comic Green Lantern, the color yellow is described as being a representation of fear and that the titular Green Lantern and his corps is in direct opposition to the yellow Sinestro but do you know that as a representation of the universal sun, yellow is believed to project warmth and optimism? Color psychology is a somewhat controversial topic in marketing itself as it is unfairly described as psychobabble but if you’re looking at colors contextually, there are certain advantages you could use. In Chinese culture for example, red is quite popular as it symbolizes good fortune and on every Chinese New Year, you can see red lanterns being hung up in Chinatown.
There are certain colors that are universally representative, such as nature’s green or sky’s blue but due to the sheer difference between cultures and preferences; there is no single color that could convey the same message to everyone. What you should keep in mind however that colors do matter and that the impact of each color should always be considered when it comes to deciding what kind of message you’re trying to send. Here’s something to ponder, did you ever notice that when it comes to men’s high fashion brands, the color you’re going to see are mostly rendered in grayscale?
Ever since social media first burst into the picture a decade ago, the line between the personal and the professional have blurred to the point of extinction. A dog has more followers than Apple on Instagram and the official Twitter account for the 90’s video game mascot Sonic the Hedgehog continually posts absurd self-depreciating jokes. The point being that none of the conventional rules apply anymore. For example, as the startup culture began to flourish, the median age of small business operators start to skew younger and younger with reports in 2014 that the age group of 18-34 comprises almost half of the B2B customers. This is the main reason why it pays to adopt some of the B2C marketing tactics into B2B, millenials are the most populous age group in both of the situations. A number of marketers and SEO services focuses on optimizing on the other end without realizing that the market itself has changed, there really isn’t much different between B2B and B2C marketing anymore.