B2b is often seen as the poor, dull country cousin of the sophisticated, urban b2c. There are quite a few reasons for this, but the most common seems to be that you are marketing to faceless businesses, rather than individual humanoids. And most people over the age of four instinctively know that businesses are not people.
But here’s the thing. People populate businesses. There are businesses that are filled to the brim with people, all who are driven by the same things as every other person on the planet, be it fear, passion, boredom or ambition.
It’s never the actual business interacting with your content, it’s the people who work for the business, and they are motivated by exactly the same things as their b2c counterparts. There are people within these businesses who are constantly being intrigued, inspired or bored by content, and in some ways your job is more interesting, because potentially there are so many more people invested in taking on your business.
This kind of thinking has created all manner of backward thinking about b2b marketing, but below are the three biggest misconceptions surrounding it.
There is a perception that brand is extremely important in b2c but not in b2b.
Actually the opposite is true. Brand is arguably more important in b2b.
The reason for this is that with a b2c interaction, often one or two people are making a purchase, whereas with b2b the decision making rests with groups of people, a procedure that is often multi-faceted and involved, spanning different departments and levels.
Therefore b2b awareness needs to reflect this and ensure it has a plan that targets all the levels of decision making – having a lower-funnel plan will only capture a small percentage of decision makers.
Your brand plan needs to be flexible, diverse and anticipatory; it must take into account where all these various people may be looking for information – it’s not enough send out a marketing email, a strategy must acknowledge all the people involved and ensure that it is catering to every single one of them.
There is also the feeling social media isn’t as important when thinking about b2b and if you are using it, it must keep to prescribed business hours. Yet as users of technology, we should instinctively know that’s not how it works.
Over 80% of people with a device use social media of some sort, and we’re just using that technology from 9 to 5 – the divide in our lives is blurring – we are on our devices all the time, jumping from work email to online shopping in a few quick clicks at all hours of the day.
Social media is exactly the same –Twitter isn’t divided into ‘work’ and ‘play’ it’s all there in one feed. Therefore marketers need to be thinking about how their content is going to be able to compete for attention with everything else that social media offers us.
But first they need to establish where their clients are going, how they are using social media – and not just in a professional sense. Really thinking about your clients as people with full lives, not just in the context of their roles, will help you engage their interest and to establish a connection.
If you manage to engage interest and land your client, in b2b land there is the feeling that you can rest on your laurels. This is a problem.
You’ve not just landed account, you’ve began a relationship and like all relationships, the very worst thing you can do is become complacent and take that person for granted. You need to be communicating constantly and ensuring that your work is constantly surprising and of the highest standard.
Your aim isn’t just to get the work, your aim should ultimately to turn your client into your biggest and loudest fan.
If you can hurdle over the facade a business can present, to the people within it, you will see that your marketing needs to be as creative, flexible and multi-faceted, if not more so, than the b2c companies. B2b isn’t the poor country cousin, it’s sophisticated, complicated and fascinating deserving of respect, not complacency.
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