One of the main differences between business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing is that the former is more complicated. B2B marketing generally has a longer sales cycle, there is usually a larger number of people involved in the sales process and, according to Douglas Burdett, founder of Artillery Marketing Communications, B2B marketing is more emotional than rational.
“If you buy the wrong kind of socks or you have your house roofed by an incompetent person, or you buy the wrong kind of care, you’re out that money, but that’s about it. If you’re working for a company and you buy the wrong software, it’s expensive, but it also affects the company’s ability, it might affect their future profitability or even their ability to stay in business,” says Burdett.
For this reason, the most successful B2Bs are those which focus on the fears, aspirations and emotions of the people involves in the purchase. As a B2B marketer, it’s important to aim to strike a chord with the emotional drivers at stake, think outside of product benefit and think about relationship dynamics and company dynamics, and direct your target there.
Granted, people involved in the purchase will want to have as much information about the product as you have available, but Burdett explains that it’s important to remember that people make decisions for emotional reasons, using the flight or fight instincts.
“They will use the product information and all the other aspects of it to back up an emotional decision,” says Burdett.
When you are marketing your B2B product or service, you must appeal to the purchaser on an emotional level. They are thinking, not just about the product and its benefits to the company, but also their own role in the company as someone who makes purchasing decisions.
Often in B2B, the company that is doing the marketing deeply understands the values of their own product, but they overlook this important aspect of B2B marketing. To be a successful B2B marketer, Burdett says, requires shifting focus to how your product or service is going to help the prospect “avoid pain or seek pleasure.” This strategy produces a much stronger connection between you, as a marketer, and your client.
This is particularly important when you are just starting out with your B2B. Burdett emphasizes “drilling down to your buyer persona.” The buyer persona is a representation of your ideal client, based on data about your existing clients and your own market research. Things to consider when creating your buyer persona include: client motivations, demographics, goals and behavior patterns. The more information and detail you can build up, the better. From here you develop an insight on how your product is researched and found and who the different players are in the purchasing process.
You are now equipped with the information you need to build a web space that will draw customers based on your buyer persona. A great way to do this is by starting a blog, which provides information on how your target clients can improve what they do. For example, if your product is a software solution for practice management, you might consider targeting practice administrators with blogs about how to run an efficient practice.
The objective here is to try to get customers to keep coming back to your web site to strengthen your relationship. If you are using Google AdWords, for example, you need to pull your prospects back to a landing page related specifically to what you’re offering.
Instead of saying, on Google AdWords, “buy our software,” you would want to run an ad for something like “how to streamline your medical billing process.” So you are using the content to pull them in, rather than trying to sell them something straight away.
As a B2B brand, you must be prepared to move away from the traditional marketing approach. Obviously clients need to be aware of the business value of your product or service, but must also build an emotional connection with the prospect in order to make a successful sale.
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