Business to Business (B2B) marketing has often been set aside as something much different than B2C marketing. However, as technology has advanced and social platforms have converged, our methodology for communicating to the B2B audience becomes more closely aligned with B2C methods than ever before. B2B decision makers are also consumers and interact with consumer brands outside of the work environment, yet the practice has been to treat them differently.
Successful B2C advertisers make every effort to differentiate their products and services using their best brand attributes, usually starting with their purpose, their “why” and social impact. They find ways to emotionally connect and to make their target audiences “feel” something. That “feeling” is often the greatest catalyst for consideration of a product or service.
Here are 8 points of note that B2B brands should consider in order to tip the scales in your favor so you can win more and get noticed:
- Avoid being considered as a commodity — at all costs. If you aren’t paying attention to your brand, start now. A strong brand message can lead to higher rates of consideration and purchase and a willingness for your prospects to pay a premium.
- Focus on business outcomes to convey superior business value. Go beyond talking just about product or service features. Define and show how your brand can help their business reach their most important objectives. Tell them how you can help them use “the tool,” not just what the tool does.
- Understand that quality service and great products are not enough to differentiate your business. The “What” or “Business Value” is the prerequisite for someone considering your brand. It’s the cost of entry. Your brand is your greatest differentiator. A great brand knows itself and its customers. If it’s an “apples to apples” choice for your prospect, make sure you’re the “orange.” Be different.
- Identify the emotional reasons your brand is important. Go beyond the rational or logical reasons your products and services make sense. What are the personal benefits from choosing your brand? Remember the decision makers (your customers and prospects) face consequences for poor decisions. They’re often looking for confidence, admiration from their peers and career advancement. A poor decision can cost them their credibility with stakeholders, their boss or even put their position in jeopardy. Demonstrate how your brand adds tremendous value to them as an individual.
- Convince non-customers of the personal value you provide. If you don’t, you’ll be challenged to convert them into a customer and even less likely to get them to pay a premium.
- Remember to be consistent combining logic and emotion into messages. As a prospect receives your messages, they may become believers — but that belief can be temporary. It may wane over time. You’ll have to convince them again and again. Find ways to engage them regularly with content that provides value and nurtures them until they’re ready to buy.
- Teach prospects something new about their own business opportunities. Provide compelling reasons why it’s necessary to take action now versus later.
- Make sure your internal team, beyond just the marketing department, is ready to embrace this approach and communicate with them. It’s a shift in thinking and takes diligence, but taking small steps will lead to a more differentiated brand and greater awareness. Your prospects and customers will get to know you for what distinguishes you, and when the time is right, they’ll move from consideration to trial.
If you can begin doing these things now, your brand will begin to stand out more often and lead to increased opportunities. There’s no reason to wait.