B2B Marketing Strategy: Finding the Diamonds Among the Stones
Business-to-consumer (or B2C) is generally defined by consumer goods and services companies, whereas business-to-business (a.k.a. B2B) encompasses products and services companies that sell to other businesses. B2B includes items used in the manufacturing process, as well as services that facilitate other business or consumer firms.
It’s conventional wisdom that the marketing strategy that you employ with each market type needs to be different—but my experience is that B2B presents a unique challenge. At the risk of generalizing, B2C companies tend have the more “glamorous” products and services—the ones that consumers crave and brands that have a more direct emotional appeal with their audience. In contrast, B2B firms tend to be more industrial and behind-the-scenes-type companies, selling parts of the whole or processes to make the whole better. They are not necessarily household names, although there are exceptions.
A recent article by Michael Brenner, “Does Marketing Have a Marketing Problem,” offers insight on some of the major challenges involved in the industry, and I agree with his conclusion: Content marketing and storytelling are the best answer in a world that’s largely tuning out banner ads, emails, TV ads, and direct mail. (Read the whole article for the discouraging stats.)
How to Add Storytelling into Your B2B Marketing Strategy
In my view, storytelling comes across as far more genuine than advertising. But let’s face it: Not all of us are good storytellers. If that sounds like you, invest in hiring a business- and marketing-savvy writer who is adept at finding the diamonds among the stones. Have the writer interview and ask questions of all key stakeholders and personnel, as well as some additional long- and short-time employees.
A good writer can weave the separate stories into one or a multi-part compelling story that will resonate with your customers. Build on these points of differentiation, accomplishment, individuality and history, while intertwining a vision toward the future and where the company is going.
A second important aspect in business-to-business marketing is to facilitate your customers’ ability to share their own stories. This type of third-party testimonial is a powerful social proof, made even more powerful through social media. Consider also that:
- Forrester Research survey found that 84% of B2B decision makers said word of mouth recommendations influence their purchase decisions
- A Keller Fay research study found that B2B executives are more active recommenders than the average consumer. Source: “Myths of B2B Word of Mouth”
Finding a unique brand story behind a B2B company takes a little more digging and may not be readily apparent as it is in a B2C scenario. As HubSpot suggested in a their post, “Content Marketing for ‘Boring’ Industries: 10 Tips for Creating Interesting Content.” The story is there, it just may take more effort to find, develop and polish, before packaging it in a way that potential clients will be WOW-ed!
In the comments: Do you believe there are different emotional triggers in B2B marketing vs. B2C marketing? What’s your approach, and why?
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