When it comes to marketing, you might feel like B2B marketing is much harder than B2C marketing. You probably think traditional advertising mediums that reach the masses, like radio or social media, are tough to utilize in the B2B space because your product or service is technical and needs to appeal to businesses. Right?
If that's the way you're approaching B2B marketing, you're probably unhappy with your results. The bottom line is that there really is no such thing as advertising to a business, you are always advertising to a human: the owner, the decision maker, the product manager, the purchaser, the president or vice president, you get the point.
In this article we’ll cover five B2B marketing misconceptions that will hold you back if you let them, but you can fix these mistakes (or avoid them altogether) pretty quickly. It's time to change the way you think about B2B marketing.
1. Word of Mouth Is the Only or Best Option for B2B Marketing
We believe in the power and importance of word-of-mouth marketing, but we also feel strongly that relying on this alone will not get you the results you need to truly grow. Of course having a happy customer share their experience with a peer and having that lead to a new client is one of the best “wins” we can all hope for… but word-of-mouth can be very slow, and much of it is completely out of your control.
If a customer has one poor experience, they are much more likely to share that than they are the numerous positive experiences they’ve had. However, when using a mass media approach — like radio — you take back the control over the message and you can still use the power of testimonials and storytelling to take a word-of-mouth approach (with one of the biggest “mouths” in town!)
2. Businesses Interacting With Businesses Should Be All Business (i.e., Dry and Formal)
Why is it we expect whitepapers and all-too-lengthy sales presentations to do the grunt work in B2B marketing? There is definitively a point at which that level of data is both good and necessary, of course, but that ought to be ancillary to your actual pitch. It is possible to be business appropriate while still interacting with humor and engendering other emotional responses.
Take Sprint's recent TV commercial for its comprehensive business mobile plans as an example. It is aimed specifically at businesses, but there's nothing boring about this ad. That's because it's aimed at a particular department of a business, or more aptly, the leader of that department, and it takes the viewer — whether they're that person or not — through an emotional journey that leaves them feeling triumphant and successful. That makes it all the more successful as an ad. (The fact that it also sells Sprint to customers at large with that sense of triumph is undoubtedly a purposefully happy side effect.
3. Other Marketing Is for People, and B2B Marketing Is About Reaching a Business
While the Supreme Court has let corporations use a certain amount of personhood, you aren't actually pitching your product or service to a business (as mentioned above). You aren't marketing to a robot either. Inside every business is a person or team that you're marketing to, and just like other businesses need to reach out to the people in their audience, your B2B marketing needs to connect to the people at the companies you target.
And those people are listening to the radio, watching TV, reading news articles and online, and pretty much doing everything an average consumer would be doing.
4. B2B Marketing Has Different Needs and Requirements Than B2C Marketing
As we just mentioned, a business is not an elusively formal entity that requires special and especially dry pitches. You're still conducting marketing, and you're still marketing to people. That inherently implies that the marketing tactics that work on consumers will also work for business-oriented people.
The key is, of course, remembering to tailor the format and language of your message to target your audience appropriately. This doesn't just mean your content, it also means your medium. No two customers, and no two companies, are exactly alike, which means a one-size-fits-all approach is not going to accurately meet their needs.
5. Social Media Is Useless for B2B Marketing
This is flatly untrue. Correcting your understanding about the ROI determinations is only the first step to understanding how important social media is for your marketing. First, let's take a look at a few statistics:
Of the most common lead-generating sources, SEO has the most successful close rate at 15%, and social media should be an intrinsic part of boosting your SEO.
77% of buyers say that they're more likely to make purchases from a company who's CEO uses social media regularly.
65% of B2B companies have acquired at least one customer through LinkedIn.
With only 27% of B2B leads ready to close quickly, lead nurturing is required for the majority, which can be greatly assisted by aspects of social media.
Of course, you need to select which social media channels are right for your company and for your customers. Each channel should be used to its strength, as well. Take MAERSK and OPENTEXT, for example. The Danish shipping company, MAERSK, has a LinkedIn profile that posts about company culture and job vacancies, while its Instagram account encourages every day people to share images of their ships in action. It also hasn't hesitated to take up a number of social media platforms, from the standards like Facebook and Twitter to relative newcomers like Tumblr. OPENTEXT, on the other hand, used a two-phase lead nurturing program that led to opportunities worth $1.8 million.
Reaching your target audience is the key, and that should be your guiding principle. That means embracing all the tools at your disposal, whether that means tapping into the emotions of the client company's team or reaching them through social media. With the new perspective we've provided, you should be able to increase the success of your B2B marketing.