B2B marketing has always been thought of as highly technical and crafted for a more sophisticated audience that was less focused on emotion and more driven by other things. Some B2B marketing can be lackluster, diving deep into the weeds with the expectation that the sophisticated human looking at what you’re promoting will be discerning enough to understand complex nuance in a quick image. I don’t believe that is the case.
A friend and fellow B2B marketer, Kevin Brown the CMO of Onbe, a digital payments company, recently said to me, ‘at the end of the day, we are all trying to sell things for our organisation. Whether it’s Skittles or Insurance, you need to make it compelling”.
B2B marketers do face unique challenges – crowded marketplaces, small nuances, time strapped clients, often a lack of category level awareness. For example, a consumer might think ‘why do I need this new, never before seen product when my business is running ok without it?’. I believe B2B marketers still have to inspire and appeal to human emotion.
In today’s fast-paced world, the amount of content and advertising aimed at marketers is overwhelming – an endless onslaught of information designed to prove each product or service is ‘the one’. In technical sectors there is a tendency to ‘blind with science’ – that is, to focus on the in-depth specifications of a product to prove its worth. But, let’s be honest – does your business audience really care about your tech, or the science behind it? No. Nobody cares about your tech.
So how can you create compelling content when marketing to marketers?
Human relationships are the building blocks for business success. This means building a brand that people want to engage with, by appealing to the human inside the marketer to evoke emotion. By aligning your brand with good, relevant causes and by being more conscious of the communities and greater world around you, is a step in the right direction.
For example, recent research that we carried out on consumer and brand values shows that consumers actually prefer to buy from brands committed to socially conscious causes – demanding transparency, authenticity and relevant/relatable communications from the brands they engage with.
Speak the Language
Marketing is essentially about communication. B2B marketers are not developers or data analysts. If you are authentic in your approach and have proven results, there is no need to delve into the complex technicalities of a product. Keeping language simple to focus on the idea and the benefits, rather than the functionality, is imperative.
One thing my boss always says to me is ‘make sure it passes the martian test’. The idea is that if a martian landed from Mars, he or she would be able to understand your message. If it’s too complex to understand the basic theme or idea, it’s too complex for your marketing.
Think Outside the Box
What are slogans that have stuck with you since childhood? Commercials you’ll never forget? One of the best B2B marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen involved an insurance company that created a Compare the Meerkat site with Meerkats that was actually a white label site for comparing insurance. Something that was boring and could have gotten only a few people to visit instead became a huge success. An ad that caught my eye recently was a company that made work so easy that people would just hug their bosses unsolicited. Ideas that grab your attention are not solely for marketing to consumers. After all, marketers are people at the end of the day.
My biggest success to date in marketing was when Covid hit and we could no longer do events in person – we pivoted. My team created a YouTube show interviewing other marketers and doing a ‘news of the week’ roundup of the latest in my industry. Product is not easy nor inexpensive, but for less than my monthly event budget, I now have a digital show that can connect globally with marketing and advertising executives. Check it out on YouTube if you’re looking for new ways to connect with audiences.
To sum it up, my advice for B2B marketers is to not let the idea of marketing to marketers stop you from pushing the boundaries and testing new ideas. And for Pete’s sake, no one cares about your damn tech.