Tuesday, October 18, 2011

There’s No Such Thing as B2B Marketing

The term “Business to business” or B2B has defined an entire category of companies whose customers are other businesses, not consumers. Whether wholesalers, accounting services, law offices or thousands of others, their marketing is tailored to another business and, by definition, do not market to a consumer. Or do they?

There is really no way a company can market to another company. Marketing doesn’t work like that. They can create a unique product or service, build a branding concept around it, but the target is always a real live person, who sees a million messages a day and buys hundreds of consumer branded products every week. Messages should be created with a person in mind, not a company.

So why nitpick the words? Using the term B2B marketing lets the marketer off the hook in both understanding the true nature (building insights) of the individual making the decision, their real decision process as well as appropriately measuring the response to the proposition and messaging. While “closing a sale” is often the single metric to measure effectiveness of the entire B2B marketing process, it gives no indication of repeatability without a solid understanding of the emotional triggers that went into that decision. Most markets are saturated with competitors and are difficult, at best, and unprofitable, at worst, to compete on product and price alone.

Strengthening Marketing Campaign to Consumers who are also Business Decision Makers

1. Identify the person who is the ultimate decision maker (you know that one already)

2. Identify the emotional decisions and insights that go into his/her decision – Emotions and underlying issues such as admiration, understanding, acceptance, joy, pride, etc. play a far more important role than the service being offered, which tends to be generic. The buyer will disagree if asked, but they are wrong.

3. Find out where the buyer gets the most input for decisions – Sources of real information are more likely colleagues, friends, the boss, spouse, etc. Ask yourself, once you have heard of a product, how do you confirm the service is right for you? People tend to seek affirmation from other people as to whether there is a fit to satisfy your needs. Understanding and controlling word of mouth dialogue is important. Another point – broad social media platforms are best used to help provide affirmation, but have little value in closing a sale (unless the transaction is repeat business or price-based commodity purchases).

4. Build the message around the insights and make it personal, – Be sure that the message is tailored to the emotional needs of a person as well as how they get confirming data.

5. Measure for the right long-term response metrics - Just like consumer measurement, the key metrics can be attitudinal measures around phrases such as “I trust you”, “you are responsive to my needs”, “your products do what you say the do”, “I like you”, “you are like me”, “you get the hassles of my job”, “You are there when I am having a tough time” are good reactions to measure – and far better than product delivery and price.

While the designation of B2B is useful when building a useful product or service that solves a business need, effective marketing is always based on treating the decision maker like you know them personally and understand their needs.

7 comments:

Cheryl Summers said...

A professionally crafted buy logos is one of the greatest blessings for a company; whether it is big or small. It gives them an identity of their own and makes them different from others.

Micheal Kelvin said...

I have been to your site before. The more I take in, the more I keep coming back! ;~)
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Mike Watson said...

Interesting logic! I never though about this in this manner.

Good work sir.

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Bob Clark said...

@Michael and @Mike - thanks for the kind words. Keep on reading!

David Hudson said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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