How do you fix B2B marketing that misses the mark ?
Updated: Apr 3
The short answer: remember you're talking to people.
There’s a lot of talk about the march of the robots. AI and machine learning making people’s jobs redundant. But, if we’re honest, businesses aren’t leaving buying decisions to AI.
The office Alexa isn’t being tasked with deciding which cloud storage solution to use. Companies aren’t asking Siri to choose their office desks. Whether you’re selling physical products or business services, you’re still selling to people.
But ‘people’ is an incredibly broad term. It’s not enough for businesses to simply acknowledge that it’s a human on the end of the phone or an email.
If you write to them like they're male, pale and stale boomers. If you fail to show you understand their challenges. And, if you neglect the magic of storytelling, your marketing will fall short.
Know who you’re selling to
Understanding who the main B2B buyers are is essential in this day and age, where we all have access to a greater volume of information than ever before.
There is at least one millennial on 82% of B2B buying committees. That’s according to Brian Fanzo, founder of iSocialFanz. Speaking at the B2B Marketing Exchange earlier this year, he stressed the importance of learning how to communicate with this demographic. A generation of key decision-makers who aren't yet 40.
Businesses have access to an unprecedented amount of information about their clients. One of the best ways to learn about who you’re selling to is to pay attention to how they interact with you on social platforms like LinkedIn.
What content do they like or comment on? Do they interact more readily with videos? Do they want long-form thought leadership pieces or short blogs?
The younger they are, the more likely they are to enjoy sharing stuff on social platforms. If you want to know more about millennial style, check out our fun post on the subject.
You can also start to build up a picture of individual business buyers by having a conversation with them. Look at their posts on social media. Read the comments they leave you. Find out more about their lives when you make a courtesy call.
Understanding your audience will help you reach them. When you dig deeper than just someone’s job title, you can more easily work out the best language to use.
What subject line will not only make them open an email, but remember your business’ brand? Which metaphors will speak to them over the usual corporate jargon?
These are all small tweaks, but they can make a significant difference.
Why is this such a challenge?
You might be thinking, ‘It shouldn’t be this hard’, and you’re right. Why do businesses that operate in the B2B space seem to find it so hard to make human connections?
It’s because they forget that they’re talking to other people, not other brands.
Research from Forrester last year found that a lack of empathy in content is the key culprit.
It evaluated 60 websites across 12 industries and revealed that nearly every one scored poorly.
It might also be that outdated SEO practices play a role. Cramming as many keywords as possible into web pages used to be how to boost your search engine results. The likes of Google’s Hummingbird update have put an end to that.
These days, context is everything. This means you can write about a subject without having to use the same key phrase over and over again, and Google’s bots will still find it. What’s more, they’ll place higher value on your content if it’s something people want to read.
That means you need to make your content interesting enough that someone will want to read more.
You need to engage them with your brand and the services or products you supply.
You need to show them that you understand the problems they’re facing in their daily working lives and can fix them.
Are you sitting comfortably?
What’s the antidote to dull and boring B2B writing? Stories.
We all love a good story, and it’s stories that make your brand, products and services stand out.
How did they come to life? What inspired you to set up your business? Why does your way of doing things align with people’s values?
Think about the kinds of customers you want to attract and what stories will appeal to them. Is your audience concerned about sustainability? Do they want to do more to tackle climate change? Are they keen to prioritise local suppliers?
Finding these stories and weaving them into your content will help you make personal connections with the buyers you’re trying to reach. Remember that the majority of B2B buyers are millennials. One of the qualities they look for in a brand is authenticity.
You need to think about how you can bring that to the fore. Open up and be transparent about where you come from and where you’re going. All of this will not only attract new customers but also build loyalty among your existing ones.
If you’re not sure how to tap into the personal side of your B2B brand, that’s where people like us come in. Professional writers are experts when it comes to sniffing out a story. But more than that, we can tease out the details and weave them into your wider branding and marketing efforts.
We understand how to create empathetic content that speaks to your audience, whoever they may be.
Just because you’re a B2B company, that doesn’t mean you have to be shy and hide behind a corporate façade. Shout about your stories. Show your customers the people behind the business. You might be surprised by the response you get.