Marketing to consumers does have its pitfalls but many would say that trying to sell a B2B business is typically far more difficult… and it’s not that hard to see why. The target market is usually a lot smaller so competition is more intense, since businesses buying certain products aren’t doing so because they like them and want to have a bit of a shopping spree… Take a fine silk shirt as an example. Companies buying these up are doing so simply to add value so goods and services can be moved further down the supply chain until they reach the end user, typically the general public.
B2B marketing is all about making sure you meet the needs of other businesses, which can certainly be tricky to master. Target markets are constantly changing, so motivations and interests will be constantly evolving as well, and different people within that market have different ideas they’re keen to pursue, whether it’s getting a good deal, low risk products or high throughput and so on.
A few years ago, Google research and insight arm Think With Google carried out a survey to find out what’s changed in the B2B market between 2013 and 2015, with shifts in how buying decisions are made and also who takes responsibility for these being revealed.
It was found, for example, that targeting the highest level executives isn’t nearly as effective now as it was in the past because 24 per cent of non-C Suite employees have final sign off, with 81 per cent actually having a say in purchase decisions. The conclusion was drawn that B2B influencers are most likely younger than expected and it’s vital that brands make sure they’re reaching them wherever they are and that they’re providing them with the kind of content that they’re looking for.
“That means stepping up the intensity in your search, mobile, and video efforts. Delivering content-rich mobile and video experiences is now critical to successfully reaching your B2B customers and moving them through the path to purchase,” the report stated.
So what can you do to make your B2B business seem more approachable? The Young Entrepreneur Council recently asked 12 small business owners how they’d market their business effectively and the answers were certainly enlightening.
For example, Elle Kaplan from LexION Capital suggested that the human touch can actually be counter-productive and appear robotic. Making a phone call when an email would have been sufficient is time-wasting – and it’s important to remember that potential customers are also busy people as well.
Richard Kershaw of WhoIsHostingThis.com, meanwhile, recommended being as authentic as possible and removing stock photos from websites, replacing them with the names and faces of those at the company instead.
Further to this, Diego Orjuela from Cables & Sensors suggested humanising the brand through the use of behind-the-scenes videos so that business transactions are transparent but so too are the people who work there.
We’ve undertaken extensive research in this subject. To read more about how B2B companies are changing the way they interact with their customers, download the latest Innovation Monitor.