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4 overlooked B2B strategies

Marketing for B2B (business-to-business) is different than for B2C (business-to-consumer) in several ways you may not have considered.

We’re all bombarded by B2C marketing, so it’s easy to see concepts in those messages and expect them to work just as effectively for B2B.

B2C ideas may not translate well to B2B.


Though many consider B2B decisions to be logical and deliberate, the final act of a B2B purchase can be more emotional than a quick consumer goods purchase. The cost of a B2B product or service is often a lot higher than a B2C deliverable. Multiple stakeholders may be involved in the final decision. Since the stakes are higher and more people take part, emotions can be intense. And your reputation may be on the line around the outcome of the decision.

To help you take better B2B marketing actions, here are four specific action steps:

  • Marketing emails: Give just one call to action per email. Your audience is typically too busy and distracted to deal with more than one. And adding more than one will decrease the chances of the reader taking any action.
  • Social media posts and PPC ads: Focus on the needs of your audience rather than great things coming out of your perception of your offering. An example of this approach is to highlight a common problem your audience faces and provide your solution.
  • Sharing content: Mobilize your company. After you create great content, ask everyone to share that content. People sharing content get eight times more engagement than content coming straight from a brand. We trust friends more than we trust brands.
  • Blog posts and website articles: Since a B2B purchase often follows a long pipeline, saturate the ground slowly by providing smaller chunks of content. Your customer’s journey from awareness to consideration to a decision requires content focusing on each phase.

Use these ideas and you will more effectively reach your audience. Contact us for help implementing these concepts into your marketing plan.

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It’s the little things

Apple designed the operating system for their computers so that users can display a different desktop for each monitor.

Microsoft designed their operating system so that both desktops must be the same.

Admittedly, probably only 0.5% of Mac users ever apply different desktops to each monitor, but at least they have that capability.

Those users want to individualize their computing experience. Many workers spend 40+ hours a week in front of their monitors, so that small control can contribute to their quality of life, even though in a very small way.


Attention to detail can help your business to:

  1. Retain current customers
  2. Attract new customers
  3. Help your current customers become evangelists for your product or service

Homework: brainstorm with your team about ways you can add an extra touch that says you care.

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Head vs. heart

As Google bought Fitbit, the benefits of analog and digital watches came to mind.

Analog watches have unmatched appeal for those who appreciate mechanical excellence. Nothing compares to the beauty of a handcrafted object. A simple appliance can be elevated from pure function to the realm of art.

Billionaires fill their display cases with timepieces made by Patek Philippe and IWC – and not Apple Watches.

But the Apple Watch has beauties beyond appearance. At a glance, you can see the temperature outside, weather forecast, stock prices, what’s next on your schedule – and more.

I’d argue that we need both art and science – both in business and in our personal lives.

A well-run business has team members that focus on the technical aspects of their offerings and those who focus on the art of their offerings.

Customers need to connect with the heart and soul of your business – not just your effective functionality.

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Kneejerk Design

Designers love to change things. And that’s not always a good thing.

The latest trend in website and app typography is Arial Light, all mashed together. (See left, below.)

kneejerk-design

Many websites have adopted the mashed-together type. Google (right) has not.

The very simple moral of the story is that if something works well, don’t change it just to be like everyone else.

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The Details Matter

Google Offers adsGoogle sends me emails once a day. Their Offers program is a lot like Groupon. But sadly, they must hire interns to create Offers email ads. Or maybe businesses have the ability to create those ads. Several details were missed: a bad photo of a stack of blank DVD cases – and a click through – did not reveal what sort of Monthly Cricket Bill was advertised. And the man changing the oil appears to be under a lot of pressure from the weight of the car.

When something says Google at the top, recipients have certain expectations. Quality is one, and these ads did not deliver. Even though Google’s Offers program might be one of their smallest sources of revenue, it still reflects on their image.

Maintaining a high level of quality across everything you offer can be challenging. Stakeholders demand more and more products and levels of service. Delivery times are growing shorter and shorter. Profit margins can be razor-thin.

Sometimes a choice must be made: wide offerings with low quality or narrow offerings with high quality. Another alternative is to grow slowly enough that you have the proper infrastructure in place before you launch each new initiative.

Which way will you go?

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Stay Relevant

Blackberry phoneBlackberry is in the process of dying. I was surprised to see a recent Wall Street Journal editorial shouting the virtues of an old Blackberry phone. Mr. Allan Ripp declared to the whole world that he is not relevant within his chosen profession, press relations.

His rant against smartphones was similar to shouting in 1980 that personal computers were not a good thing. The tide has turned toward smartphones, and he needs to learn or die. It would be one thing if Mr. Ripp were in a profession unrelated to communication. Unless he experiences how many people consume news today, he will not provide press releases that work properly on smartphones.

This is not a rant against Allan Ripp. Rather, it’s a reminder to stay relevant. Be willing to try new technologies with an open mind. “Everybody’s doing it” is not a reason for you to join in, but it is a reason for you to understand what they are doing. If you want to communicate with fish, you need to learn how to swim.

Photo: Creative Commons licensed from langleyo.

Note: The Wall Street Journal’s full story (linked above) is blocked by a paywall. If you are a WSJ subscriber, you can read the full story. But all you need to know is in this little blog post.