The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.
B2B marketing is all about marketing to people
Many marketers shy away from the B2B sector as it has a reputation for being somewhat mundane. And mundane subjects can make marketers’ jobs more difficult. How inventive can you be trying to market a piece of software, right?
On the contrary, B2C marketing is seen as a much more exciting and creative endeavour which marketers thrive upon. It’s much easier to sell a product that can pretty much sell itself!
But, despite the fact that B2B marketing differs from B2C in a number of ways, at the end of the day, in both cases, you’re really just marketing to people. And when you’re in the depths of B2B marketing, it’s easy to forget that.
With that in mind, it’s time to cater your B2B marketing efforts to real people. Here’s how you embrace the humanity in the B2B sector.
Don’t be scared of Instagram
B2B businesses tend to gravitate towards LinkedIn because that’s where they assume they’re supposed to be. And whilst LinkedIn is a fantastic channel for the B2B sector, discounting the likes of Instagram dramatically reduces your reach. Research has shown that brands get 20 times more engagement on Instagram than on Linkedin, so you’d be foolish not to utilise the power of this channel.
Instagram is a chance for B2B brands to showcase their humanity and provides potential clients and customers with a glimpse into company culture and behind the scenes activities.
Adobe’s account is a great example of a B2B brand who are killing it on Instagram. Theirs serves as a source of inspiration for their followers and they regularly invite users within their community to submit their own content. Currently, they’re supporting Earth Month with the #Adobe_Wild hashtag which has allowed them to curate a stunning feed. It also means that anyone who supports this cause is likely to respond and relate well to Adobe as a brand:
Inject some personality into your content
According to B2B Marketing Lab, “the average buyer guides themselves through as much as 60% to 80% of the purchase decision process – reading blogs, eBooks, case studies, white papers and other marketing collateral – before even contacting a salesperson.” With this in mind, your content has a lot of work to do. Whilst it’s important to inform and educate your audience about your product or service, going beyond that with your content can really set you apart from your competitors. Provide a mix of guides, blogs and videos to keep your audience engaged.
Remember that the company you’re marketing to is headed up by people. People who have lives outside of work. People with families, interests and hobbies. If your content is devoid of any emotion and personality, you’re going to sound like everyone else in your field.
MailChimp combine images, GIFs, videos, artwork and photo collections that feels like you’re mixing business with pleasure:
Harness the power of influencers
The B2C market has become quite saturated with influencer marketing; you can’t go online without seeing a famous name promoting a new range of trainers or the latest detox tea brand. On first glance it may not seem like the B2B sector is suited to this form of marketing, however when B2B marketers manage to crack the world of influencer marketing, it has been proven to deliver 11x higher ROI than other forms of digital marketing.
Granted, it’s not as simple as sending your product to a Love Island winner and paying them to post it on Instagram. It’s likely that your product or service is of a higher value than most B2C products and is probably less glamorous which makes it much more difficult to invite an impulsive purchase.
However B2B influencers bring their genuine opinions and expertise to the table and can help B2B businesses reach customers they might not have found otherwise. Nobody wants to be the first person to try a product or service, they want to see that businesses like them (or businesses they aspire to be) have tested the water first.
Instagram is a great place of course but look beyond that. Are there are niche industry blogs, trade publications, journalists, or general ‘names’ in your industry that you can reach out to?
American Express has implemented various influencer marketing campaigns to acquire corporate clients.
It created the successful "Love My Store" campaign to increase orders and placement of AmEx signage among small businesses nationwide:
And the #AmexAmbassador campaign also uses influencers to help them attract executives and businesses for their premium services. For example Platinum cardholders enjoy complimentary access to Centurion Lounges at airports around the country:
When B2B brands start marketing like B2C businesses, it can really differentiate them for the rest of their competitors.
B2B marketing may seem like a daunting task but if you remember that at the end of the day, you’re really just marketing to people, it can free you from the confines of what B2B marketing is “supposed to be.”
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