Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Does Marketing B2B Need 2 B Blasé?

A: No.

Note: I originally posted this article on DMNews and again on The Customer Collective, it’s a message that bears repeating. With 2012 upon us, we’re all back at the drawing table; planning out next year’s marketing strategies. Don’t bore your audience just because you’re marketing B2B.
If you're anything like me and marketing business to business, you have probably instinctively traded graphic-intensive, colorful sales collateral for stoic, straightforward and very often exceedingly dry content. That content is typically rich with articulate product information. We need to ask ourselves — is this knee-jerk approach to communicating value coming across as mundane and uninteresting? Are you boring your audience to an extent that it is affecting sales?

As a marketer of professional products and services, you believe that your brand value is complex and cryptic. You assume the more verbose and in depth you communicate your significance, the more likely your product is to be comprehended, trusted and ultimately purchased by your valuable customers and prospects.

Put yourself on the other side of the table for a minute. As a vendor, partner or customer, have you ever struggled to digest a long-winded case study or what seemed to be endless paragraphs of dull product specifications?  While no one can discount the confidence added detail provides for many of your prospects, what you can't quantify are the prospective buyers who are driven away by the information overload in your marketing materials.

Marketing 101 teaches us that if you want to gain attention and ultimately generate loyalty among your customers, brand “stickiness” is often just as important as product quality. 

This lesson seems to have been lost on business-to-business marketers.

We are all consumers, right? 

Put your intrinsic preference for the balance between statistical detail and visual stimuli aside. The inclusion of both is fundamental in growing your business with both types of customers you are targeting. 

So how can you begin to change your focus?

Break the mold. Get creative. You can start by augmenting the tools you already possess. Break behemoth case studies down into smaller, concise pieces that are terse by design and make them easier to digest for your customer or prospect in one sitting.  Develop intuitive graphics and work-flows that clarify and “tangibilize” even the most complex solutions. 

Infuse color. Grab attention with color and graphics that represent your brand. These will generate excitement and create a brand personality, and that will be more memorable for your audience. Test clever tag-lines or rhythmic jingles. Build consistency with the repetition of graphics and pictures.  This is the glue that binds us and pulls us towards one brand compared with another.  

Personality breeds relateability. In a crowded, mature business-to-business market, it may be the fix you need to break through the clutter and add excitement to your brand and incremental dollars to the bottom line.

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