It’s time to dispel a misconception that business-to-business marketing (B2B) is business-to-consumer’s (B2C) unattractive cousin – where dry technical content leads the way, and creativity takes a back seat.
This couldn’t be more wrong. B2B marketing – whatever the sector – still needs to grab attention, resonate, and drive action. Its consumers may be businesspeople, but they are still consumers – and people!
This is precisely why, as a global content marketing agency with a diverse portfolio of B2B clients, we always start from a consumer point of view.
We recognise the importance of crafting B2B messages that appeal to the emotional needs and psychology of the target audience, just as with B2C.
And, far from easing off on the creativity and dynamism, we focus on developing creative B2B brand concepts with real intelligence, nuance and staying power.
Here are some of our top tips to help market-leading international B2B brands make an impact.
Your starting point for every client and campaign is really getting to know both the audience’s make-up and market context, and its motivations and pain points.
While profiling who you’re targeting may sound like an advertising cliché, fully understanding who you’re speaking to is central to a successful B2B approach.
Leave no stone unturned in your considerations. Whether it’s audience demographic and motivations – are millennials or Generation Z influential here? – geography or language, there are multiple factors informing how a person might respond to – and best receive – a B2B message.
Understanding the business context of your audience is also key, both as a segment and as individuals. This includes assessing the current ‘hot topics’ and future trends within a sector, plus the challenges and opportunities businesses’ employees and stakeholders face.
Seek to understand not just the day-to-day concerns of your audience, but also their sphere of influence in the decision-making and purchasing process.
Beyond the ‘what’ to communicate, is the ‘where’. Consider search behaviour, communication channels and media target audience. This is key to impactful content and a successful distribution strategy.
Developing a brand concept that really stands out relies on two key elements. Firstly, what others – competitors, partners, even comparable businesses in other sectors – are saying in the B2B space and, secondly, what sets you apart.
Build this out by looking at your current position and direction of travel. This should be both in terms of what you are saying externally across the marketing mix, and the internal view.
This helps refine how a company sees itself, its offer, and where it’s headed. It highlights what it considers its strengths or relevance against the competition, and how it wants to be viewed within the market. In short, it draws out the emotional, human connection.
Establishing a core, people-focused narrative provides a solid basis for shaping a B2B response and telling a story in a way that is compelling, authentic and ultimately helpful to the chosen audience.
Sometimes the wider brand-building values of B2B marketing can be lost amid short-term goals for gaining leads or hitting sales targets.
While tracking a campaign’s success against its key performance indicators is important, try to focus on the long game.
Short-term B2B campaigns offer added value when they are a connected part of the broader brand picture and experience, by reinforcing or enhancing standing within your customer base.
For us, every short-term B2B campaign is a long-term brand building opportunity.
When it comes to nailing the creative, be every bit as dynamic and fearless as you see in the B2C sphere.
Look beyond B2B borders to draw inspiration from everywhere, every sector and discipline, to arrive at creative concepts that disrupt, resonate and last.
Ultimately, the B2B/B2C divide is irrelevant. Delivering content marketing that makes your target audience sit up, and take notice and action is what really matters.