Within B2B marketing, there often exists a belief that the type of personalized content and emotional tactics embraced in B2C markets won’t work in business-to-business settings. That is a huge mistake.
The difference between B2B and B2C marketing is not in how you address your target group. After all, we are all just people, whether we are buying a pair of sneakers or a paper-pulp machine. There is no reason that the communications for the paper machine should be more boring or predictable than the one for the shoes.
The real difference in B2B marketing – whether you are selling pulp to P&G, an industrial robot to Toyota or a truck to a global company like Schenker – is that there are a large number of influencers and decision makers, often hundreds, along the way. And unless you take the time to understand and define the role each of these buyer personas has in influencing the purchase decision, you’ll be creating your content and marketing efforts in the dark.
The difference between B2B and B2C is not how you address your target group. We are all just people whether we buy a pair of sneakers or a paper machine, and there is no reason why the communication for the paper machine should be more boring or predictable than the one for the shoes.
Reaching decision makers
Typically, in B2B sales, the salesperson only wants to meet with the decision maker, but all the communication leading up to that point – the content that other members of the team who influence the shortlist of products the final decision makers see – is important as well.
Creating communication that reaches the right audiences and impacts their purchase decisions, stems from creating brand recognition in the marketplace. Understanding the wants, needs and challenges of each of the personas, and being able to address them with affective content, is part of a long-term strategic approach to marketing.
Often, the final decision maker high up in the buying organization doesn’t really understand all the details about what makes your product unique. Does the CEO care about the USPs for your lab technology or whether the machine using your robotics tool is x-percent faster than the competitor? Probably not.
The C-level decision makers are only concerned with the bottom line: the cost or ROI a purchase delivers. But how can you differentiate your product based on that?
How do you differentiate between a bus from Volvo or one from Scania? You would have to pull in a ton of experts, and even the experts won’t each be able to understand every component.
The short answer is you shouldn’t. Your product’s unique selling proposition and the benefits that matter to the personas who influence which products get shortlisted along the way to the final decision-maker are important. What matters here is trust: trust in the brand. And trust is an EMOTIONAL reaction, not a fact-based one.
The right message for the right audience
So how do you efficiently reach all these people with the right message? Large B2B companies such as Boeing, Cisco and Oracle have not become market leaders by offering the lowest prices in each industry. Instead, they have offered added value in the form of reliability, innovation and… emotional connection.
You need to tailor your communication flows to your customer’s needs and behavior. The online customer journey is not a fast track. So, as your customers move in and out of the sales funnel, your messages need to follow suit.
Who are the personas in the company who will champion your product to the final decision makers because it makes their job easier? What are their titles, names, preferences, day-to-day needs? What have you communicated to them along the way in the purchase decision about your product’s unique benefits?
Understand the buying cycle
Unlike the old marketing approach with interruption marketing where you constantly expose yourself to the customer through advertising (probably at the wrong time in their buying cycle), content marketing does not focus on converting website visitors to immediate sales for specific products or services. The strategy is instead to provide potential and existing customers with relevant, informative and engaging information at the right time in the buying cycle to fit their needs.
Since there is no direct sales pressure, both prospects and customers are more receptive to the content. This approach gives customers a better understanding of how your products might support their needs, both today and in the future.
With this helpful, education-based strategy, your target group will eventually develop both trust and connection with your company, and your products and services. This, in turn, raises your position in the industry, which ultimately leads to steady growth in both revenue and market share.
Content marketing reaches its target audiences through a variety of marketing channels, from conventional media such as educational articles, blog posts and emails to progressive media such as podcasts, webinars and videos. Whether you have an in-house content team or hire an agency, it's just like Bill Gates once said, that content is king.
Defining a good content strategy
As we noted, a good content strategy is not just about selling a product or service. It’s about creating content that positions your company more broadly in the market. A content strategy:
- Establishes business leaders and organizations as thought leaders
- Demonstrates authority and reliability
- Generates leads
- Strengthens SEO
- Builds an informed user base
There is more to content marketing than just bombarding the world with your content. You need to be savvy in your choice of content, channel and timing. And you need an ongoing process that delivers results and fits your organization.
Creating a content marketing strategy
Digital communications and the internet have fundamentally changed the way we find and trust in information. Creating an effective content strategy means defining your personas, creating effective content to attract them through online channels (including search and social), promoting your content via social media and other channels, using tools such as marketing automation to plan, distribute and measure your efforts.
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