In the real world, we all know that brick buildings don’t make purchase decisions, people do. Humanizing the brand and creating messages about people to reach a potential buyer is how B2B marketers build engagement with customers and prospects.
Consider all the fact- and emotion-based variables that go into buying technology. What is the relationship with a vendor’s employees? Is the company fun and easy to work with? Are they customer-focused and genuinely interested in the success of the customer? Or are they fixated on their products, features and functionality. Are they selling technology or are they selling customer insights and solutions to their pain points?
In the business world, story-telling is king.
These days, it’s no longer effective to create content marketing filled with company-centric technical terms or product-centric features. This is the biggest mistake that technology companies continue to make.
Rather, customers and prospects want to hear buyer-centric, educational stories that revolve around their needs, and learn the value that other similar people and companies have realized from that vendor’s products or services. Most importantly, buyers want to know how the vendor can assist them to solve their pain points, thereby benefitting their business. Overall, B2B marketing can only generate results if the vendor’s stories are relevant to the target audience and outward-focused.
Create buyer-centric content.
B2B marketers need to get out of their offices and be in the market, with customers and prospects — live with them, learn from them, and know that competition isn’t won from a desk but understanding the buyer in their market. References and success stories are key and the most convincing story you can tell is one tailored to address the buyer’s problem, from the buyer’s perspective, and how they can use YOU to solve that problem.
While insights, understanding and making the right decisions are crucial, Big Data means nothing if analyses of your B2B tactics can’t reveal big insights into the results of your lead generation campaigns and conversion rates. B2B marketers should test, track and analyze their campaign data and make fact-based decisions based on insights and understanding of the market and the customer, not only their own product and technology portfolio.
And there’s no reason why B2B marketing should be boring. Instead, your content should be as engaging, exciting and creative as anybody’s marketing, whether you’re selling technology or consumer products. People want to get excited and make connections, understand and be understood. Quite often, people look at what technology can do for them, how it can help them solve their problems and become more successful in their roles. In this quest, they are looking for a partner, not a vendor, and will only engage in a long-term partnership if they like the other side. Often times, engagement sometimes means that it’s better to be part of a conversation – and not owning and driving the conversation — which is something different for many B2B marketers, particularly technology companies that have been preoccupied with creating product-centric content.
Many technology companies are very inward-focused, looking at the world through a technology lens and doing everything based on what they think is right and important. The old “build it and they will buy it” mantra is still prevalent in many B2B environments and so it is the marketer’s biggest opportunity and challenge to turn an inward focus into an outward one, help the company take on a market and customer perspective, and put buyers first.
Generally speaking, the role of Marketing, whether it’s B2B or B2C, is about the ways people interact with technology. Here are some straight-forward ways to do this:
- Be the voice of the market inside the company
- Champion the overall customer experience across all touchpoints
- Be the brand steward
- Drive an insights- and fact-based decision-making culture
- Align the entire organization behind a market and customer focus
- Be a positive change agent and help others to step out of the old B2B mantra