In very simple terms: consumer marketing pros understand that it’s all about the customer. But frequently in b2b (and especially in the tech sector) the primary focus in on the product. As a result, basic marketing principles are often overlooked. Rather than delve into theories about why that is, I thought it would be more useful to outline what those often are.
1) ALL EFFECTIVE MARKETING BEGINS WITH SMART BRAND STRATEGY.
I’m still surprised at the number of b2b brands that come to us with a project in mind that don’t have a clear, concise brand positioning or strategy. Everything begins with determining who is at the core of the target audience and why your product or service should be important to them. The best strategy is always based on customer research. Before you begin on a new website, a new banner ad campaign or even a new name for the company, the brand strategy has to be articulated and agreed upon.
2) EVERYTHING YOUR BRAND DOES SHOULD BE CUSTOMER-CENTRIC.
When you state this, it seems like a real no-brainer right? But the fact is many b2b brands go to great lengths to describe how their product works. You see all kinds of charts and graphs and images on the website describing just what the product does. But what’s missing is anything that brings to life what the customer’s experience with the product will be. This is at the heart of consumer marketing, and it applies to every b2b brand as well.
3) YOUR B2B PROSPECT IS ALSO A CONSUMER.
The b2b prospect is a human being, not a bot. Your potential customer responds to the same things that appeal to a consumer target: High production value in videos and animation. Humor. Stories that resonate. Graphics that don’t look like a thousand others. Photographs that convey emotion. Selling that sparks the imagination.
4) YOU HAVE TO INVEST MONEY TO MAKE MONEY.
Recently we were in discussions with a potential b2b client with a range of products that started at $75K, and went to about $250K for a complete system. We immediately noticed that the current product photography looked very sub-standard, and were told that the photos were done in-house because the CEO thought ‘hiring a professional photographer was far too expensive’. We simply don’t understand this kind of logic.
Here’s the bottom line: Every image, photo, video, infographic and line of copy of your website reflects what your brand stands for. It takes about 10 seconds for someone to develop a first impression of your brand. What are your visual assets instantly communicating?
5) BEWARE OF STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY.
The most important thing for any b2b brand is to immediately communicate what makes them different. Why should the prospect choose you over another competitor? When you use standard stock images you’re telling the world that you’re just like everyone else. There is no sense of individuality or differentiation. Original photography has the potential to bring your brand vision to life. It’s a unique image. No other business can use it. It could be one of the most important investments your business ever makes.
6) IT’S ALL MARKETING.
Maybe you have a logo that the CEO likes from fifteen years ago. But to most prospects, it probably looks like an outdated company. What does your business card say about your brand? How do the bio photos of your managers look on your website – contemporary – or more like the 1980s? Have you produced a short, entertaining video that quickly tells your target what makes your brand stand apart? Are you taking advantage of opportunities to showcase news and events on LinkedIn? What about YouTube? You have to lead the conversation everywhere, otherwise, one of your competitors will.