Not too long ago I was talking digital channel selection and social media in B2B marketing with a client, and they were a little bit hesitant. Understandable, you might think, after all, we don’t talk to ‘consumers’ the way we talk to ‘businesses’ right? Isn’t social media just where you go to find cute cat videos and memes that make you lol?
They’re not alone in thinking this way. Traditionally, we’ve thought of Business to Business communication as one entity talking to another. If you didn’t just picture a leather briefcase somewhere in that mental image you’re a stronger person than I am. However, what we tend to forget is that any communication between businesses is actually a conversation between people, and it’s those people who are making the decision whether or not to engage with you.
When you think of it this way, emotions like trust, image, confidence and leadership all come into play. How very human. In fact, this emotional connection can be even more intense than one made during a Business to Consumer interaction. After all, the people making decisions in this context have a lot more riding on the outcome than the average consumer. They’re not just deciding which pair of jeans to buy they’re making calls for their entire organisation. If it goes wrong, they risk losing profit, credibility, even their job.
How do you win decision makers when you may never meet them face-to-face?
Having a strong brand identity demonstrates better financial performance, which will give the decision makers less reason to worry. And having clear brand values will give them an understanding of the kind of people behind the business and convince them it’s a company they can trust with their own company’s money and productivity. This is just as important as your offer or quality of your product.
What’s more, marketing techniques that we generally just apply to B2C communications are just as effective and important for leads and conversions. The difference is, with B2C communication the purchase is where the lead generation starts and end, however with B2B this process is often much longer and more involved. So it’s crucial that each form of communication (email marketing, landing pages, social or content marketing) is focused on relationship building and representing the strength of your brand above all else. You can only establish a relationship with that human on the other side of the screen with a compatible and trustworthy connection. Trust me, or ask your exes.
As you can imagine, before the decision maker decides to do business with your company, before they put their own job on the line, they’re going to ask themselves some questions. Who are the people behind this business? What do they stand for? Is that what I believe in? Do they understand exactly what my problem is? Of course, what they’re ultimately asking themselves is, can I trust them?
Ultimately, the only foolproof way to convince someone they can trust you is to reduce the risk for them by exposing the ‘personal value’ that your brand can bring to the B2B buyer. This could be self-image or professional benefits for them within their company, or it could just be the confidence that your business is made up of other intelligent humans who have the expertise needed to solve the problem at hand. Much like buying a mac to make you look more professional, or going with the insurance company you know will cover your ass, making any purchase will always involve a mix between how well your choice solves your problem, and how well it reflects on you personally.
I’m not suggesting that online media should replace traditional B2B methods of marketing. However, it is a powerful way to give those decision makers a more personal glimpse into who and what your organisation stands for.
We’re all human, people. Let’s start thinking H2H.