Like almost everything else in the world, B2B marketing has been turned upside down by the ever-increasing capability of the digital tools that are now available to us.
As experts in the field we, at HPS, have seen this remarkable evolution as another opportunity to give our clients the edge in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
So, what has been going on exactly? Well, for a start, the line that separated B2C and B2B marketing twenty years ago has now become much less defined.
To help explain what we mean, here’s an example. One of the biggest things that set best practice B2B marketing apart at the turn of the century was the importance of developing long-term relationships with customers to secure valuable on-going business. Today, this is a strategy being employed by an increasing number of B2C clients as well, as they strive to use an emotional connection and loyalty to build their brands.
So, let’s see how all this change has led to a few of the traditional myths of B2B being busted wide open:
1. B2B COMMS ARE LESS CREATIVE THAN B2C COMMS
Not if the agency’s worth its salt, they’re not. Whether you work in B2B or B2C, creativity is one of the most powerful tools of engagement – ignore it at your peril.
Even so, over 70% of B2B customers report a lack of engagement with those trying to target them1. 70%? B2B agencies, this is your wake-up call!
One sure way to capture attention is to make your marketing more ‘human’. We can no longer continue to talk about what a business does – in most cases, that’s pretty boring. Instead, you need to focus on how much passion you have for what you do.
At HPS, we turn the telescope around to look at things differently. The way we see it, B2B comms are actually more creative than B2C – at least, they need to be. That’s because expectations for truly engaging work have become lower in B2B, and that makes creativity a commodity that is worth its weight in gold.
So, for example, don’t be afraid to use humour in your work. Everyone loves to laugh and this applies to people at work just as much as when they’re at home. (They are the same people, after all.).
This charming and memorable film from Zendesk highlights just how easy it is to connect with your audience if you take a truly creative approach.
Being human means giving your work a stronger emotional connection. Much B2B work out there lacks emotional intelligence, and that’s definitely something the HPS Group can help you add to the mix with our innovative research technique, called ThoughtScape™.
ThoughtScape™ is a unique technique that taps into the episodic memory to elicit a rich stream of consciousness from customers.
Simple, open-ended questions are asked to draw out a stream-of consciousness response. This is untainted by the pre-defined questions of the researcher, which means there is no danger of leading the witness.
With ThoughtScape™, qualitative data is turned into quantitative data through forensic coding, feeling and emotion, which is far more enhanced than any other research approach. As a result, we receive emotional measurement and emotional diagnostics.
Qualitative data at a quantitative scale, and an effective way of assessing what people feel as well as what they think.
2. B2B MARKETING NEEDS TO FEEL GROWN UP
The number of people involved in B2B purchases has risen in recent years from an average of 5.4 to 6.82.
That means more ‘decision by committee’ which can cause the most talented of marketers to feel like they’re operating in a straight-jacket. It certainly encourages a lack of risk and is always likely to lead to lowest common denominator work. No wonder B2B agencies feel inclined to lean towards pragmatic, grown-up solutions.
But, wait a minute, there are other factors in play here. It might surprise you to know that almost half of all B2B buyers are Millennials3. (It did us!)
This has all kinds of implications, but particularly in terms of your media mix. It’s time to step into the brave new world and start considering the amazing potential of smartphones, social media and online shopping.
As your customers are likely to be researching products and suppliers using SEO, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, you really must have a robust content strategy in place.
You also need to be providing instant replies to the inquiries of your customers and prospects on social media or you risk missing out to competitors who are lighter on their toes.
Grown up? If you don’t take a youthful and contemporary approach with your B2B marketing, you’ll soon be as dead as the dinosaurs.
3. BUSY PROFESSIONALS DON’T HAVE THE TIME TO ENGAGE WITH CONTENT
The stats would suggest otherwise: 81% of businesses reported their blog as being critical to B2B lead generation4, and reading a blog certainly isn’t the fastest kind of content to consume.
Video is another longer form content that is becoming increasingly important in the B2B marketing mix. In a survey by Isoline Comms, 53% of B2B tech buyers asserted that video was the most useful form of content5.
It’s not hard to understand the appeal of video. Video gives consumers colour and tells a story that static media simply can’t match. So, it’s hardly surprising that 59% of B2B decision-makers prefer video over text content6.
While it’s true that the average person spends just 37 seconds reading online content, we’ve already established the average content isn’t worth engaging with7. Your job, and ours, is to create content that’s well above average.
In this respect, and many others, it seems B2B is now no different to B2C. No matter how long your content might take to absorb, if it’s engaging then consumers will engage with it.
That’s why, at HPS, we don’t think so much in terms of B2B and B2C, but more in terms of B2H (Business to Human).
If you’d like to know more about our approach, please contact Belinda Harvey on 01628 894715 or at B.Harvey@HPSGroup.co.uk and we’d love to chat things through.
ARTICLE BY BELINDA HARVEY
A passionate B2B marketing professional, Heads up the Business Division @TheHPSGroup. Loves all things about understanding the customer and bringing the human side of business into our propositions and strategies. Fan of dogs, especially my new puppy Tilly