September 06, 2017

Speaking the B2B Language

Anyone in a relationship can identify: Even if you understand the words your partner is speaking, you can still be talking in very different languages. Those of us in the marketing world can definitely grasp this analogy, especially as it applies to the differences for B2B and B2C companies.

B2B functions as the left side of the brain and B2C is its right-side counterpart. B2C is intuition, imagination, emotion and creativity. It’s how the Apples and the Nikes of the world captivate their audience with a single, awe-inspiring commercial. Consumers are carried away on a whim; they indulge themselves and buy what they want. It’s often the triumph of the emotional over the analytical.

B2B business owners, however, speak a different language. Their customers are rational and informed; behind every decision lies logic and reason. They buy what they need, constantly assessing the risk of every purchase, the ROI, and the security and reliability of the product or service.

So where does B2B marketing begin?

Start with the fundamentals

Marketing, of course, has to begin with strategy—defining the game plan (and that applies to B2C as well). It’s easy to come up with a list of marketing tactics a company is eager to accomplish. But if you don’t have the strategy behind them, they can be a waste of money and resources. When we onboard a new client, our first order of business is digging in and defining who they are (the positioning), who they serve (primary and secondary audiences), how to appropriately speak to that audience in a language they can understand (the messaging), and what the best strategy is to deliver results.

Once your game plan is in place, developing relationships with current and potential customers should be at the top of the list (the key for B2B business growth). These relationships can be the defining reason why a potential customer chooses you over your competition. Forbes contributor Daniel Newman believes that in order to be successful today, you must understand the value of these relationships and the value they can bring to your company:

“B2B companies need to develop and nurture their relationships with the business customer as an overall organization. People buy from people they like. People buy from companies they like. There’s no easy button for this, but it’s not hard. You just need to care enough to want to build relationships.”

Then, this is where the language piece of the equation comes in; solid marketing content becomes the true driving force behind your strategy and cements your B2B relationships.

Content – consistent and original content – is key

Two primary benefits that original content marketing delivers is cohesiveness and the establishment of a strong brand identity. Today’s multi-channel distribution – from blog posts to social media to email campaigns – gives your company the opportunity to reach your target audience at a variety of touch points. One way to quickly turn this advantage into a disadvantage? Mixed messaging.

Now, I’m not a believer that any content is good content. In fact, quite the opposite. Effective marketing leads with content that resonates with your audience and stays the course with your brand. That content should also position you as a thought leader and expert in your industry. People want to buy from people they like, but also from people they trust, respect and feel are highly experienced in their industry.

If, however, your content tells a story that’s riddled with disjointed, irrelevant and uninformed messaging, your audience is going to second-guess who they’re potentially partnering with and what value they would get out of partnering with you/selecting you. That potential client who visited your website, read your latest blog, scrolled through your social media and connected with you on LinkedIn may have just stopped responding to your emails/phone calls because your content didn’t tell the right story.

And your content has to be on point as well, not just fluffy marketing speak. The rational and informed B2B business owner needs to feel that you will do what you told them you will do when you were face to face. One always needs to back up the other, constantly reinforcing your message.

Your strategy may be solid and your relationship may be strong, and maybe you did a great job explaining what your company can offer when you met a potential client for lunch the other day. But if your prospect doesn’t see that same message when she visits your website or reads your blog, confusion could kill any forward progress. Your customer needs to see relevancy and consistency to feel good about moving forward.

I also tell the business leaders I represent that a potential client is never going to decide to buy from you just from a website visit because the relationship is the key. However, they are going to validate their decision to buy from you once they visit your website, read a blog, a news story, some social posts, etc. The internet makes it easy for all of us to do our research, especially when it comes to a rational and logical B2B business owner making a major buying decision.

This is where the right brain and left brain – and two seemingly different languages – come together in a way: Your messaging may appeal to the rational concerns of your potential customer, but that consistency in messaging gives them reassurance, a warm feeling that they can trust your company and what you’re selling.

I know the weight that strategy, relationships and content marketing carry for B2B companies; it’s my first language. So, if you’re looking for a translator, Crux is at your service.

Melea McRae is proud to be involved in the Kansas City business-to-business community, building the city’s first “un-agency.” Connect with Melea on LinkedIn and share your thoughts on our Facebook page or on Twitter @FindYourCrux.

About the author: Melea McRae is a marketing strategist with 25+ years of B2B and B2C experience leading client-facing marketing departments, where she earned the reputation as an insightful brand strategist. As SVP and CMO at the Greater KC Chamber of Commerce, she led the organization’s marketing and business development efforts. In July 2016, Melea launched Crux KC, providing an in-house marketing team, outsourced – the “un-agency” – for her small-to-mid-sized clients. As founder and CEO, she builds marketing, communication and business development strategies for her clients, while positioning them for sustainable growth.

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