The traps in B2B marketing
Three big fallacies in B2B marketing
B2B marketing works in a fundamentally different way to B2C marketing. Or is this putting it in terms that are too black and white? There are different views on this, often based on assumptions. Meanwhile we marketers fall into three major traps that keep the world of B2B marketing in their grip.
1) The company is king
The people you speak with represent his or her company, and their decisions will always take their overall business needs into consideration. Still, you have a real person on the line – an individual. So make sure you know who you’re dealing with, and that you can tailor your contact and content specifically to them. Important questions to ask therefore are:
- With whom do I have primary contact?
- In which customer profile does he/she fit?
- What is their status in the company hierarchy?
- Who makes the final purchase decision?
- Which other people influence this decision?
2) Logic is king
One of the biggest pitfalls is the assumption that B2C marketing is all about emotion, and B2B about pure logic. Emotions do play a different role in these two forms of marketing, but are certainly not absent in selling to businesses. Like I said, your contact goes via a person, and no one has ever been able to completely put aside their emotions.
It is true that a consumer will be more driven by ‘fast’ emotions: desire, joy and excitement can evoke an effective response and immediately draw the customer into a purchase. This also has to do with the fact that it often takes a relatively small investment which only involves one or two people, and therefore it is low risk.
With B2B there is more at stake. It often concerns larger investments where a whole department or the whole company is involved, and where the deployment and the risk are much higher. Moreover, careers may also be at stake when a wrong decision is taken.
Therefore all will be looked at in detail, discussed and weighed. It is remarkable that a consumer with the right impulse can quickly purchase, and rationalise afterwards. Commercial buyers will look at the purchase in a logical way first before they make a purchase. Yet emotions are also involved here. We are talking about ‘slow’ emotions around trust , partnership, credibility, and a sense of security and stability. These should be built up and that takes time. But once this has been achieved, the customer will try hard to also give logic a place.
3) The campaign is king
Something B2C and B2B marketing often have in common is that their work focus is campaign-based. For consumers, that’s a good approach (although obviously somewhat outdated). For B2B marketing, however, this is completely missing the mark.
The biggest problem is in fact that marketing campaigns have a limited duration. The purchase process within companies often takes a lot more time, especially in larger companies. There are several people involved in the decision about the purchase, or from whom consent is required.
In addition, each company has its own agenda and its own internal processes. You cannot force them all at your pace through a customer journey, mapped out by you. If you can adjust your marketing strategy and process to meet the needs of several potential clients, you increase the feeling of trust and partnership by the individual approach.
Also realize that a business customer is often good for long-term contracts or significant subsequent purchases. Companies that enter into a partnership are much more loyal than consumers. The buyers have much more important work to do than repeatedly choose a new partner. So it would be a terrible shame to miss such a customer because you are already busy with your next campaign, when the first business is just getting ready to get into action. Consider the long-term benefits and swap the campaign-thinking for a continuous, customized approach, continuously measuring and adjusting.