B2B Marketing is a segment that hasn’t changed much over the years. Most of the companies still invest in the same strategies over and over, and you will find them taking the very same proposals to their meetings with clients – maybe just printed in color and in a better paper.
On the other hand, some of them are daring to shatter common stereotypes such as those that you will find below. And, as a consequence, they are increasing their sales and their brand awareness with these very simple techniques.
Inaccurate B2B Stereotype #1: It has to be dull
B2B Marketing has always puzzled the most creative marketing minds. Advertising experts are on the front row of those who fear the sound of a new B2B client getting into their offices. They think that any possibility of being imaginative, breaking the rules and making people laugh or cry is out of the table. But this is just a stereotype.
Some companies will be happy to try new ideas, review their content marketing fundamentals, and to move from boring ads (or even from no ads at all). Of course, you might need to make changes slowly, but this has nothing to do with their lack of understanding sometimes, but just with the fact that it is hard to change the way your clients see you overnight without causing much damage to the company’s image.
Xerox, for instance, accumulated over 1.7 million views on YouTube with his ad video “Everybody is talking at me” where an executive is bombarded by jargon everywhere he goes – as parts of their campaign “Work can Work Better.” The idea was funny and engaging and made something very boring as photocopies to become a topic at many dining and bar tables.
Inaccurate B2B Stereotype #2: It has to be formal
It is long gone the time when B2B companies were that formal – if they ever were. Anybody who has worked for the corporative world knows that the suits are usually on the chairs just after 30 minutes or so, and they might not even be there in your second meeting. Jokes are part of the talk, and you can even witness some pranks happening on their corridors.
Formality is respected in very specific situations, and marketing is usually allowed to be on the exception side of the story. Meaning that your clients are used and expecting a more informal presentation – actually, they might even be eager for a break from all those procedures and protocols.
As an example, the “Volvo Trucks – The Epic Slip” campaign was a creative way to prove one of the exclusive characteristics of the company’s new Volvo FM truck: the precision and directional stability of Volvo Dynamic Steering. The idea of bringing Jean-Claude Van Damme to start the video made it less formal and certainly remarkable.
Inaccurate B2B Stereotype #3: Target audience is a 40+ higher-up highly-educated male
When trying to create a persona to guide their target audience description, most of the B2B marketers will choose a male, in a higher-up position in the company (possibly a director or a manager), over 40 years old and that went to the best universities. They will think that this is the profile of the decision-maker of any B2B company. But this is just a stereotype for the following reasons:
- The number of women in decision-making positions has been increasing recently. Even though they still are the minority (just 4%) when it comes to CEO positions in the biggest companies in the United States, they already are the majority (56.7%) in management, professional and related positions.
- The decision-maker might not be the person in a higher-up position. It can be any executive of the company signed to the task, or even the son of the director who doesn’t even work there but knows a lot about tech. That is to say that your marketing strategy should aim to a much broader audience in some cases.
- Especially when it comes to technology, the number of CEOs and professionals in other higher-up positions under 40 years old is huge and just seem to increase. Among the most promising CEOs under 35, you will find John Arrow (25, from Mutual Mobile), Ryan Smith (34, from Qualtrics) and Anthony Casalena (30, Squarespace).
- Several decision-makers are universities dropouts or have never been to one. Here you can name Richard Branson (Virgin Group), Dave Thomas (Wendy’s), David Green (Hobby Lobby), Rachel Ray (cooking star), Michael Dell (Dell) e Larry Ellison (Oracle).
So here you can see that, if you want to be successful in this industry, you will have to change your mind, and stay away from stereotypes when trying to understand the target audience of any B2B business. And rethinking the personas you use is a good way to start doing it.
Inaccurate B2B Stereotype #4: The final customer isn’t important
That is another thing that has been changing recently, with more and more companies moving away from being just B2B to become more end-user oriented. And this isn’t about B2B2C businesses, those who actually need distributors or retailers to get their products to their customers, such as pharmaceutical and food industries.
We are talking here about the idea that when you sell something to your client, you should also be concerned about how it will impact on their own sales. Meaning that your marketing strategy will be more successful if you let your client know how buying your product will help them to achieve their goals, and not just how it will improve their manufacturing process, as an example.
So consider all chain involved before calling your marketing plan as final. This has a lot to do with understanding your target audience’s real needs as you can imagine – and those usually have much more to do with intangible goals and added value than to your product or service itself.
The bottom line
The B2B segment has changed over the years, and it will probably change event more with the advent of more companies and a new corporative world. The rise of Google, Facebook and other big players offering a more relaxed workplace to their workers also made some conservative companies concerned about the fact that they are losing talents to them, just for starters.
Plus, there is a huge exaggeration when it comes to calling the corporative workplaces as dull and formal, and anybody who has worked in one of them knows that this isn’t true.
So, leave these and other stereotypes behind and be brave enough to try new strategies. The important thing to have in mind here is your target audience: better you know them, less likely is that you will make a mistake as you will be more capable of understanding what your audience is looking for at that moment.
About the Author: Diana Beyer is experienced and self-driven media expert who is passionate about writing. Her purpose is to share values amid those interested. She is always seeking to discover new ways for personal and professional growth. Connect with Diana though Twitter.