The silly things B2B marketers say

In an industry where catchphrases and buzzwords are the common language, it’s easy to perpetuate ideas that sound so right, but are just plain wrong.

Here are a few of the worst B2B marketing misnomers—and some clever ways to combat them.

“Email doesn’t really work, but you still have to do it, right?”

Business marketers have a love/hate relationship with this most-common direct marketing tactic—as many as 97 per cent of brands regularly use email to communicate with their customers [Software Advice: B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Survey]. But sending out mass spam-blasts often feels like hunting a mosquito with a shotgun—lots of work for little reward.

In the era of sexier digital strategies such as social or mobile marketing, it’s understandable that some marketers would think that email is dead. They’d just be wrong.

Smart marketers say: Email is still a critical arrow in the modern marketer’s quiver. In fact, email marketing is 40 times (yep, that’s four-zero) better at acquiring new customers than social campaigns on Facebook and Twitter [2McKinsey & Company, 2014]. And it pays out at the end of the funnel, too—with an estimated ROI double that of search marketing [DMA UK: "National client email survey 2014"].

So what’s the key for creating effective email campaigns when you’re competing with so many other digital messages? Optimization.

Marketing automation tools can help you decode the “what, why and when” of triggering customer action by delivering the information they crave at the right time. And the “how” is equally as important; crafting responsive email designs that are optimized for every device will help you connect with the majority (53 per cent) of people that read email exclusively on mobile devices.

“Emotion has no place in business marketing.”

Most people assume that emotion drives buying decisions for rash consumers far more so than the logical, show-me-the-stats pragmatism of business purchasers. It makes sense, then, that while B2C communications tug at our heartstrings, make us laugh or play off our greatest fears, B2B marketing should keep to the cold, hard facts. After all, no one’s ever fallen in love purchasing a fleet of laptops, right?

Smart marketers say: Not so fast. Business purchases entail a far higher emotional investment than you might expect. Just think about it: as a consumer, if you purchase the wrong smartphone, you might be out a few hundred dollars. But if you make the wrong decision overhauling your company’s manufacturing infrastructure, you stand to lose millions in capital, decades of reputation, and possibly even your job. Doesn’t make choosing between Coke and Pepsi seem nearly as life altering, now does it?

So how can B2B marketers better tap into the emotional vein of their customers? Just take a look at perennial market leaders such as GE. They’ve turned selling something as boring as energy infrastructure or healthcare into poetry for a modern world, mainly by understanding the inherent motivators that drive their audience’s decisions.

When you understand your customers’ personal and professional goals (persona building), craft messages that convey personal value (messaging maps), and deliver valuable solutions (clear calls-to-action)—you too can win over both the hearts and the minds of your clientele.

“There’s no difference between B2B and B2C; it’s all just human-to-human now.”

The hottest marketing buzzword of the past few years, ‘H2H’ marketing makes a lot of sense at its core. Businesses don’t make decisions; people do. And, like we just discussed, tapping into a better understanding of your customers’ desires is a smart practice whether you’re selling to consumers or business customers.

But here’s where B2C and B2B will always diverge: consumers generally make decisions unilaterally, but business customers have many stakeholders that need to weigh in. So, when talking to professionals, it’s more about conversations that connect human to MANY humans.

Smart marketers say: The average business purchase involves 2.5 different job roles to complete the transaction. That number only rises the bigger the price tag or more business-critical the purchase is.

So how can marketers make that human-to-human connection as genuine as possible, while still talking the language that each of those key stakeholders will understand?

Keep in mind that your primary contact is rarely the final decision maker, so it’s important to make your content as to share as possible. That includes argumentation on ROI and financial implications that can be escalated vertically to directors and C-Suite decision makers, but also case studies and success stories that can be passed horizontally to other departments that might be involved in the decision—such as IT, sales, or procurement.

It’s a complicated dance, but by understanding the needs and tendencies of everyone involved, it will be easier to convince ALL those humans that they are making the right choice.

Brennen Roberts is managing director at iris Chicago

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